A fall colors arrive, the great outdoors is open for business

Going leaf-peeping? What to expect in New England on your covid-style fall foliage trip

The New England landscape is about to become Mother Nature’s canvas as the changing foliage creates its annual work of art across the region.

This display of robust reds and bright yellows comes at a time when the pandemic has taken a lot of the color out of our daily lives.

Tourism officials want everyone to know the great outdoors is open for business and ready to brighten a fall day.

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“It starts of slow. It almost hits you from nowhere,” said Ashlee Rowley of the Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce in New London, NH.

“You’re going to see every once in a while, a spot of orange, or yellow, and you’re like, oh well, it’s time. The leaves, they are changing.”

That’s a good sign, particularly this year, added Rowley. “It’s been a really challenging summer season in which we usually see quite a bit of tourism. We were probably half, less than of half, of what we normally were.”

The dramatic vistas created by New Hampshire’s foliage are a magnet for tourists from all over. It’s the second busiest season for visitors in the state.

State Tourism director Lori Harnois wants out-of-staters to know New Hampshire’s welcome mat is out, but with some precautions. Visitors from outside New England are required to quarantine for 14 days.

Harnois said although New Hampshire doesn’t have a statewide mask mandate, it’s important to know which communities have adopted local ordinances.

Marcy Vierzen of Artisans in New London reinforced that safety and health concerns are a priority for her at her store which specializes in local crafts and unique gifts.

“People love coming to this area,” added Vierzen. It’s all about the outdoors, to get away from where you are, to get outside and enjoy it. You can go inside and feel secure and safe with what all of the businesses are doing."

There will be some changes. For example, once popular bus tours won’t run as frequently.

Rowley is hoping that a new appreciation for the outdoors will still prompt much-needed crowds to head north. “Hopefully with this new normal, we’re able to take a moment and enjoy the surroundings that we’re in, the beautiful nature that we’re in.”

The Lake Sunapee region usually hits peak colors during the first half of October, according to Rowley.