RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The time of year is almost here when Virginia’s golden hour transforms the Old Dominion’s landscape into one of a grandiose bronzed spectacular.

September 23 marks the first official day of fall, bringing cooler days and encouraging exploration of the state’s scenic byways, picturesque small towns and famously beheld Blue Ridge Mountains. As the days get shorter, chlorophyll production in vegetation slows and eventually stops, revealing hidden hues ranging from goldenrod, marigold and rust, to crimson, scarlet and mahogany — providing a striking backdrop reminiscent of flames licking the landscape. A sight loved and appreciated by dendrophiles, photographers and the average Joe alike.

But, the golden-tinged season only lasts for a short while. The Virginia Department of Forestry all-colored foliage has a peak time across Virginia of about two weeks, with exact dates ranging each year based on temperature and rainfall. Find a list below that maps out the best times to see peak fall colors across all of Virginia.

The best time to see peak fall foliage across Virginia

2023 fall foliage map (Photo: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation)

From the highlands of the Blue Ridge to the tidelands of the eastern coast, Virginia’s fluctuating topography allows for several weeks of peak fall foliage across the commonwealth. However, the best colors won’t be in any one area for too long.

As with anything found in nature, the pattern may not be perfect, but peak fall foliage times fall quite closely in line with the invisible borders of Virginia’s five regions.

  1. Early October: Valley and Ridge — Grayson, Alleghany, Harrisonburg, Shenandoah
  2. Early to mid-October: Blue Ridge — Winchester, Charlottesville, Roanoke, Danville
  3. Early to mid-October: Appalachian Plateau — Norton, Wise, Buchanan
  4. Mid-October: Piedmont — Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Clarkesville
  5. Mid to late October: Tidewater Region — Urbanna, Chincoteague, Cape Charles, Norfolk, Virginia Beach

For those traveling the continental United States this autumn, don’t worry – we’ve got your back as well. A map showing the best times to go adventuring and catch the finest fall sights across the nation can be found here.