Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Fall Foliage Peak: Where Colors Will Be Best 1st Week Of Autumn

Sep 17, 2019 05:17AM ● By Editor
The Sawtooth Mountain Range, just off the north shore of Lake Superior near Tofte, Minnesota, should be ablaze with fall colors during the first full week of fall, according to the Fall Foliage Prediction Map. Photo:

By Beth Dalbey, Patch Staff from - September 16, 2019

Here's a philosophical thought to occupy your mind along the way to the Northeast or any of a half-dozen or so places where fall leaves are about to peak: The human race survived, in part, because we admire the blazing oranges, brilliant reds and golden yellows of fall.

In other words, you were designed to appreciate the splendor of the season. Scientists say the ability to see beauty developed as an evolutionary trait to attract humans to those things in nature that would help us survive. 

Human survival may no longer be on the line, but an interactive map tool on a Great Smoky Mountains cabin rental site takes some of the guesswork out of the timing of these primal pilgrimages. 

The autumnal equinox is Sept. 23. During the first full week of fall, Sept. 29-Oct. 5, the leaves will be at or near peak in many areas of the Northeast, according to the Fall Foliage Prediction Map, which makes it easy to plan fall leaf-viewing excursions with some precision. 

Some other good bets that week: Extreme northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota; parts of the West, including Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Nevada.

By the week of Oct. 25, fall colors will be near- or at peak across much of the nation's midsection from the Mid-Atlantic west through South Dakota.

The Fall Foliage Prediction Map website is monetized with Smoky Mountain cabin rentals. The entire state of Tennessee, including the eastern part where the Great Smoky Mountains are located, should be at or near peak the week of Nov. 9.

The major factors that determine the fall foliage peak are sunlight, precipitation, soil moisture and temperature, and the data scientists constantly update the Fall Foliage Prediction Map as more variables become available. The algorithm uses hundreds of thousands of data points from private and government sources, including historical and forecasted temperatures and precipitation data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, historical leaf peak trends and peak observation trends.

"Nothing is 100 percent accurate," David Angotti, the cofounder of the Fall Foliage Prediction Map told Patch, but the tool "gets pretty darned close."

When Angotti and his partners began renting cabins, "we had a lot of people asking about fall color in the Smoky Mountains," Angotti said. "We didn't want to give people bad advice, so we started talking with a meteorologist. The first year was pretty accurate and was very well received, and people were asking, 'Are you going to do it again?'"

That was six years ago.

"It's our M.O. now," Angotti said. "We don't have a choice."

To read the original article and see related reporting, follow this link to the website.