The return of cooler weather, pumpkin spice, and pops of color means leaf peepers are out in abundance, too, attempting to capture a season of Vermont’s beauty for a lifetime.

“We are so amazed, the color, it’s got to be #1 in the nation,” Z Xiong, of Massachusetts, said.

Vermont’s reputation for vibrant fall foliage drew the Xiong family to the state for the very first time. They’re visiting from Kentucky and Massachusetts.

“We’ve seen the foliage in different parts of the country, including Kentucky,” Larry Xiong said. “The trees look really different, it’s brighter in terms of the red colors.”

Although Tuesday, the best peeks of vibrancy didn’t come from the peak of Mount Mansfield. Grey was about the only visible color from the mountain top.

“This is our last day here,” Isha, an Ohio resident said. “So we thought we might as well take a chance and come up and see.”

“I think that next level of vibrancy, that intensity of color is still yet to come,” Michael Snyder, Commissioner of Vt forests, parks, & recreation said.

Snyder is also the region’s self-acclaimed ‘leaf chief’. He forecasts Vermont’s foliage season year to year.

“Particularly in the northeast, higher elevations are at or very near peak,” Snyder said. “But much of the state is still gradually developing in this really delicious slow progression.”

Snyder says a patch of cold nights is perfect for punching up the color. He says maple leaf cutters and LDD moths, previously known as gypsy moths, do contribute some stress, but overall, Vermont has the highest proportion of maple trees, making the state a show stopper for foliage.

“With the topography of river valleys and farms, compact village settlements, our wonderful mountain ranges,” he said. “With a mix of species, different soils, classic fall weather, that’s why ours is the best.”