Sep 14, 2022 - Things to Do

Fall colors 2022 map: When and where to see Utah's best foliage

A map of the United States shows where fall leaves are expected to be peaking on Oct. 3.
The fall foliage outlook for the week of Oct. 3, according to Smokymountains.com. Image courtesy of David Angotti

Fall is coming (believe it or not), and it's time to start scanning the calendar for optimal leaf peeping!

The forecast: The prolonged summer heat means color changes could come a week or two later than usual this year, according to this year's fall leaf map from David Angotti at SmokyMountains.com.

  • Look for patches of color change in the northern mountains this week and next, with peak colors expected in early October.
  • In southern Utah, the height of color changing season should come in mid-October.

Yes, but: Altitude and tree species can affect what counts as "peak," and it's not always predictable.

  • I've seen maples at lower altitudes like Killyon Canyon look amazing in September, and much higher aspens at Alta peaking a full week into October.

What to expect: Fall foliage should look pretty good this year, Darren McAvoy, a forestry professor at USU, told Axios.

  • The ongoing drought might fade colors a bit, but we had decent monsoonal moisture this year, which should help, McAvoy said.
  • The insects and diseases that can ruin a display haven't been seen this year in Utah's forests.

Tips: I chased the perfect "peak" of fall foliage for years before I realized that it doesn't actually look significantly better or worse from one week to the next — especially before the climax.

  • The biggest risk is waiting too long and missing the leaves before a fall storm brings them down.
  • If you're trying to schedule a portrait, it's more important to find a few vibrant trees than to predict the very best moment at the top of Guardsman Pass.

The bottom line: Perfect timing matters less than exploring multiple places in late September and early October.

  • You can miss a lot waiting for the aspens to take on that full golden orange.
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