Mapping Fall's Advance

The first leaves of the year are turning just about now.

No, it's not too soon for a fall foliage map. The first leaves of the year are turning just about now. In a few days' time, trees in upstate New York, northern Minnesota, and in the higher parts of the Rocky Mountain states will have acquired their first autumnal hues. 

It's the modest beginning of the annual fall offensive, as deciduous trees gradually shift color from their summery shades of green to a riotous variety of yellow and orange, gold and red, brown and rust.

Those colors will gradually deepen and spread throughout almost the entire continental United States. Florida remains mainly unaffected, as are the coastal regions of Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas; and southern parts of California and Arizona.

This map, charting the change in the very colors of fall foliage, is reminiscent of the Japanese tradition to chart the "spring offensive" of the cherry blossoms (see #371). It's taken here from Roadtrippers, which offers tips for foliage tourism across the country.

To get a better perspective on the timing of the color changes, take a look at the composite map below, which shows the change on a per-week basis. These maps can be found here at The page goes into the science of the shifting colors, and quotes Albert Camus, existentialist writer and foliage appreciator: "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."

Strange Maps #736

Got a strange map? Let me know:

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

The world's watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail

Hungarian cartographer travels the world while mapping its treasures.

Strange Maps
  • Simple idea, stunning result: the world's watersheds in glorious colors.
  • The maps are the work of Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs.
  • His job: to travel and map the world, one good cause at a time.
Keep reading Show less
Image source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Though we know today that his policies eventually ended the Great Depression, FDR's election was seen as disastrous by some.
  • A group of wealthy bankers decided to take things into their own hands; they plotted a coup against FDR, hoping to install a fascist dictator in its stead.
  • Ultimately, the coup was brought to light by General Smedley Butler and squashed before it could get off the ground.
Keep reading Show less