The Colors of Autumn

Fall Foliage

As I write this,  yellow leaves are beginning to mix with the green in the box elder trees , the tops of the cottonwoods are starting to fade to yellow and the European snowball viburnum is showing hints of red. Those are sure signs that the seasons are changing and it will soon be time to enjoy the full pallet of colors that autumn brings.

Finding Fall Color

I am privileged to be able to see the fall colors arrive outside my window.  That’s possible even in cities, but for a grandiose display spread across a panorama of hills and mountains, one needs to know where and when to look.

AspenFor a broad, predictive look, check out the Fall Foliage Map that predicts when the colors of fall will envelope your region.  You can find it at: Today it tells me that the colors are just beginning to change in my area in Oregon. That’s what it looks like outside my window.  Peak colors are predicted to reach here in the middle of October.

For a continually updated map that is based upon eyewitness reports, check out Yankee Foliage.  The map is initially  focused on the New England region, but you can zoom out to see the whole U.S. and you can report what you see in your area.  For most of the U.S. it looks like the actual color changes are a bit behind the projections this year.

You can find other maps and foliage reports at these websites and many others:

To find reports for your state, try searching for “fall color” or “foliage” along with the name of your state.

Traveling for Foliage

If you are planning to travel to colorful foliage,  New England is highly recommended as are other forested areas in the eastern states.  The broad range of deciduous tree species offers a rolling pallet of various colors spread across the countryside.

Fourche Lake

Fourche Lake
Eleven Point Ranger District, Mark Twain National Forest.
USFS Photo by Anthony Lee

While mosts forests in the western states lack the diversity of the hardwoods forests in the east, they offer their own beauty in the fall.  The bright yellows of the aspen to the even brighter yellows of the coniferous western larch trees combined with reds of various shrubs add punctuation to the broad expanse of the ‘evergreen’ forest.


Fish Lake National Forest USFS photo by Mark Muir

The Most Intimate Experience

single leaf

Aspen Leaf
U.S. Forest Service Photo

In most cases it will take some driving to get to your chosen area, but when you get there, for the most intimate experience, plan to do some hiking or bicycling.  Look for trails on higher ground and plan to see the best views and the best color in the early morning and late afternoon.

As you travel, you will be able to absorb the astounding vistas in front of you, smell the crisp scents of the fall air, hear the clear sounds and examine the colorful leaves close-up. Take some time to enjoy the experience and let it wrap around you.  Not only will it clear your mind, it will energize your soul and prepare you for the coming winter.

If you’d like to discuss fall colors with people all over the world,  check out the fall foliage thread at our partner forum Camping Babble.


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