The tool, which is updated annually, lets you see when foliage nationwide is patchy, partial, near-peak, peak, and past peak.
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One of the best parts about autumn is the abundance of colorful trees in cascading shades of burnt orange, crimson red, forest green, and golden yellow. If you live in an area of the country that's lucky enough to experience fall foliage, or if you're planning a trip to see the yearly transition, you're likely wondering when the leaves reach their peak color. To help, the Great Smoky Mountains, just released the 2022 version of its annual interactive map, which shows what the foliage will look like in various parts of the country throughout the season.

The map was first created in 2013 to help potential visitors who wanted to know when the leaves in the Smoky Mountain region would be the most brilliant. "From these questions, we built the first version of the fall leaf map and have consistently improved it each year," says map creator and brand founder David Angotti, "What started as a fun side-project quickly became the most respected nationwide fall leaf map and one of the best fall resources in the country." Now, millions of people around the country use the map to plan vacations, weddings, road trips, and more.

To create its annual predictions, the color-coded map uses a complex algorithm that carefully analyzes several million data points and outputs. This data then enables the team's program to forecast county-by-county the exact moment when peak fall will occur. Though the optics behind it are quite complex, the map itself is very easy to use. Simply, adjust the toggle bar to see when certain regions across the country will be at minimal, patchy, partial, near-peak, peak, and past-peak foliage season.

september fall foliage
Credit: Courtesy of Smoky Mountains

September

Foliage is relatively minimal across the country during the month of September. Some regions up North, like in North Dakota and parts of New England, will start to have patchy-looking foliage around mid-September, as the photo above indicates. But as we inch closer to the end of the month, foliage begins to ramp up. Leaves will be near peak in the North and minimal to partial in parts of the Southwest, including Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. In the East Coast, expect to see a range of colors around September 26, when foliage will be minimal to near peak all the way from Maine to West Virginia.

october fall foliage
Credit: Courtesy of Smoky Mountains

October

If seeing transitional foliage is on your fall bucket list, October is the time to do so. At the start of the month, about half the country will see leaves changing colors. In the North and throughout most the East Coast, the plant material will be partial, near peak, and some regions will even be at peak. By the middle of October, nearly the entire country will be in transition—with the exception of Texas, Louisiana, and Florida where there will still be no change yet. However, once Halloween hits fall foliage will be in abundance nationwide, as seen in the image above.

november foliage
Credit: Courtesy of Smoky Mountains

November

As October transitions into November, most fall foliage across the country will change from vibrant oranges, yellows, and greens to deeper browns. At the beginning of the month, just about every region above the Mason-Dixon line will be past peak. However, in the South and areas of the Mid-West, leaves continues to transition, ranging from patchy to peak foliage. By the middle of the month (depicted in the image above), just about the entire country will be past peak, with some regions of the South still holding on to partial, near peak, and peak foliage.

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