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Fall colors update

Fall Foliage in Virginia

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:

Tree Color Timing in Fall Season
Black Gum Bright red Early
Dogwood Red to maroon Early
Tulip-poplar Yellow Early
Red Maple Orange to brilliant scarlet Middle
Sugar Maple Bright orange Middle
Beech Yellow to orange Middle
Hickory Gold Middle
Oaks Deep red, amber, russet Late


General timing of fall foliage season, in years of typical rainfall and temperatures


Week of Oct. 10-17, 2022


Weekly Fall Foliage Report

October 12 —

A lot has happened to Virginia’s fall foliage in the past week! Thanks to the cool nights and bright sunny days, most areas in central, northern, and western regions are now sporting autumn colors.

High elevation forests in southwest Virginia and the Alleghenies will peak this weekend, with a few areas already past peak. Most of the lower mountains have around 50% color change. However, areas with abundant oak trees still appear green, as the oaks change later than most species.

In the Piedmont, the overall effect is moving toward gold, accented with red from maples, black gum, dogwood, and sumac. The Coastal Plain is beginning to color as well, especially along city streets and in wet areas like swamps.

Species to note along Virginia roadways are deep red dogwoods, bright red to orange maples, and red Virginia creeper vines clinging to tree trunks. Tulip-poplar, sycamores, and hickories contribute shades of yellow.

Fall Foliage Driving Tours

Try our VDOF-recommended Fall Foliage Driving Tours.

Why Leaves Change Color

  • Chlorophyll gives leaves their familiar green color.
  • Carotenoids produce yellow, orange, and brown colors.
  • Anthocyanins produce red and purple colors and are the same pigments that give color to fruits like blueberries and cherries.

Both chlorophyll and carotenoids are present in the leaf cells throughout the growing season. During this time, chlorophyll is produced and leaves appear green. As days get shorter, chlorophyll production slows and eventually stops. With the green color no longer visible, the yellow carotenoids are revealed. During autumn, bright light and excess plant sugars produce red anthocyanins within leaf cells.

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