Leaf peeping in Maine

October 01 • 2012

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If you’re not a New England native, you may never have heard about “leaf peepers.” But if you’re getting married here during the fall season, you’re sure to come across a few.

Starting in mid-September, the foliage in Maine’s trees begins its transition from green to vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red and even purple. So breathtaking is the autumn show that visitors from far and wide travel to Maine just to witness and photograph it. You’ll see the peepers stopped along roadways and strolling through state parks, cameras pointed upward, through the month of October. They gaze more than they peep, really.

So what do the peepers have to do with your wedding? Well, their arrival signals the peak fall foliage season, a time that’s ideal for outdoor events and portraits — a backdrop of bright reds and yellows makes for stunning views and photographs. Temperatures are milder during this period as well, with a nip just starting to permeate the summer air. It’s one of the few precious times of year in Maine when you can host an outdoor wedding without worrying about scorching heat, snowfall or mud.

But the leaf peepers come aboard cars and buses, and are known to clog up roads as they search out the best foliage locations. In late September, you’ll find them in northern Maine, then in central and western parts of the state during the first week of October. The peak season ends in coastal and southern Maine in mid-October, and that’s where you’re most likely to hit a traffic jam or two.

Hotels, inns and B&Bs are more likely to book up during these weeks, too, so plan ahead if it looks like your wedding date and location will coincide with peak peeping. For up-to-date foliage reports and maps, check out mainefoliage.com.

Wondering what makes the leaves change colors? During the warmer months, green pigment in the leaves is dominant due to high chlorophyll production. But as the days get shorter, the green fades and the other pigments already present in the foliage start to steal the show. Now you know. Consider yourself an honorary leaf peeper.

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