Find Out Exactly When the Leaves Will Change Color This Fall

The fall foliage map shows when to expect peak leaf color in 2022.

Changing leaves can be a breathtaking sight in autumn, but this natural show's brilliance can vary a lot from year to year. That's because the process of leaves changing colors relies on the the right combination of temperature and moisture. Depending on weather conditions, leaves could just go from green to brown to falling to the ground some years, and others they might look colorful for weeks. For 2022, AccuWeather predicts that the above-average temperatures of the summer are expected to continue into the fall for most of the country. This will delay peak fall foliage times until cooler weather arrives. Additionally, you can expect to see less vibrant colors in areas that experienced drought during the growing season.

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One of the best ways to find out what to expect for fall foliage in your area is to check out this interactive map created by, which predicts peak fall colors across the United States by county. In addition to using climate data to create the map, the website allows users to report what fall is like in their county each day to improve the accuracy of the map. From September 5 to November 21, the fall foliage map tracks seven stages of fall color starting with "no change" to "past peak". The best color is represented by cherry red.

Peak Fall Color by Region

The 2022 forecast predicts the first parts of the country will see peak foliage color around October 3. This area includes northern parts of the country in Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and the New England states. By October 24, the peak will expand to the bulk of Midwestern states and part of the south eastern states, comprising Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, and North and South Carolina. Parts of Kentucky and Tennessee will also see peak foliage at this time.

By October 31, the majority of the states in the West, Midwest, and Southeast will join in, while some areas, such as the Rocky Mountain region and the northern parts of the country, will be past their peak color. Finally, those in the South will see some beautiful leaves and colors from November 7-14. By November 21, most of the United States will pass prime time, and wintery weather will soon arrive.

The color-changing map above is based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) on historical temperatures, precipitation, and forecasts. plugs the data into an algorithm that factors in the elements of meteorology (temperature, moisture, sunlight, and precipitation) that impact peak fall color. Although there's no way to predict with 100% accuracy what nature will do, the data collected each year helps to make this map the best prediction possible.

brightly colored trees in fall
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Trees With the Most Colorful Fall Foliage

When your local trees start turning color, you may notice some have more fiery hues than others. For example, you can almost always count on maples to put on a dazzling show, especially sugar and red maples, which are native to much of Eastern and Central North America. No wonder they are honored as the state tree of New York, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, several other deciduous tree species also produce traffic-stopping autumnal displays across different regions of the United States. For example, in southern regions, keep an eye out for sourwood and sweetgum trees, which turn vivid shades of red, yellow, and purple. Across the Rocky Mountains, aspens light up the landscape with their golden leaves that practically seem to glow in the right light.

Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?

Fall foliage colors are actually present in leaves the entire growing season. However, they usually don't appear until the weather turns chilly. Cool air temperatures signal deciduous plants that it's time to prepare to go dormant for the winter by shedding their leaves. That's when the green pigment known as chlorophyll fades, allowing all the beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows to show.

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