Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I go if I'm coming to Maine during the week of:

September 8-14:
This is the very early stage of our fall foliage season. To find color, we suggest you travel to northern Maine - Aroostook County, Aroostook State Park, Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Fort Kent, Presque Isle, Ashland, Mars Hill. Peak color typically occurs in these locations the last week in September.

September 15-21:
Maine is traditionally experiencing less than 30% color change at this time of the year. Higher elevations in northern areas display the most color. We suggest you visit Sherman Mills, Baxter State Park, Shin Pond, Ashland and Portage.

September 22-28:
Maine's hillsides are beginning to blush with more than half of the trees displaying fall colors. The best locations to leaf peep are anywhere in northern Maine, like Aroostook State Park, Route 11, Eagle Lake Public Reserved Land unit, Pittston Farm, Kineo and Rockwood.

September 29 - October 5:
This is the best week for Peak Color in central Maine. Fall foliage color is in full swing in western and central Maine: Visit Grafton Notch State Park, Route 17 near Richardson Lake, Bigelow Preserve, Route 27/16 in Carrabassett Valley, Cathedral Pines Rest Area in Eustis, the lookout from Eustis Ridge, Mt. Blue State Park in Weld, Tumbledown Mountain Range, Greenville, Moosehead, Jackman, Lily Bay State Park, Rockwood, Sebec Lake, and Dover-Foxcroft.

October 6-12:
Best week for Peak Color in western and southern Maine This is one of the peak weeks for leaf peeping as peak conditions are coloring Maine hillsides. Visit Fryeburg, Bethel, Rangeley, Mt. Blue, Skowhegan, Farmington, Rumford, north of Portland, and the greater Augusta area.

October 13-19:
Best week for Peak Color in southern and coastal Maine. Find peak color south of Portland, Sebago Lake region, Bridgton Limerick, Waterboro, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells, and York.

Where and when can I see peak color in Maine?

  • Northern Maine: last week in September
  • Central and Western Maine: first week in October
  • Coastal and Southern Maine: second and the third week in October
  • See When & Where to Visit for a chart of historical peak foliage dates, and more trip-planning information.

Can I get more information about Maine trees?

View our Maine Tree Guide and Maine Forest Facts pages. For more information please visit www.maineforestservice.com.

Find more information about managing trees on your land, visit Be Woods Wise.

Which state parks have the best fall color?

Aroostook State Park
Bradbury Mountain State Park
Camden Hills State Park
Fort Knox State Historic Site

Grafton Notch State Park
Lamoine State Park
Mount Blue State Park
Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park

Why do leaves change color in the fall?

View our animated movie to learn more! (Flash Player required)

Springtime and plenty of chlorophyll.
Each spring leaves contain green, red, orange and yellow pigments. Throughout the summer, the green is dominant due to chlorophyll production.

Day length, rainfall and sugar.
Many factors influence autumn coloration and the most important being day length, followed by rainfall, sugar accumulations in the leaves, wind, and prolonged periods of cool, bright, sunny autumn weather without a killing frost. The brighter the light during this period, the greater the production of these pigments.

Cool autumn days.
When the days of autumn are sunny and cool, the nights chilly but not freezing, the brightest colorations usually develop. This is when the production of chlorophyll , which is created by sunlight during photosynthesis, slows down.
Autumn colors. As sunlight hours decrease, the green starts to disappear and the other pigments - red, orange, yellow, scarlet and purple - come alive!

Getting ready for winter.
Meanwhile the tree produces a waxy substance to protect itself from the elements once a leaf separates from the branch. That's why leaves can withstand strong wind and rain during the summer, but come down so easily during a fall rainstorm. The key is to get a picture of your favorite tree when you see it: don't wait!

What colors do Maine trees display in the fall?

Here's a guide to the species of trees and the color they produce during autumn:

Yellow:
Green and black ash, basswood, beech, birches, butternut, and elm. In the maple species - boxelder, mountain, silver, striped and sugar. And don't forget mountain ash, poplar, serviceberry, willow, and witch hazel.

Red and Scarlet:
Red, mountain, and sugar maples; black, red, scarlet and white oak; hornbeam, sumac and tupelo.

Brown:
White and black oak

Purple:
White ash and witch hazel.

Visit the Maine Tree Guide for more about Maine trees and coloring book pictures of Maine tree leaves!

How do I take great fall foliage pictures?

Here are a few tips for those of you who are taking photos with point-and-shoot cameras.

Use 400-speed color print film. The lenses of most point-and-shoots are fairly slow. A fast film helps you on those less-than-bright days and the quality and sharpness of modern 400-speed print films is outstanding. Don't worry about using it when the sun is bright. Print films have broad exposure latitudes and at worse, your automatic camera will be using its fastest shutter speeds (cutting down on camera shake) and its smallest lens openings (improving depth of focus).

Add Depth. Add a sense of depth to your landscapes. When shooting the distant hills of color, include a closer tree, or other object in the foreground.

Scale. Occasionally include an object for a sense of scale to visually depict how large a landmark is in real life. This way, when you're home looking at your vacation photographs, you can point to how high you were on top of Mt. Battie in Camden, for instance. You can include a man-made object or another person to achieve a sense of scale.

Think Macro! Don't forget the macro setting on your camera. Most point-and-shoot cameras have a close-up or macro setting (many times indicated by a tulip symbol on the controls). Bringing your camera as "up close and personal" as its minimum focusing distance will allow, can give you a whole different type of foliage photo to enhance the large landscapes.

Cloudy Skies? - Don't Despair! If the sun isn't out, sometimes the best foliage shots are possible. As long as you're not insistent on having blue sky in your photos, the light available from overcast or even rainy days can give you a host of colors with a nice even contrast. On especially dark days, one of the new 800 or 1000-speed films might be advisable.

How do I preserve leaves?

There are different ways to preserve leaves. Our suggestion:

Make a solution of one-third glycerine and two parts boiling water. Place the stems in the solution while it's still hot. Keep the leaves in the solution over night. Remove and dry the next day.

To press leaves, place them between sheets of newspaper and place them under something heavy, like a stack of books. You can also press leaves with a warm iron. Place leaves between tissue or wax paper first. The color will last longer if you keep leaves out of direct sunlight and away from the air.

Where Can I purchase a Maine State Parks season/vehicle pass?

You can purchase your Maine State Parks Passport through the website of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.