Breathtaking fall colors: where to find the best!

Once again, it’s the fall season in America, and as temperatures begin to cool, deciduous trees from coast to coast are changing into their spectacular autumn clothing!

Whether it’s a spur-of-the-moment romantic getaway weekend, or a memorable family trip, this could be the perfect time for you to take a couple of days and catch the breathtaking display of color that Mother Nature has provided for your pleasure.

If you don’t live in an area where the fall colors are very exciting, or if you’d just like a change of scenery, you might be surprised to find how close you are to some outstanding fall color shows.

This week, I’ll point you at some web sites that will quickly and easily help you pinpoint the best places to see fall colors, both close to home and a little farther afield. This extremely comprehensive site, hosted by the USDA Forest Service, lists both national forest and regional fall foliage ‘hot spots’ that should provide enough information for even the most dedicated leaf peepers.

For example, you can click on the region that interests you (each regional heading lists the states that are covered) and scroll down to see a report on an individual forest or location. Some listings are updated almost weekly by local “spotters” who provide online advice about current color conditions, and also include the estimated peak color period and recommended viewing routes.

And if you think the only place to see superb fall colors is New England, this site will make you think again! You’ll find current reports and photographs of recommended fall color viewing sites in states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana and Texas, among many others.

Browse through this site and you’ll learn that the Davy Crockett National Forest in Texas is best viewed from highways 7, 103W and 21 to Ratcliff Lake and the peak viewing period is mid-November, but as of this week, “recent rains and mild temperatures are keeping things very green in Texas. There are no real signs of fall colors at this time,” according to the USDA Forest Service spotter.

http://www.NCNATURAL.COM/fall-color/ This site concentrates on fall colors in the eastern United States. If you want to see eastern colors, this is an ideal place to start. But regardless of your location or travel plans, take a look at the section titled “Fall Color Finder.” This is a visual reference guide to many of the trees that sport the most spectacular autumn color. The Weather Channel has created a useful site to help coordinate your leaf-peeping this year. You can select a region and see one of those familiar Weather Channel maps. But in this case, the colored bands don’t represent incoming snow storms or hurricanes. The colors refer to current color conditions such as: past peak, peak, near peak and patchy. Well worth checking before you set out on your trip. You’ve probably already thought of this, but just in case... go to Google, type in the words “fall color” and the state that interests you, and you’ll see an entire Google-full of web site resources you can click on!

If the kids ask you why leaves change color in the fall and your answer is, “Um, they just do,” then you might want to take a look at this web site hosted by the Morton Arboretum. It’s a comprehensive explanation with some attractive photos, but if all that stuff about carotenoids and anthocyanins is starting to make YOU change color, you might prefer the next site: This site is by “Science Made Simple” and is intended for children, but it’s a good (and brief) explanation for just about anyone.

Regardless of where you live, you’re in driving distance of some spectacular fall colors, so go out and treat yourself to a free show! And if you’d like to plant some trees of your own that will provide future fall color, send me an e-mail (including your location) and I’ll give you some suggestions.