It may not have officially arrived yet, but fall is certainly in the air: Pumpkin spice beverages abound at coffee shops, school is back in session, and cooler temps are right around the corner. That means peak leaf peeping season is nearly here and the foliage map from SmokyMountains.com is the perfect tool to help you plan a colorful fall trip.
Discover the best destinations to experience nature’s spectacular show as the leaves change color this season. Simply explore this interactive map to find where red, orange, and yellow hues will peak near your travel dates.
The prediction map—“meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year”—tracks the entire United States as various regions go from no change in leaf color to minimal, partial, near peak, and finally peak coverage. There isn’t much happening yet, but you can check out the map here to bookmark for later in the season and even submit foliage information about your area to help improve the predictions.
The map provides a visual guide to follow autumn’s colorful transformation across North America. View precise predictions of the fall foliage season from week to week. Get ideas for your RV route and plan to hit the road when the scenery will be at its most breathtaking.
Spend your fall trip immersed in nature’s vibrant beauty thanks to this easy planning tool. Start discovering your next leaf-peeping adventure today.
As you know from many of my posts, I can never get enough of fall foliage. Every year, landscapes transform as if God decides to get out his paintbrush and remind us of the surrounding beauty.
Leaf peeping has become so popular that many RVers plan road trips around the changing leaves. Fortunately, there’s an amazing interactive tool to help you do just that!
Fall foliage prediction map
The fall foliage prediction map or leaf peeping map gives you a nationwide view of the changing leaves. You can check travel dates by using the slider bar at the bottom. The different colors denote different stages.
Green denotes no change yet and brown means that the leaves are past their peak. The colors in between show the colorful progression of fall.
It’s so easy to use, and frankly, it’s fun! I couldn’t help sliding the bar back and forth to see the colorful flow overtake parts of the country.
How accurate are its predictions?
Just like you can’t completely predict the weather, leaf predictions can never be 100 percent accurate. However, SmokyMountains.com has published this predictive leaf-peeping map for nearly a decade.
It started as a fun project to meet the needs of their customers. SmokyMountains.com offers 2,000+ cabins and vacation rentals in Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. So, it’s easy to see how the leaf peeping map could benefit their customers.
But what started as a fun project for their clientele rapidly grew into a top fall resource that tens of millions of people use annually.
The founder of SmokyMountains.com and creator of the map, David Angotti, is also an Airline Transport Pilot. As such, he was required to fully understand weather patterns and was highly trained in to use of meteorological tools. The combination of his expertise and love for travel led to this highly accurate tool.
What data does the map use?
I love to know how things work and algorithms, in particular, impress me. The algorithm SmokeyMountain.com created analyzes several million data points including:
- NOAA historical temperatures
- NOAA historical precipitation
- NOAA forecast temperatures
- NOAA forecast precipitation
- Historical leaf peak trends
- Peak observation trends
- Historical model outputs from previous years
It outputs approximately 50,000 predictive data pieces that forecast county-by-county the precise moment when peak fall will occur.
And last year, they announced how it’s more accurate than ever with mid-season updates.
“Due to the complexity of applying a humongous, multi-faceted dataset, we have historically published our map annually without mid-season updates,” creator David Angotti explains. “However, for the first time we plan to release a mid-season update in late September. By applying the mid-season update, we believe the accuracy and usefulness of the tool will be increased.”
How is the fall foliage prediction map useful?
Get there at the right time.
As RVers, you probably instantly see the usefulness for travelers. We’ve all too often mistimed our road trips and begrudgingly enjoyed the leftovers. A tool like this changes that.
Now, you can perfectly time your trip for the:
- The Best National Parks for Fall Foliage—and When to Visit Them for Peak Leaf-Peeping
- Here’s Where to See Fall Foliage for the Ultimate Leaf Peeping Road Trip
- America’s Fall Foliage: Leafing through America
- Leafy Scenes: 12 of the Best Road Trips for Viewing Fall Foliage
- State-by-State Guide to Fall Colors
- It’s Fall Y’all in Georgia State Parks
It’s also a great opportunity to check out my Ultimate Guides for:
Even if you’ve been to the above places before, it’ll be like visiting a whole new place if you go at peak leaf pepping times.
However, clever folks have used the fall foliage prediction map for more than travel.
“The vast majority of individuals use the leaf map to simply check when leaves will peak near their home or use it to plan a leaf peeping trip,” David Angotti says. “However, through the years, we have heard some fascinating stories about how the tool was leveraged.”
He goes on to share some of the favorite stories from leaf peeping map users.
One example is a bride in the northeast changing the date of her outdoor wedding. Another is a director scheduling a movie shoot on location based on our predictions. Even school teachers have used the map to plan field trips and add to their lesson plans.
Other nifty leaf peeping resources
SmokyMountains.com also offers some helpful information and fun resources on its fall leaf map site.
You can see a scientific overview of why leaves change colors, colorful illustrations, fall coloring sheets for kids, and a list of the Top Places to See Fall Foliage in All 50 States.
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.