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Best Places to See Fall Colors in the United States

North America boasts some of the best autumn leaf-peeping opportunities in the world. Besides the incredible diversity of landscapes and trees, it also offers exceptionally long fall foliage season. The fall colors typically start around mid-September in the northern states and tend to peak in early October. While in the southwest, leaves may start turning closer to the end of October, followed by the southern states in early November, with a final sweep of color reaching Florida and south Texas by Thanksgiving. The key is to map your trip, be flexible, plan for peak, and aim for the states famous for their brilliant colors! Red maple, ginkgo, bald cypress, black gum, and scarlet oak are responsible for the warm orange and bronze hues that make North America's fall landscapes so special. The change of leaf color depends on chlorophyll. As the days get colder and shorter, the amount of chlorophyll decreases, and the pigments that were once hidden begin to reveal themselves. Xanthophylls are responsible for a yellow color and beta-carotenes—for orange. Anthocyanins that produce red to purple hues are widespread in certain areas like New England, making autumn there exceptionally beautiful. The first state to turn yellow and red is Alaska, where fall may already be in full swing in early September. Minnesota and Michigan usually experience peak beauty around mid- to late September. Early to mid-October can be the best time to enjoy a vivid and vibrant walk in New England. Mid- to late October can serve up some incredible colors in parts of California. Finally, Texas and Arkansas are known to exhibit their fall foliage well into mid-November. The most famous leaf-peeping destinations include California with its stunning vineyards, mountainous Colorado, rural Vermont, and charming New Hampshire. However, every state has at least a few scenic spots for viewing remarkable fall displays. You can decide for yourself what to put on your fall-foliage bucket list.