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'Foliage Indicator' Shows Visitors The Best Leaf Peeping Spots

Foliage in Vermont, pictured here in Sept. 2014, draws plenty of tourists to the state.

The next few weekends are expected to be among the busiest for fall tourists hoping to peep some leaves and sample cider donuts, but Saturday’s rain forced some visitors to alter their plans.

On Route 100 between Waterbury and Stowe, traffic was crawling this weekend.

It’s a great spot to play the license plate game. New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey, not to mention Quebec, are all represented within a five minute drive.

That makes sense, becuase according to data compiled by the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, tourists visit Vermont from those places in the highest numbers.

Many were hoping to hike, or at least spend time outside to check out this year’s brilliant fall foliage. Rain changed those plans, but there’s still plenty to do.

The Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center is hopping, and a line of cars are waiting for entrance to the Ben & Jerry’s factory.

Cabot Creamery’s retail shop is also bustling. Customers inside are lining up to sample the shop’s cheese.

Laurie Callahan is the director of Retail Stores and Tourism for Cabot Creamery.

“It’s been a great summer, great fall,” said Callahan. “Today we’re extremely busy with it being a little bit dreary outside, people are finding for things to do inside.”

According to the state, fall accounts for $460 million of Vermont’s tourism spending. That’s a little over 25 percent of the state’s overall year-round tourism revenue.

Jasmine Bigelow is the Marketing Director of the Stowe Area Association. She says tourism is particularly important to this area’s economy.

"We have our secret foliage spies out there, letting us know where the color is." - Jasmine Bigelow, Stowe Area Association

“Tourism is a number one economic force in this area,” said Bigelow. “Stowe has been hosting travelers literally for over 200 years, and that’s because of the scenic beauty.”

Bigelow says the stage was set for fall tourism this year with great summer weather. That’s a big improvement over last year’s rainy season.

And the Stowe Area Association is keeping track of the fall colors on their website with a “foliage indicator” that lets users know where to find the brightest colors.

Credit Courtesy Stowe Area Association
The Stowe Area Association provides a list of scenic drives on their website, which includes "color ratings."

“So we have our secret foliage spies out there, letting us know where the color is,” said Bigelow.

Both leaf peepers and local businesses should still have another few weeks to enjoy the foliage.

Annie Russell was VPR's Deputy News Director. She came to VPR from NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered and WNYC's On The Media. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
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