Fall foliage brings beautiful colors, tourists to Hanover

by Emily Zhang | 10/15/19 2:20am

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Peak foliage brings bright colors to trees on campus.

by Sydney Gillman / The Dartmouth

As autumn arrives and leaves begin to change from green to gold, tourists flock to Hanover for leaf-peeping — the annual activity of viewing and photographing the fall foliage.

According to the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development, peak foliage this year in the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee region falls from around Oct. 5 to Oct. 15. By Oct. 10, the percentage of leaves that have changed colors is about 80 to 100 percent around Hanover.

According to the Valley News, the average traveler in New Hampshire spends $88 per day, spending that supports 68,000 jobs across the state. Some of Hanover’s businesses seem to have noticed the influx of visitors. 

Molly’s restaurant employee Charlie Kimball said that he saw many tour buses coming into Hanover, which contributed to a large part of their business in October. 

“A lot of people from Texas, Missouri and the South come up during lunch hours,” Kimball said.

Molly’s general manager Pat Reed said that he notices a similar pattern every year. He added that October is the busiest month of the year following July and August. 

Other local stores experience heightened activity during this season as well. Indigo manager Mia Vogt said that she saw a significant increase in the number of customers recently.

Vogt added that Indigo experiences heightened customer traffic in October, but she does not attribute this entirely to leaf-peeping. For instance, Dartmouth sports draw visitors to Hanover as well. Still, she said that she meets “a lot of people who are just doing New England [and] come just for the foliage.” 

Other local businesses, however, did not see a significant impact caused by leaf-peeping. 

For example, J. Crew manager Virginia Clerkin described her business as more weather-dependent and driven by activities on campus. 

Clerkin said J. Crew’s busiest time of the year comes around Christmas — and, compared to last year, customer traffic is down both locally and industry-wide.

Hanover Inn director of sales and marketing Rick McCarten said that though October is the busiest month of the year, he does not believe leaf-peeping is the primary cause. 

“Most of our businesses have to do with those college events, like Homecoming,” McCarten said. “We don’t do a lot of tourism — we just don’t have the capacity, as we only have 180 rooms.”

Not only did the peak foliage affect local businesses in Hanover — it also spurred many student activities around campus. 

For instance, Cabin and Trail, a division of the Dartmouth Outing Club, led a two-hour hiking trip named “A GORGE-ous Fall Afternoon” to the Quechee Gorge state park of Vermont last Friday.

“It was this really cool rock formation with river running through it,” CnT trip leader Alexander Wells ’22 said. “Especially in the fall with the foliage, it was absolutely gorgeous.”

According to Wells, this trip was especially popular — 15 people went on the trip and four people were on the waitlist. He added that he also saw a lot of tourists at the park.

“It’s not a super intense hike, which makes it accessible for all sorts of people,” Wells added. 

The Dartmouth Society of Photographers organized a casual foliage photo-walk around campus last week. Club president Kevin Yang ’20 said the key for maximizing the variety of colors in a photo is to go at the right time of the day. 

“A late afternoon or early morning warm glow emphasizes the colors much more than the light during the day,” Yang said.