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Plan Your Autumn Camping Trip Around These Peak Fall Colors Dates

Pick the perfect time to camp with these predicted fall foliage dates. 

Fall is a fantastic time to squeeze in one more camping trip. If you're like me, there's nothing quite like a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cool autumn morning during the peak fall color. It's even better if you're enjoying it in camp.

And the crisp, cool nights make for great sleeping in the outdoors and fantastic times around a crackling campfire. The only thing better than all that? That would be timing one last getaway camping trip to perfectly coincide with enjoying the color change of the beautiful fall foliage.

This year, we learned about a new fall foliage prediction map that draws on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) data to produce an interactive peak fall foliage map that helps what days will be best for enjoying the colors here in the United States produced by You can see and interact with that map below to see what the peak foliage season will be for your area.

It should be worth noting predicting fall colors isn't easy.

"Although the scientific concept of how leaves change colors is fairly simple, predicting the precise moment the event will occur is extremely challenging," Smokey Mountain's data scientist and CTO Wes Melton said. "The major factors impacting peak fall are sunlight, precipitation, soil moisture and temperature. Although we cannot control Mother Nature and ensure 100% accuracy, our data sources are top-tier and each year we refine our algorithmic model achieving higher accuracy over time. "

Who would have thought predicting peak color would be so challenging? There's more that goes into these color reports than we realize. Not surprisingly, if you live in the areas near the bottom of the map, you're going to have to wait a little longer for peak times.

This map is certainly helpful if you're looking for more specific dates to schedule some limited vacation time after Labor Day weekend.

It would appear if you're in the north, your best bet for enjoying the colors is going to be early and mid-October. The exceptions are northern areas in places like northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, parts of Montana, mid-Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and the northern parts of New England.

If you don't have time at those dates, your next best bet would be more southerly or far western areas which are peaking in late October close to Halloween and early November. Areas in the middle part of the country like Kansas, Missouri and the southern parts of Illinois and Indiana will change shortly after that. Places like North Carolina won't peak until early November.

No matter where you choose, fall is an awesome time to camp. There's the great scenery, popular camping areas are less crowded and there's no bugs!

It's been a while since I've headed up to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Based on this fall foliage report, it looks like early October will be the prime time to do it. Maybe I'll have to carve out some time to do it again this year!