The end of summer can be sad, but fall brings (at least) one thing that no one can deny is wonderful: fall foliage.
To get the most out of this seasonal show that nature puts on every year, you need to know when colors will be at their peak. An interactive map can help with that: SmokyMountains.com uses National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data (including historical and forecast temperatures and precipitation), historical leaf peak trends, and peak observation trends to create a single map that will tell you which week to hit the road.
The map breaks fall foliage down by county, so this is more than a prediction — it's a granular travel-planning tool.
Toggle the map to see when foliage in your area — or in whichever destination you're headed to enjoy fall colors — will peak.
Due to an expanding historical database and analyses of past predictions, the map is getting more accurate each year, according to SmokyMountains.com data scientist Wes Melton.
“Our aggregated historical and current database now includes hundreds of thousands of unique data points giving us the ability to predict more accurately than ever before,” Melton told Travel + Leisure.
The algorithm used for the map analyzes several million data points, and outputs about 50,000 predictive data pieces, according to the creators.
For fall foliage in 2017, the peak is in sight.
“This year's leaf model is predicting an earlier-than-typical peak fall,” said Melton. That's due to warmer-than-average fall temperatures, as well as heavier precipitation than typical over the summer. Based on NOAA data, he also predicts a “prolonged color period,” with higher elevations peaking first.
While New England gets plenty of attention for its leaf peeping offerings, there's sure to be gorgeous foliage all over the country. More southern areas like the Smoky Mountains are also good for travelers looking to enjoy the changing colors later in the season. (SmokyMountains.com lists vacation rentals if Tennessee is calling your name.)
But wherever you're thinking of going, those reds and yellows and oranges and pinks could arrive sooner, so you might want to start planning a fall road trip.