Virginia is diverse in landscape, from the highest mountains to the Eastern Shore. The variety in landscape and elevation provides a long fall foliage season, starting earliest in the higher elevations and moving eastward. Fall colors generally peak sometime between October 10 and October 31; however, these dates can vary from year to year, based on factors such as temperature and rainfall.
Virginia’s many species of deciduous trees create an interesting mix of autumn colors. Here are some colors you can expect from some of our most common species:
|Beech||Yellow to orange|
|Dogwood||Red to maroon|
|Hickory||Gold to bronze|
|Red maple||Brilliant scarlet|
|Sugar maple||Bright orange|
|Oaks||Red, amber, russet|
|Tulip poplar||Golden yellow|
Weekly Fall Foliage Report
December 1, 2021
Many trees are now bare. It’s time to appreciate the deep green of pines, juxtaposed with patches of late-clinging coppery oak leaves. Enjoy the starkness of bare branches crisscrossed over blue skies, because in just a few months, pale green buds will start the whole foliage process over again. Check back next September!
- Fall Foliage Report – (800)424-LOVE (begins mid-late September each year)
- Blue Ridge Parkway – (828)298-0398 (press “3”)
- George Washington and Jefferson National Forest
- Fall Colors of Your National Forests from the USDA Forest Service
- Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage Prediction Map
- All things Fall In Virginia from the Virginia Tourism Corporation
- Find a state forest to view fall color
- Prince William Forest Park is an oasis of natural beauty and human history located just south of Washington, DC.
Fall Foliage Driving Tours
Try our VDOF-recommended Fall Foliage Driving Tours.
Why Leaves Change Color
Most leaf colors are already in the plant leaf.
- Chlorophyll gives leaves their familiar green color.
- Carotenoids produce yellow, orange, and brown colors.
- Anthocyanins add color to red apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and plums. They are water soluble and appear in the watery liquid of leaf cells.
Both chlorophyll and carotenoids are present in the chloroplasts of leaf cells throughout the growing season. During this time, chlorophyll is produced and broken down, and leaves appear green. As days get shorter, chlorophyll production slows down until it stops. The green color is no longer visible, and other pigments present (carotenoids) with the chlorophyll are then revealed. During autumn, bright light and excess plant sugars produce anthocyanins within leaf cells.
|Forest Facts: Virginia in the Fall||F00009|
Forest facts information sheet provides an illustrated explanation of the science of leaves changing colors, the role of pigments, effects of the calendar and weather, why these changes occur, and fall leaf identification information. Target audience: Youth – elementary age. Printed copies available.