Tips for Optimal Leaf Peeping

flicker credit: slack12

From afar, a kaleidoscope of color hugs the undulating contours of the mountains. Up close, the dazzling reds, oranges, and golds take the breath away. Radiant yellows shine like a beacon in the dappled light of the hardwood forests. The natural splendor of fall foliage provides an annual peep show throughout the eastern US and is a backdrop for the perfect autumn getaway.

The yearly color display depends on temperature and rainfall, and higher elevations of each region turn first, but the change tends to start in mid-September in the northeast and continues to roll southward through October.

Click here for a live fall foliage map of New England:

The annual spectacular motivates multitudes to plan a vacation around the show. Whether you take a self-guided driving vacation along the Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina or an escorted tour through New England, it is absolutely essential to make reservations in advance. You just cannot assume that you will be able to find a place to stay at the spur of the moment during peak times. Likewise, fall foliage group tours have a set number of seats available and the ease of having transportation, hotels and sightseeing packaged into one nice bundle makes them very popular.

Because Mother Nature can be unpredictable, it is a good idea to incorporate other activities besides leaf peeping into your trip, just in case the colors are not at their peak. In New England, visit a working farm and taste their apple cider or maple sugar, stop at a country store or a farmer’s market. In the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, spend a day at the magnificent Biltmore in Asheville, ride a zip line or take a hot air balloon ride. Many communities throw festivals in the fall, so join in the local fun or take a hike and a picnic.

The Colors of Fall along the Blue Ridge Parkway: [youtube Lleg2UKXJgI]

To avoid crowds, plan your visit for weekdays, Sunday through Thursday, and consider heading out for your day’s activities early. Keep in mind that autumn temperatures can change quite a bit throughout the day, so dressing in layers that you can take off as the day warms up will keep you comfortable. Often mornings are foggy in mountain terrain, but don’t despair if you can’t see for miles. It usually burns off as the day unfolds but until then, a little fog can set the scene for some dramatic photos.

flickr credit: catchesthelight

Speaking of photos, the soft light of mornings and evenings will bring out the fantastic array of color evenly, while the direct sunlight of midday is often too harsh. The vast landscape photo is nice, but don’t forget the small scale. For visual interest, try a close up of multi-colored leaves floating in a stream or an upward shot taken from the base of a tree with vividly yellow leaves against a blue sky background. A fence post, a country church or a pumpkin are also great fall photo subjects.

There is still time to make reservations for a fall foliage trip, but contact Covington Travel soon to make your arrangements to view the colorful majesty.


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