New England Fall Foliage » Foliage Articles » Can you “wing it” on Columbus day weekend?

Would you like to “wing it” for your fall foliage vacation?

I’ve answered this every year since I started and each year it comes up… 🙂 This gentleman asked some good questions and while I don’t know all the facts of his trip, I did the best to give him some tools and things to think about.

He asked:

fall foliage view from MT Batty

View of Camden from Mt Batty

“Hi Jeff,
Thank you for the information and updates. We are from Denver and we are planning a trip with my in-laws to see the fall colors in New England starting October 9th. We would love to visit Bar Harbor on our adventure. As we get closer to the time what can we do to help us decide to head north right away (most likely out of Boston), or to head west to MA, NH or VT. What should we be watching to make that decision, i.e. rainfall forecast, your site (of course), or the links you have provided?… Or is the answer all of the above? One last question is it foolish to wing it and hope to find two rooms day by day as we travel on our path searching for the best colors or should we absolutely make reservations? I hope your predictions are good, it looks like we could be there at the right time.”

I highlighted his pertinent portion of his questions and tried to answer them below

Remember a lot of this depends on what the weather does and you should really plan to hit a few festivals and other events so you have things to go to and do… Much more fun then going tree to tree going ohh and ahhh and jumping back in the car… and repeating, till its time to go home…

Plans, Wing it Bar Harbor, and direction to head in, north or west and WHEN?...

A maple tree all in it red and orange fall foliage colors in the quiet corner

A tree fully peak top to bottom

First, where to get info. My fall foliage page, of course is correct… 🙂

Second; if you look next to any article on my site and on the right side of the page look for My Foliage links. Here you will find the current links to each the states tourism foliage reports. They are usually a decent indicator of what the autumn foliage is doing.

2A, I just thought of this, hit the NOAA climate page and you can check the weather 8-10 days out. This is where all the weather-people get their weather from.

Third; The 9th of October means you should head up towards the white mountains or the Greens in VT. In general this date would be from Conway NH south to the Mass border. In VT I would look at Woodstock south to the border and south central Maine. By the 15th the color will be well into the Massachusetts areas and even pushing south.

Stowe Inn Vermont In a comment, Misty asked me where I would recommend finding a room for her fall foliage vacation?

Stowe Inn Vermont

Fourth; Winging it, this is always the goal but there are times that reservations are advisable. During popular weekends, like Columbus weekend (CDW).. and that weekend is 9-12 October… More than a million people flood into New England for the colorful show and I suspect that rooms will be at a premium. Since you are traveling with your in-laws and wife and or kids… I will bet you’ll want a room at this point, because If I was traveling with my in-laws, I wouldn’t want them looking at me and wondering where they are sleeping that night. Maybe they are devil may care types and they are offering to bring sleeping bags, then that is up to you…

Next Lisa says you may be able to find a place to stay but it may not be what you are expecting. You’ll have to lower your expectations in hopes of getting a room.
During the week you will have a lot more luck as weekends are usually filled up… If you were traveling alone you could bring a sleeping bag and be prepared to sleep in the car.
During the week you will have a lot more luck as weekends are usually filled up…

Zombie walk in Salem

visit a fun yard cemetery

Last; I would head north into VT and NH and after the CDW, head over to Maine and Bar Harbor (Bah Habah as the locals say it) 🙂 Then you can travel down the coast, stop in Salem MA to get a feel for the Halloween fun and back to Boston. If you still have lots of time left in your trip head over to western MA and explore some more. You didn’t give dates but I think this will get you pointed in the right direction..
Good Luck

There are lots of variables in here that I just don’t know. But hopefully this will answer a question or two for you. If not? well you can leave a comment for me or head over to Autumn Advice and register on the foliage forum there and strike up a conversation with others. There’s only about 30 people registered there now but I hope that once enough people join up they will create a small foliage community. Talking about what they have found and where they stayed…

That’s the goal at least…

Jeff "Foliage" Folger  You can purchase images by visiting my Fine Art Gallery websites
Subscribe to my Newsletter - If you would like to sign up for my Fine Art America Newsletter (click this link and a window will open allowing you to sign up). Why sign up for the newsletter? Contests, discount codes on my artwork, maybe an excerpt from my book "Exploring the back roads of New England with Jeff Foliage"... Yes you heard me right... (Damn now I have to start writing it!)



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Jeff Foliage

My name is Jeff Folger,
but people call me Jeff Foliage.
I have several pages that I write blogs for such as:
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff
I live in Salem, Massachusetts and work as a blogger and Travel Photographer. I'm also the founder of the New England Photography Guild.
Feel free to visit me on my blogs and see what life in New England is like.

I started with Yankee Magazine as their first blogger on everything fall foliage. Now I blog on my own blog on my favorite subject, telling leaf peepers where the fall foliage is showing up in New England and helping them (to some extent) plan their fall foliage vacations.
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Can you “wing it” on Columbus day weekend? — 11 Comments

  1. thanks mucho, Jeff. I’ll plan on a drive North after our Sufi retreat in Garrison.

    best, Fred

  2. Jeff, do you have a recommended route for seeing the fall foliage in Vermont, New Hampshire, & Maine? We will fly into Boston & rent a car. How many days do we need to plan? Thanks so much for your input. I really love your blog & your beautiful photos.
    Joyce Masters

    • That is a real tough one. You will need to look at my planning section. Read anything that sounds interesting on the right side of the page.. 🙂 Ok start with anything that has planning in the title then read the rest…

      Generally if you allowed 3 days per area (you’ll notice I did not say state because it’s almost impossible to do an entire state in one season. You might do northern VT, then Northern to central NH, then southern to coastal Maine… between 6 to 9 days…

  3. Jeff I found my issue with camping we are leaving Missouri in Oct 9th for a two week stay. Most of the campgrounds I find are closing on Columbus Day. We need an electric site in the Acadia NP area any suggestions to check out?

  4. Jeff, speaking only from my personal viewpoint, I’d venture to say that one’s chances of successfully “winging it” can depend on one’s finances — e.g., if at 4 pm you start ringing around for a room for that night within, say, a 30- or 40-mile radius of where you are just then and the only rooms available are $200 and up, can you afford it? It’s why I tend to plan everything very carefully, whether foliage trip or otherwise. It’s why I told a friend yesterday who’s recovering from an operation, “Sure, I’d love to come see you later this month, but can you fix me a room at the guest house? Even my usual crappy motel [in R.I.] is too expensive for my pocket in the summer.”

    • That sounds about right.. When I’m out by myself I’m looking for cheap, sometimes I find it and sometimes I don’t. I usually end up spending 90-120 per/night…
      Maybe you could look at Fred’s question on this page and see if you can tell him about the hudson valley.. I’ll answer it but I but you’ll have more experience on NY than me…

  5. I will be in Garrison, NY Oct 10-12. Will the leaves there likely have changed by then? If not where might I drive further north after Oct 12 to enjoy the Fall colors, brother?
    Uncle Fred fischer

    • Well Fred I’ve asked Nancy to chime in on this because she lives in NY. But if my 2 cents is worth much over on that side of things… I would say that you may be a little light on strong colors. I think you may have to go north 50 or so miles from the standpoint that NYC gets peak or strong color around 1 Nov. Garrison is only 54 miles north of there and I’m thinking peak for 24 Oct.
      The should be 25% – 40% colors in that area… and that is real pretty. But I think you’ll want to try a bit further north to find 70% and above fall colors… That week the colors will be approaching Garrison and as I look at the map I see the Catskill mountains N by NW and I would head there. From what my NY photographer friends tell me, that is really pretty in the fall.

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