Autumn Arrives in the American Northeast

Each September brings Labor Day, the equinox, and a change of seasons. Temperatures and hours of daylight begin decreasing in North America, due to the Earth’s orientation. Deciduous trees find it uneconomical to continue photosynthesis under these circumstances and consequently shed their leaves. But before the foliage falls, trees begin to stop producing chlorophyll. And without that green pigment, the bright colors of autumn dominate broadleaf canopies, a phenomenon that should be particularly vivid in North America this year as a result of this summer’s drought.

Vermont FoliagePhoto: Liz West

Leaves change color first in the north, before the trend heads south. Foliage tourists travel all the way to America’s northern border states to see forests full of red, orange, yellow, and purple. In Vermont, foliage tourists and college students temporarily boost the population every autumn. And the influx is so great that this year Vermonters moved their annual LGBT Pride Celebration to September so that students and foliage tourists could attend the party.

A bit to the west, upstate New Yorkers are ready for autumn. Birds have flown south and mammals are maturing. Colorful wildflowers on the ground have been replaced by changing leaves in the treetops. The fauna fatten up for the winter by gorging on plants. Local people, in turn, add select fauna to their menus.

Like Vermont, upstate New York is open to tourists. There are countless autumn leaves, millions of acres of countryside, and thousands of miles of waterways in the Adirondack region. Hot air balloons and corn mazes offer family-friendly fun. And history buffs can take guided tours of a homestead and explore Lake Placid’s Olympic Sports Complex and Museum.

Finger Lakes FoliagePhoto: Stevehager

The Finger Lakes region includes Rochester, and New York’s National Museum of Play, which offers hands on exhibits for kids. The Naples Grape Festival in Naples, New York features wine tastings for grownups, along with music, art, and food for all ages. And those who prefer a quiet journey through the great outdoors can choose from dozens of hiking and biking trails in the area.

Hudson Valley FoliagePhoto: Doug Kerr

Close to New York City yet full of wide-open spaces, the Hudson Valley region has much to offer. The Hudson Valley Apple Trail runs through 25 miles of Ulster County’s apple farms. And agritourism (agricultural tourism) activities near the trail include hayrides and crop picking.

A market sells produce and prepared treats fresh from the source. But visitors who prefer to stay indoors can wander through historic buildings that once housed President Franklin D. Roosevelt, writer Washington Irving, and industrialists from the Vanderbilt and Rockefeller families.

Rural Upstate New YorkPhoto: Doug Kerr

Although the beach season is over, outdoor fun doesn’t end with summer. Autumn is a wonderful time to head north of the Northeast Corridor. From the banks of the Connecticut River to the shores of Lake Ontario, autumn leaves form a backdrop for tourist activities. And festivals, museums, and agritourism activities await visitors near the border.