AccuWeather 2023 Fall Foliage Forecast –

After a very hot summer, some people may be ready for the arrival of cool fall air and the colorful displays that accompany the change of seasons.

Year-round weather plays an important role in how vibrant the foliage is — or how dull — as fall turns into gear.

Wet weather from late spring through mid-summer is the first step toward a spectacular foliage display, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and Long-Range Expert Paul Pasteluk. Dry, sunny days followed by cool nights throughout September can help enhance the vibrant color of fall leaves.

Conversely, long-term drought and extreme heat can lead to faded colors, as the conditions put trees under greater stress and cause them to shed their leaves early. An early frost can also affect how long leaves survive before gravity pulls them to the ground.

From the mountains of New England to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, here are AccuWeather’s full breakdown of the 2023 fall foliage forecast:

When will the leaves change colors?

The best time to see the mountains transform into stunning displays of yellow, orange and red varies from region to region, starting early in the season across the northern tier and across the Rocky Mountains and later in the fall for areas farther south.

In 2023, AccuWeather predicts that the best time to see fall foliage in New England, the upper Midwest and the Rocky Mountains will be late September and early October.

By mid-October, peak colors are expected to reach much of the Northeast, Appalachians, Ohio Valley, and across the Midwest. Peak foliage is expected to occur during the second half of October across much of Washington, Oregon and California.

For areas from the central United States to the Gulf Coast and part of the coastal mid-Atlantic, the brightest colors are not expected until later in October and during the first weeks of November. However, for part of this region, the displays are not expected to compete with those in other areas of the country.

Some fall colors are beginning to appear in New York’s Adirondack Mountains on September 2, 2023. (AccuWeather/Lincoln Riddle)

Where will the best foliage be this year?

“Probably the best places to see fall foliage this season are across the Northeast and the Great Lakes in the upper Midwest and then up west,” Pastelok said.

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This includes popular foliage viewing destinations such as New England, the upper Midwest, and the aspen groves of Colorado and Utah.

“The poplars should show up really well in late September to mid-October,” Pastelok added.

Some colors are expected elsewhere across the Rocky Mountains, Cascades and most of the Appalachians, but there is one larger area where Pastelok said the colors may not be quite as vivid.

Long-term periods of heat hitting the southern United States have stressed trees from Texas to Alabama and north into Illinois and Indiana. Extreme weather events during the first half of fall may cause stressed trees to defoliate around the same time as the peak of the season.

“Furthermore, we could see a big change in October, where some cold air could descend causing early frosts,” Pastelok added.

As a result, Pastelok said colors in about a dozen states may be dull compared to other areas of the country.

An aerial view of forested areas with a road amid trees with yellow, brown and green colors and autumn foliage in the Spider Forest and Nature Conservation Areas during the autumn season in Gumushane, Turkey on November 13, 2022. (Photo by Hakan Burak Altunuz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

As impressive as aerial photos can be, photographers should check local restrictions before using a drone to capture a photo of a colorful hill.

“In some locations, drone takeoff and landing are restricted by state, local, territorial, or tribal government agencies,” the FAA said on its website. This may include local, state and national parks, private properties and nearby current events.

People can use the B4UFLY app to find out where drones can or cannot be flown.

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