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How to Plan a Leaf Peeping Road Trip - Say Insurance Collaboration

Inner Basin, Flagstaff

With temps still over 100 in Phoenix, it's hard to imagine that we're just a couple months away from golden-leaved aspens all over Flagstaff.  With that in mind, here's a collaboration with Say Insurance, written by Melissa Hart.

Autumn: The word evokes chilly afternoons spent cheering at football games, spiced cider sipped around evening bonfires, and of course, picture-perfect vistas blanketed in red and gold foliage. Every year, millions of tourists, nicknamed leaf peepers, travel to our country’s most forested regions to gaze at fall colors and explore parks, hiking trails, and towns along the way.

Fall foliage tours offer beauty, adventure, and the opportunity to bond with family and friends, not to mention Instagram-worthy scenery. Need tips on how best to plan for leaf-peeping success? We’ve got you covered, from where to stay and what to eat to how to ensure arrival at your destination when leaves are their most vibrant.

How to Plan a Fall Foliage Trip

Striking out in pursuit of autumn colors? Follow these tips to ensure a successful fall foliage trip.

Predict the peak

Trees change color when the days grow shorter. The decrease in sunlight halts chlorophyll production so that a leaf’s green hue fades and gives way to reds, oranges, yellows, and purples. Conifers such as firs and pines retain their green, while the leaves on broadleaf and deciduous trees turn fiery shades before they become brown and drop to the ground.

Mother Nature can be capricious. Temperature and ground moisture affect peak fall foliage seasons in different ways year to year, which makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly when all the trees in a region will turn. However, interactive fall foliage prediction maps approximate when you can observe the stunning show of colors from state to state in any given year.

As a general rule, autumn foliage appears in Canada and northern states in September, and color moves south until November. Each autumn newspapers in various regions of the country put out regular reports geared toward leaf peepers as do local and state government websites.

If social media’s more your speed, visit Facebook pages devoted to photos and information about statewide fall foliage, or follow “fall foliage” feeds on Twitter and Instagram for up-to-the-minute reports and pictures. Apps are available for download as well; they offer tips on everything from where to find beautiful leaf color to how to identify individual tree species.

Reserve lodging early

Leaf-peeping is big business. It pours billions of dollars into local economies, thanks to tourists who need places to eat and sleep during tree-themed road trips. Advanced reservations for lodging or camping spots are prudent for some areas of the country and critical for others.

Tourism guilds suggest that leaf peepers book hotel reservations a few months in advance, while some state parks recommend reserving cabins and yurts as far as 13 months before a vacation. Camping offers another way to experience fall foliage up close — say, right outside your tent. As with hotels and bed and breakfast lodgings, reserve sites early. However, if you’ve missed the window of opportunity, check out one of thousands of free campsites across the country. (Just make sure to follow local regulations about campfires and leave no trace.)

Do you prefer a hybrid of comfy lodge and campground? Try glamping, with thousands of sites across the country that offer creative rentals such as tipis and treehouses outfitted with beds and simple amenities.

Cruise scenic byways

The Federal Highway Administration maintains a map of national scenic byways, perfect for those who want to plan a road trip around fall foliage in any part of the country. Check out this list of state scenic byways and you may just discover spectacular autumn landscapes in your own backyard.

Some leaf peepers opt for a self-guided tour of a particular region of the U.S. by car, courtesy of a brochure or smartphone app. Others prefer to travel by train, bus, or even bicycle or boat. Fall foliage motorcycle rides are popular; these can be self-guided or with an organized tour group.

Eat well

Regardless of how you choose to travel, make sure to pack delicious, fall-themed snacks for the adventure. Pumpkin-spice snack mix is easy to enjoy on the road, as are dried apples, apple cider donuts, spiced nuts, and roasted pumpkin seeds. And don’t forget a thermos of Nutella-spiked coffee or homemade apple cider.

Don’t feel like cooking? Arrange for an orchard to ship a box of fried cakes and apples before your trip, and end each day with a glass of craft cider ordered online.

Remember to stretch your legs

Physical activity helps ward off road fatigue and allows you to mingle with locals and observe wildlife. Consider planning your autumn expedition around one of the many harvest festivals around the country. Check out a corn maze, a pumpkin patch, or a U-pick farm that allows you to pick your own apples, grapes, or sunflowers.

You may also want to lace up your hiking shoes and head for the trails, or jump on your bike to pedal tree-lined roads across the country. If you’re into water sports, you can explore a variety of routes through lovely landscapes via kayak or canoe.

The pursuit of gorgeous photos can fuel physical activity. Get up before dawn to capture magical landscapes in the early morning light, and note that clouds and rain can also create striking images. (Just make sure to respect wildlife, local flora, and safety precautions in your pursuit of a great pic.)









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Gaia x GTFO = Discounted GPS!

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