Best time for fall foliage in New England

Question #1 every year: When is the best time for fall foliage in New England? Based on this set of loose parameters, it’s an easy Question… October, Of Course!

Jeff Foliage viewing peak fall foliage

looking out on all the incredible fall color at the beaver pond.

Rarely is anyone happy with that answer though, and they want a more specific date range down to a week or even a particular weekend?

Now you are asking the 24 million dollar question! But I usually tell folks this on the blog: Columbus Day weekend is the most heavily traveled weekend for two reasons.

  • First, it’s a three day weekend.
  • Second, this weekend (or week) is usually the start of when you will find the broadest tract of peaking fall colors across VT, NH and ME (not to mention the Berkshires of MA)




Foliage Map

Now if you don’t know what I mean by “broadest tract” Take a look at this map from the Yankee Magazine foliage website.

Foliage map

Foliage map courtesy of Yankee’s foliage website

You will see that bright red corresponds to the Peak colors and it covers a very broad area of Northern New England. Now please keep this in mind this is nothing more than a good guesstimate of what the fall colors will do in any given year.

If you look at the small calendar in the corner it’s centered on 7 Oct. So in theory you should have a really good chance of finding great color.

What the maps don’t tell you?

What the map (this one or anyone elses) won’t tell you! That this is a generalization and does not take into effect dry/wet spells or maple leaf rot or other environmental effects that happen in random years.

Here is where I jump off the ledge with both feet and make a call based on what I’m seeing here in the New England area. Somebody has to be crazy enough to do it! :-)

But! as tools go this isn’t a bad one and for this year Jeff Foliage says…

I think these are good dates but I might slide the date a few days later. We had a late spring and summer along with a very wet June. I think these factors will lead us to slight delay in the fall colors or a sporadic start to the colors depending on what we get in Sept as far as temps and precipitation.

What we want to see is  a warm summer fading by the end of August into a cooler and dry Sept. This way we will get the colors when we want them. A dry Sept will concentrate the sugars in the leaves and give us much brighter colors! So cross your fingers…

So the best time for fall foliage in New England is whenever you get here! The earlier you get here then the further north you will be and if you show up in late October then you want to arrive further to the south… That isn’t too hard, is it?

Jeff “Foliage” Folger

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Best time for fall foliage in New England — 8 Comments

    • Hi Brian, I’m assuming you are going up the Saint Lawrence? and coming south along Halifax, Maine, NH, MA, RI, CT and NY (Don’t think there is another way but I don’t know everything :-)
      Now assuming you are leaving 26 Oct then I would say you should see a fair bit of color. The coastal areas of New England are the last areas to change color So there is a good chance to see some very good color on the way south.
      Some of the issues you need to think about are any stops. If you go inland you will find the color gone fast. But! if you have good places to visit then your vacation will be full of memories and if you do find some color (there may not be a lot) but you will even get better memories.

      I checked a New York fall foliage website and they said their last report was around 6 Nov 2013. ( and this bodes well for you but if its more than 2 weeks before you get there it may be better to move it up a week if possible..
      Questions? you know where to find me!

    • Please let me know when you are done. I would love to hear what you thought about the whole experience. Type ship, food, entertainment and what kinds of stops you make on the way. Then we can put it on this site so others know what your experience is like.
      Thanks! and good luck… :-)

      Anyone who reads this, I would love to hear from you also! Did you take a tour and what kind of experience did you have?

    • Well Rosalind I hope you don’t mean 20 July (today) or 20 August. If you mean 20 Sept… best you be on your way to Montreal CA or somewhere along the Canadian border.
      Now funnin aside, 20 Oct should good for much of Massachusetts if not RI and CT. You don’t say where the tour is going but you should see good colors if Mother Nature cooperates.

  1. Hi Jeff, I will be traveling to Boston to get with a tour group that will be going through all the New England states. The tour begins the first week of October, is this a good time? my original plan was to leave San Francisco around September 23, but after reading so many different comments, I decided to go head to Boston on October 3, My plan is to try and make the foliage peak time. This has been a long time dream.

    • Hi Rosalind, you would have to post the itinerary so I could look at the whole thing. 3 October is fine as long as they are heading north from Boston to NH or VT and not up the coast. The coast is always the last to get the fall colors. So if they are smart they will take you up into the white mountains or the Northeast kingdom and then they could wind there way back between the two and maybe over the Kancamagus and through Conway into Maine and out to the coast and slowly make their way to Boston…
      Post the info here and I’ll be happy to give my opinion. :-)

I'd love to hear what you think!