2017 U.S. Peak Fall Foliage Prediction Map: Plan Now for Your Best Landscape Photos of the Year

2017 U.S. Peak Fall Foliage Prediction Map: Plan Now for Your Best Landscape Photos of the Year

The team at SmokyMountains.com is back again this year with their updated prediction map for timing the peak fall foliage colors in the United States. Using this interactive map, photographers can easily find out the best time to take a trip out to the woods and capture the most vibrant and colorful images of the season.

How is the map created? SmokyMountains.com pours through the data points of NOAA historical temperatures, NOAA historical precipitation, NOAA forecast temperatures, NOAA forecast precipitation, historical leaf peak trends, and peak observation trends. The data is then placed in an algorithm that outputs around 50,000 predictive data points which can than be used to forecast on a county-by-county level across the United States.

Data Scientist Wes Melton, working with SmokyMountains.com, has good news for U.S.-based photographers: “Other than the Pacific Northwest, we are expecting warmer-than-average fall temperatures during the during the September through November time period. These warmer temperatures are expected to prolong the color season.”

The interactive map shows predicted weekly changes from August 13 through October 29. Next Sunday, September 10, the map gets its first taste of “near peak” colors, so plan and make travel reservations now.

View the Map

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Sorry but this kind of thing is simply unpredictable. All you can hope for is a rough estimate. One day of wind and rain can also ruin the year's color. Best time of the year though.

Ryan Mense's picture

Worked out great using it last year and it's better than nothing.

Anonymous's picture

Actually, it is predictable but not with 100% certainty and, of course, you're right about unforeseen circumstances. As Ryan pointed out, it's better than nothing. I would love to live in a perfect area for it and just wait.

From their website:
"The 2017 Fall Foliage Map is the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves. While no tool can be 100% accurate, this tool is meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year."

I don't care what the site says to promote itself. Common sense dictates that it's just a rough estimate, as I said. What is useful is current status maps.

I grew up in one of those "perfect" areas on the east coast. Beautiful. Best time of the year for me.

Anonymous's picture

I agree current status maps are best but sometimes you have to make plans too far in advance for that to be helpful.

So where was that? I'd always heard Vermont, New Hampshire, etc.. but I'm sure there are a lot of great places, few people have heard about. I'm thinking about going to middle or upper Michigan. I've heard it's just as good as New England but without the crowds.

New York.

As I said in another post, most of the eastern half of the lower 48 has great fall colors while the western half generally has a less impressive (less colorful) version, though still beautiful.

Alex Armitage's picture

Maybe a good followup article would be good locations to shoo the change in color? I'm actually looking into this right now as I'm a Florida native, we don't know what seasons are!

Ryan Mense's picture

Come on up to Minnesota, it's ahhh-maaaaaazing! :)

Pretty much anywhere on the eastern side of the lower 48 country north of Florida. You can also see less dramatic fall colors throughout much of the western half of the country, and very nice examples in many of its cities that are well landscaped.

Does something like this also exist for places outside of the US?

Only parts of east Asia. Here's a link to a possible explanation of why this doesn't naturally occur in Europe.


Very interesting read. Thanks a lot!