Get ready for ‘really good color’ this fall foliage season

When’s the best time to see the fall colors in the D.C. area, and where should you go?

Virginia Tech professor John Seiler said that he expects the peak of color to be on Oct. 31.

“I’m expecting really good color” for this year’s fall foliage season, said Seiler, who teaches tree biology.

He said good rainfall this summer and fall has helped make trees healthy, and he expects those trees to provide some spectacular color, possibly a little bit earlier than last year.

His recommends getting in the car and to “head for the hills” in the Virginia countryside.

The Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive provide some of the best fall shows.

The peak of leaf-peeping for those heading to the mountains, such as Shenandoah, is Oct. 24. Closer to the D.C. area, it’s around Oct. 31.

“You’re gonna see a lot of different tree species, which translates to you’re gonna see a lot of different tree colors,” Seiler said.

He said Virginia, in particular, is a good spot for leaf-peeping because unlike places in other parts of the country that feature the leaves of only a couple of types of trees changing, Virginia has a long list of trees that participate in the annual show.

The scarlet leaves of the scarlet oak, the reddening of the northern oak and black gum trees, or the yellowing of the yellow poplar are among the stars of the show.

Also, with more tree species comes varying times for color changes, which extends the season.

In 2019, a drought led to a short and not-so-stunning season, according to Seiler.

“Leaves still changed color, but they went brown and curly really quick, and came off,” he said.

Last year’s conditions also made people search for good places with color, and this year, you may not have to look that hard.

The only possible show-stopper is the weather. That’s because winds over 40 mph could bring the leaves down early.

If you’re planning a trip to see the region’s autumn beauty, here are some tips when visiting Shenandoah National Park.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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