Leaf peepers save up to see New England for first time

by Lily Maclean | 10/12/98 5:00am

Though it sometimes seems like the center of the world for Dartmouth students, Hanover is only a coffee break stop on autumn foliage tours of New England.

"Leaf Peepers" roll in on chartered buses and disembark for 15 to 30 minutes to mill around downtown and admire the campus.

Foliage tours are a safe and easy way to visit New England, especially for those who do not travel often.

Leaf peepers are generally between 50 to 70 years old and come to see New England during the foliage season, which runs from around September 25 through Columbus Day.

Tours last for five to seven days, covering the main historical and natural attractions in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and sometimes Massachusetts. They make four to five stops a day which can last from thirty minutes to two hours, depending on the nature of the attraction.

These foliage tours are most peepers' first trip to New England.

Ann Taylor, whose group was from the extended Chicago area, is from a small farming community in Illinois.

Having never been to New England before, Taylor said she came to learn the region's history and experience the area's unique foliage.

"If you're not from this area, then you really have no idea what it's like," she said.

A couple from eastern Texas, also on their first trip to New England, chose this tour to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Both said they have been impressed so far by the foliage, despite the recent rainy weather.

Several women, church friends from Texas and Missouri, said they were particularly interested in visiting Hood Museum during their time in Hanover. They said they particularly love New England weather because they can escape from the Texas heat and humidity.

While some locals feel that the foliage has not been particularly impressive this fall, John Cannon, a tour director who lives in Vermont, said he thinks it has been a fine season.

According to Kevin Joseph, a meteorologist from WMUR, cool crisp nights and sunny dry days are the best conditions for colorful foliage, but it has just begun to get cold in recent weeks. These conditions are usually accompanied by light to no wind, which allow the leaves to mature and stay on the trees.

This year trees underwent vast color changes just this past weekend.

Joseph said he thinks the inconsistency in the weather this summer might also have an effect on this year's foliage.