October is the best month to see fall foliage.

One of the best parts about autumn is the abundance of colorful trees in mesmerizing shades of firetruck red, orange, and yellow. If you're in parts of the country that are lucky enough to experience fall foliage and you're wondering when the peak time to see the trees are, there's now an interactive map to help you do just that.

Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
Credit: Denis Tangney Jr. / Getty Images

Using the map provided by SmokyMountains.com, you can adjust a toggle bar to see when certain regions across the country will be at patchy, partial, near-peak, and peak foliage season. Currently, the map shows that most of New England and the tri-state area including southern New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey are at partial or near peak foliage. States that are past their peak in terms of foliage are northern Maine, northern Vermont, and northern New Hampshire, as well as parts of northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. However, if you live or are working in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas, you'll need to wait a few more weeks to see any color as there is currently little to no change in foliage.

While most of New England and the West will be past peak by the end of October, the leaves will be at their best and brightest hues in Midwest and South. By the end of November, you can expect that nearly every state with the exception of the southern parts of Florida and southeastern Texas will be past its peak, which means that by Thanksgiving, most of the leaves will have fallen to the ground.

But why do the leaves change color in the first place? "As the fall days begin to get shorter and shorter, the production of chlorophyll slows to a halt, eventually giving way to the 'true' color of the leaf," says SmokyMountains.com. As the temperature drops, the trees then "slowly close off the veins that carry water and nutrients to and from the leaves with a layer of new cells that form at the base of the leaf stem, protecting the limbs and body of the tree."

With a few more weeks of cool mornings and warm days ahead of us, enjoy the natural beauty of autumn all across the country.


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