Start Planning for Fall Now With This Interactive Foliage Map

While summer doesn't officially end until September 22, it’s never too early to get excited for fall foliage season. To see when the leaves outside your window will be at their most brilliant, check out this map for the 2018 season from SmokyMountains.com.

The tourism website puts together this annual interactive visual by pulling historical weather data and forecasts for the upcoming months from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as historical leaf peak trends. By using the slider at the bottom of the map, you can see when fall foliage is expected to peak across the contiguous United States.

As of September 10, for example, most of the country was rendered in green, which meant the leaves had not started to change yet. Move just a week or two ahead into mid-September, however, and the northern and central states show up with blotches of fall colors, with the lightest shade of yellow indicating minimal leaf change and deep red signaling peak foliage. By early November, most of the U.S. is brown, which means the leaves have passed their peak.

While the leaves of deciduous trees start to change hues at roughly the same time each year, the exact patterns vary based on factors like rain and temperature.

"Although simply entering rainfall, temperature data, elevations, and other data points into a model will never be 100 percent accurate, this combined with our proprietary, historical data drives our model to become more accurate each year," says SmokyMountains.com co-founder and CTO Wes Melton, who created the map.

Now that you know when exactly the trees will hit their peak, you need to make sure you’re around to see them. Here are some of the best spots in the U.S. to take in the seasonal show.

The World’s Steepest Street Is in Harlech, Wales

Tonktiti/iStock via Getty Images
Tonktiti/iStock via Getty Images

It wasn’t by chance that Ffordd Pen Llech just clinched the Guinness World Record for the world’s steepest street: The townspeople of Harlech, Wales, worked hard to steal the recognition from Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand.

At its steepest point, the gradient of the street in Wales is 37.5 percent, beating out Baldwin Street’s 35 percent. “I feel sorry for Baldwin Street and the New Zealanders,” Gwyn Headley, who spearheaded the campaign, told The Guardian, “But steeper is steeper.”

Guinness World Records has a surprising 10 criteria for the honor, including a blueprint of the street in question. This was the toughest for Harlech residents, because the thousand-year-old road was there long before roads were planned out with blueprints. So surveyor Myrddyn Phillips created one from scratch, using a satellite dish and chalk to calculate every possible measurement. Another criterion is that the road must actually be used by both people and vehicles. This one was easy, considering it leads to Harlech Castle, a UNESCO Heritage Site that was built over 700 years ago.

Having just lost to England in the Cricket World Cup, New Zealand is having a rough month—which Headley does feel bad about. “At least they have the Rugby World Cup … for the moment,” she said.

Because of its opportunities for bikers, motorcyclists, and other thrill seekers, Baldwin Street has become something of a tourist destination, which Dunedin residents have capitalized on by establishing nearby food, drink, and souvenir shops. Since the street is just as steep as it was before losing the world record, it’ll likely still function as a tourist attraction. But the townspeople are understandably disappointed, and one even suggested resurfacing it to increase the gradient.

In the meantime, Harlech is planning a party. “We know the anticipation has been building for quite some time now and I’m pleased to see the outcome has brought such joy to the residents,” Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday told The Guardian. “I hope Harlech enjoys the celebrations and that the new title brings lots of people to the beautiful town.”

[h/t The Guardian]

Themed Geography Grab Bag Quiz

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER