2020 fall foliage changes are coming, it’s time to plan your trips

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Leaves change colour during autumn in Kew Gardens on October 28, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Nick Harvey/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Leaves change colour during autumn in Kew Gardens on October 28, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Nick Harvey/Getty Images) /

The 2020 fall foliage changes are starting to happen so it’s time to plan your trips north.

With the beginning of the 2020 fall foliage season at hand, it is now the best time to begin your weekend trip plans to the north.

As fall arrives, so does the changing colors of the leaves and now is the best time to plan your northern drives to take them all in.

Already there are reports of fall showing up in upstate New York and even in some areas of Manhattan but if you really want to get an early “peak”, you need to head further up the United States. The changes that come with fall has become a huge tourist and travel event that is repeated each year, it is like the Washington, D.C. cherry blossom blooms, in other words, it’s a must-experience event.

There are people who live for this time of year and they should. Whether traveling by car or RV, heading north for the changes in season can really bring a sense of calm and tranquility to your life. And of course, it can be absolutely beautiful.

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There is very little else that can be captured with a camera so majestic. The desert mountains out west provide a myriad of light textures and across the pond, in Ireland and Scotland, the green rolling hills offer picturesque contrasts as well. Here in the states, the contrasting colors and light sources as the sun begins to set differently offer a variety of opportunities for amateur and expert photographers.

This year, it is not too late to plan your trips. Some of the mid-Atlantic regions won’t reach peak foliage changes until October while some of the mid-Western states won’t hit until early November. No matter where you are, a few hours drive north, east, or west, could deliver what you need.

Remember too that leaves will change differently whether they are located in coastal areas or inland where temperature variations bring about quicker or slower changes. Here are some notable dates around the country and if you want, use this nifty interactive slide from BostonMagazine.com to really dive into whatever area of the country you are in or can visit.

Fall brings foliage changes
TETBURY, UNITED KINGDOM – NOVEMBER 01: Leaves on trees can be seen changing colour in the grounds of Westonbirt Arboretum near Tetbury, on November 1 2007 in Gloucestershire, England. Tree experts claim that the very wet summer and drier autumn has meant 2007 is one of the most spectacular autumns of recent times. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images) /

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Peak season

Vermont – If you are looking to get a headstart and see the first changes of the season, Vermont has the earliest peak times of all the states. Peak season begins around September 24th and will run through early October in the north and then until mid-October in the south.

North Carolina – Mid-October in the mountains and central state. Along the coastal areas of the state, look for a late October to early November change.

Ohio – There isn’t much coastal issues as Lake Erie doesn’t seem to affect the changes in foliage but the state itself, from the Erie coast to the hills of southern Ohio can provide some really nice images. Look for most of October for the peaks.

West Virginia and Virginia – Ever travel up through the Blueridge Parkway or through western Virginia into the tunnels and out into West Virginia? If you have you know that the rolling hills and mountains that you creep on top of provide thick forests that each year change with the season.

I have made this trip a hundred times and can tell you that missing it by even a day or two can be the difference of seeing it completely orange and red or seeing a speckle of leaves left on otherwise barren branches.

Peak times will run from early October to late October in western Virginia and West Virginia. Coastal Virginia will see peak changes from mid-Oct to early Nov.

New England – The New England states of Maine, Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island, etc… will provide some of the most pristine views of fall anywhere in the world. From thick birch forests and green fern carpets, it’s everything from the oranges, reds, and browns, with the mixed towering pines that really sell it.

Most of the Northeast U.S. is already seeing these changes but peak season is still a couple of weeks away. Late September will start to bring the more visible changes and those changes in color will run through the middle of October with coastal regions running into late October.

From New York to Maine now is the time to start planning those weekend getaways as once the peak dates arrive, they won’t last long.

Along the Canadian border – From Michigan to North Dakota, changes will start to appear from late September in Montana to early October in Michigan. The same dates apply all the way along the border with Canada.

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Everywhere else – For the most part, if you are locally looking for foliage changes, don’t worry. Most of our states peak seasons will run through October into early November but October is really the month we will see most of the changes this year. This includes New Mexico, South Carolina, and the northern part of Georgia.

Out west there are changes as well. California’s short window runs for about 15 days from mid-October until the end of the month. In Washington, the window is about 15 days as well from the 12th of October to the 28th.