It’s that time of year where Instagram, 500px and alike will be rampant with all those foliage images you wish you had shot but didn’t bother to do so last year.

So I’m here to help you gear up and get ready with all the tools needed to get great foliage and fall images across the the US, saying that maybe it might be slightly more focused on NY and the North East but lets not split hairs here.


The million dollar question(s), when and where is a great time and place to visit, well the where is pretty straight forward, anywhere with a lovely stream, landscape with vast scenery of tree lined forest or maybe a pathway through a national state park.

If you are in the North East then Vermont’s sugar maple trees offer a delightful treat when the colors turn bright red and yellow which can be seen in any of the forests from Manchester and upwards. Stratton Pond is also stunning although a bit off the beaten path.

Maine will start to turn around the late September mark and lasts maybe for the longest period I have experienced till mid October and sometimes the last week of October around the coast line surrounding the State Forests and Acadia National Park.

Wisconsin’s Brule River State Forest has some of the states best locations for foliage and maybe the states best season. Whitewater canoeing, kayaking, camping and fishing are all on offer too so spend some time here to unwind as well as taking some fall photography. The fall period here is rather short so get planning.

New Jersey has much to offer for fall, however the Columbia Trail which is an old train track now multi-use path has some amazing locations.  Plenty of covered pathways and leading up to Ken Lockwood Gorge on the left a few miles past the bridge. It’s well worth the visit and bike friendly and maybe the best we to get around and see it all.

Lastly the Adirondacks and Catskills in New York with it’s lakes and mountain ranges which offer so many locations for photography, everywhere from Bear Mountain to Kaaterskill Falls and Pigeon Lake Wilderness which offer excellent areas for those trees changing colors. Plus OK Slip Falls and Trail which has a great array of fall photography offerings. I’d also include Woodstock and the overlook too which has some amazing Sunrise and Sunset over a sprawling landscape of trees.

....AND WHEN....

The “when” is slightly harder depending where you are in the US, however we can have a pretty good guess at the when using some handy websites to keep bookmarked, obviously I can’t vouch for the accuracy but they do offer some great insights at least.

Checkout The Weather Channel for it’s countrywide map of live data, it doesn’t give any kind of predictions but the information is relatively current and up to-date.

For predictions and forward planning then Fall Prediction Map will give a great guide to the entire counties changing fall colors, I highly recommend it and you can plan for the yellow or red colors for your photography. The map comes with a handy slider where you can place over the times you want to visit and see how that impacts the local leaf color.



So the gear list I take with me for every fall shoot is actually quite minimal, firstly I hate having loads of gear on my back but it’s very driven by what I want to shoot. For landscapes then I will have my trusty Tamron 15-30mm SP with me, I’d also throw in a 50mm or 35mm Prime lens so I can get a great depth of field for other kinds of work if I’m looking for something other than landscapes. Or a 90mm macro for all the close up leaf and macro nature that is well worth seeking out. Finding a bug to photography on a fall leaf is strangely satisfying for me.

It’s worth thinking about your bag too, lightweight is key to long days of hiking. If you are just taking one body, one or two small lenses with you then the Vanguard Adapter 46 is very functional and superb value, although I wouldn’t expect it last a very hard climbing session or more than 2 or 3 seasons at best.  If you want something a little more sturdy and hard wearing then the Think Tank BACKLIGHT series is one of the best travel backpacks money can buy, has loads of space without being bulky and is better constructed for a longer life, the 18l is enough for me but for longer hikes you might want more.

Other kit great for exploring the outdoors…

Suggested Packing List


If you are travelling “off-piste” so to speak and out of the mobile network range, you could also find the private SMS network created by goTenna useful using these handy “Mesh” devices. What a goTenna Mesh device does is syncs with your mobile phone via Bluetooth and creates its own private short range cell phone tower, so you can remain connected to those on your contact list that has one too and remains within range.

Others near by with a goTenna Mesh synced to their phone can communicate with you and relay messages automatically to those further away as well. Range covers around 1-4 miles (depending on obstacles in the way) and best of all no additional charges are needed for goTenna Mesh to work, saying there are a few “Pro” features that are around $9.99 a year to enable the mobile phone app.

Once you are up and running you can send SMS and location pins to each others via the Mesh community in range of each others devices, super handy if you are to split up during an adventure or have an emergency of some sort. They are super small, about 4 inches long and have a handle that can attach to a bag, the handle is available in many colors too.

You can buy goTenna Mesh double packs here on Amazon goTenna



  • Tonya
    Posted September 19, 2018

    Great job! I especially like the tip about staying safe. I have a stun gun that looks like a point and shoot camera. I also keep pepper spray.

    • Dan M Lee
      Posted September 19, 2018

      I hope you never get to use your stun gun 😀

  • seraphine
    Posted September 19, 2018

    great post its really thoughtful of you to share tips on how to successfully document the season but most importantly how to stay safe while on adventures. am actually in the market for a bag so will check out the recommendation. Thank you and happy fall Leaf Peeping.

  • Christian Sachs
    Posted September 20, 2018

    So much information in one spot!! Cannot wait to road trip with the family!

    • Dan M Lee
      Posted September 21, 2018

      I hope you enjoy fall and this photography guide for this season

  • Wendy
    Posted September 20, 2018

    Wow, such helpful information….stuff you don’t always think about! And yes, safety is key. Thanks for the tips! You capture the essence of autumn beautifully.

  • Janette T
    Posted October 2, 2020

    This Fall Photography Guides was just the ticket for us to find the best foliage colors in Maine ! Thx

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