New England Making Millions From Leaf Peepers

JAFFREY, N.H. (AP) -
A camper drives through Crawford Notch in Carroll, N.H., as foliage reaches peak in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
A camper drives through Crawford Notch in Carroll, N.H., as foliage reaches peak in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

On Mount Monadnock, hikers file up the 3,165-foot peak in lockstep, protected from drizzling rain by a luminous golden canopy of leaves. They’re not just gazing at foliage — they’re looking at cold, hard cash.

Money really does grow on trees in autumn in New England, and all six states are raking it in. Officials say tourists will spend upward of $3 billion to catch a glimpse of the red, yellow and orange hues — and the windfall is steadily rising as the economy regains strength.

Every year, the radiance of fall draws nature-lovers to Monadnock State Park — and countless other mountains, hills, scenic look-outs and shady country lanes — by the droves.

“We wanted to get out in the fresh air and see the colors while it’s still warm,” said Christopher LeBeau, who drove from Connecticut to hike Mount Monadnock. “This is full peak here, and it’s amazing.”

Lingering warm weather is causing leaves to stay on the trees longer in New England. Some experts say 2014 could be an outstanding year for foliage, aesthetically and financially.