scenic mountain roads in fall along Blue Ridge Parkway, VA & NC

Fall may be the best time to take a road trip in America—temperatures are down making it easier to switch off the A/C and roll down those windows, the foliage is right in the middle of showing off its best colors, and apple picking is the perfect way to stretch your legs mid-trip. Planning the perfect time to catch the fall leaves can be a little tricky—wait too long and you'll barely miss it. There really is no downside to taking off too early in the season; you'll just have more time to plan another trip.

If you've only got time for one chance to see fall's bountiful beauty one time this year, Smoky Mountains—a website focused on lodging, specifically in National Parks—has created an interactive map just for you. The map tracks how the leaves are projected to change week-by-week. No one out there can 100 percent predict what the weather is going to do, so all estimated "peak" leaf viewing times are just that: an estimate. Spoiler alert: Days between October 3rd and 17th seem to be the best time to get the biggest range of colors throughout the United States. Check out the full map here and start planning that long weekend getaway!

Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.