Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Alright, leaf-peepers, ready for a road trip!? Autumn cemetery color tours are one of the best ways to enjoy the season’s brilliant leaves. This blog post is a great way to discover some US cemeteries you can enjoy as you take gravestone photos.
Fall is a great time to take your smartphone with the BillionGraves app on the road. The leaves are changing to breathtaking reds and golds and the weather is cooler.
Combine your love of beautiful fall foliage with taking photos in cemeteries and it will be an autumn to remember!
What is BillionGraves?
If you would like to a make difference in the world, share data that has never yet been published, and help families connect, then download the BillionGraves app to your smartphone.
The BillionGraves app allows you to quickly and easily take photos of gravestones as you stroll through beautiful tree-lined cemeteries decked out in fall foliage. In just a short visit you can take hundreds of photos.
As you take photographs, they are automatically linked with GPS location pins enabling families around the globe to find their ancestor’s graves for family history and to honor their loved ones.
After your photos are uploaded, you can either transcribe them yourself or choose to have someone else transcribe the names and dates from the gravestones.
Connecticut: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Yellow, orange, and red Peak time: Fall foliage season begins in mid- to late September and extends through early November. Foliage hotline: 888-CTvisit
Interesting Facts from Connecticut Cemeteries
- The famous circus showman, P.T. Barnum, has his final resting place in Bridgeport, Connecticut. A few weeks after his burial, three men were were caught digging at his gravesite in the dark of the night. They were attempting to steal P.T. Barnum’s body to hold it for ransom but were scared off by a nightwatchman. Click HERE to learn more about grave robbers and another famous person whose body was also nearly stolen for ransom.
- Many Puritans were buried with winged skulls on their gravestones in Connecticut. Learn why by clicking HERE to read BillionGraves’ blog post, Winged Skull Gravestone Symbols.
Cemeteries to Visit in Connecticut
Delaware: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Red and gold Peak time: The color and intensity change quickly, but your best bet to see peak colors is from mid-October to early November. Foliage hotline: 800-441-8846
Interesting Facts from Delaware Cemeteries
- In 1776, Caesar Rodney was serving in the Continental Congress and had returned to his home near Dover, Delaware to rest since he was suffering from cancer of the jaw. But when Rodney received a message that a vote for indpendence was going to be conducted, he rode 80 miles – all through the night – to Philadelphia. Arriving just in time to cast his vote, he broke a tie in the Delaware delegation. One delegate had favored independence and the other had favored British loyalty. Rodney’s vote put Delaware firmly on the side of independence, two votes to one. There is a cenotaph in his honor on the grounds of the Christ Episcopal Church in Dover.
- The historic Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery, founded in 1864, is the final resting place of boys and girls who spent their short lives at the Home for Friendless and Destitute Children. The tragic little markers share the 25-acre burial ground with the grand monuments erected for signers of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. senators, war heroes, governors, lawyers, and judges.
Cemeteries to Visit in Delaware
Georgia: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Orange, red, yellow, and gold Peak time: Early to mid-November is the best time to see fall foliage in Georgia. Foliage hotline: 800-864-7275
Interesting Facts from Georgia Cemeteries
- Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, died at age 66 and was buried in her Girl Scout uniform at Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. Low was known for her ideals and some her famous quotes include: “Right is right, even if no one else does it.”; “To be inspired is great, but to be an inspiration is an honor.”; and “The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.”
- Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind, is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia. Click HERE to learn why Gone With the Wind’s main character, Scarlett O’Hara, created such a stir when she danced in her mourning clothes.
Cemeteries to Visit in Georgia
Illinois: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Yellow and red Peak time: In northern and central Illinois, peak viewing time is mid-October. Southern Illinois peaks from late October to early November. Foliage hotline: 800-2CONNECT
Interesting Facts from Illinois Cemeteries
- In 1876, US president Abraham Lincoln’s body lay within an aboveground white marble sarcophagus in a stately tomb on the grounds of Springfield, Illinois’ Oak Ridge Cemetery when a gang of Chicago counterfeiters tried to steal his remains for ransom. Learn more about this unusual event by clicking HERE.
- Author Shel Silverstein, native of Chicago, wrote the well-known children’s books “The Giving Tree” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and lots of silly poems like this one:
SNOWBALL (Falling Up)
I made myself a snowball
As perfect as could be.
I thought I’d keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first—it wet the bed.
Cemeteries to Visit in Illinois
Indiana: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Gold, orange, and red Peak time: Northern Indiana reaches peak color in early to mid-October, whereas the southern part of the state peaks in mid- to late October. Foliage hotline: 800-289-6646
Interesting Facts from Indiana Cemeteries
- John Chapman – AKA Johnny Appleseed – became an American legend during his own lifetime due to his kind and generous nature. He planted apple trees throughout Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Ontario. We sometimes picture him as randomly dropping seeds here and there but in reality, he planted the trees in nurseries, fenced them in to protect them from cattle, and left them in the care of a neighbor before moving on. Then he returned to each orchard every year or two to tend the apple trees. Johnny Appleseed is buried in a memorial park near Fort Wayne, Indiana. The gravesite is covered with little green apples from the surrounding trees. How fitting!
Cemeteries to Visit in Indiana
Iowa: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Yellow and red Peak time: Peak fall color occurs in northeast Iowa on the weekend closest to October 10, on average. Peak fall color occurs later in the more southern parts of the state. Foliage hotline: 515-233-4110
Interesting Facts from Iowa Cemeteries
- Rock and Roll musician of the 1950’s Buddy Holly, had just performed at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, when his plane crashed in a nearby cornfield. Don McLean wrote “The Day the Music Died” about that incident and there is now a memorial in the field. Holly was known for his songs “Peggy Sue,” and “That’ll Be The Day.”
“American Gothic” painting by Grant Wood
- Artist Grant Wood is buried in Anamosa, Iowa. During World War I, he was a camouflage artist. He is best known for his painting of a mid-west farming couple titled, American Gothic.
Cemeteries to Visit in Iowa
Kansas: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Red and orange Peak time: Northern Kansas colors peak from early to mid-October. southern Kansas peaks mid- to late October. Foliage hotline: 913-296-2009
Interesting Facts from Kansas Cemeteries
- The state of Kansas didn’t begin collecting death records until 1911 but many of Kansas’ cemeteries date back to the mid-1800s so they are invaluable for genealogists.
- The first pony express rider, James W. Brink, is buried in Kansas. Being a pony express rider was no easy feat. Each rider was expected to average 75 miles per trip, riding from three to seven horses, and carrying a saddlebag of mail at the greatest possible speed.
Cemeteries to Visit in Kansas
Kentucky: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Yellow, orange, and red Peak time: Peak fall color for the state occurs from late October to early November. Foliage hotline: 800-225-8747
Interesting Facts from Kentucky Cemeteries
- American frontiersmen Daniel Boone is buried in Frankfort Cemetery on a high bluff overlooking Kentucky’s capital city. Boone became a legend in his own lifetime by making adventurous trips into the wild west. By the end of the 18th century, more than 200,000 people entered Kentucky on the route marked by Daniel Boone.
Cemeteries to Visit in Kentucky
Maine: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Red, purple, and yellow Peak time: Southern Maine and coastal areas typically reach peak colors in mid-October whereas western mountain areas peak earlier in the month. Foliage hotline: 888-MAINE-45
Interesting Facts from Maine Cemeteries
- Leon Leonwood Bean was an entrepreneur who founded the company L. L. Bean, a sportsman’s store specializing in clothing and outdoor gear. Bean was orphaned at age 12, killed his first deer at age 13, and sold another deer that he shot to two unsuccessful hunters when he was 14. Bean formulated the idea for his first product – rubber-soled boots – when his own boots became soaked with water while hunting and fishing. Bean is buried at Webster Cemetery in Freeport, Maine.
Cemeteries to Visit in Maine
Maryland: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Yellow and red Peak time: In southern and central Maryland, peak colors are on display in late October and early November. If you can only visit during early October, visit parks around Garrett County. Foliage hotline: 800-LEAVES-1
Interesting Facts from Maryland Cemeteries
If you think the writings of Edgar Allan Poe are strange, you should hear about his gravestone mishaps! The author was originally buried in an unmarked grave when he died in 1849.
Then, when the grave had nearly disappeared into the weeds, the cemetery caretaker had a sandstone marker placed on it- not with the famous writer’s name but just with the inexplicable number 80 inscribed.
As rumors of the neglected grave began to circulate in Baltimore newspapers, Edgar’s cousin ordered a proper marble headstone. However, while the monument was under construction, a nearby train ran off the tracks and crashed into the headstone, destroying it. Lacking the funds, Edgar’s cousin did not order another.
Years later, in 1874, community donations were gathered and a proper headstone was ordered. However, this time the engraved date was off by a day and it was too large to fit on the original burial site. Sigh.
Cemeteries to Visit in Maryland
Massachusetts: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Orange, yellow, and green Peak time: During the first week of October, plan a visit to the western and southeastern regions for foliage. Peak foliage occurs mid-October for the central area and eastern regions. Foliage hotline: 800-227-MASS
Interesting Facts from Massachusetts Cemeteries
- The final resting place of Paul Revere, who rode his horse through Boston in Massachusetts colony in the still of the night to warn the settlers that the British were coming, is buried in the Granary Burial Ground. His brave act influenced the outcome of the Revolutionary War.
- Mayflower pilgrims are buried on a hill above Plymouth Rock. In his last will and testament, their governor, William Bradford, wrote, “Though I bequeath you no estate, I leave you in the enjoyment of liberty.” Click HERE to read more about the Pilgrim’s story.
Cemeteries to Visit in Massachusetts
Michigan: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Red and orange Peak time: The far western quarter of the Michigan upper peninsula peaks from mid-September to early October, whereas all other areas in the upper peninsula peak from late September to mid-October. The expected peak color for the lower peninsula is from late September to late October.
Interesting Facts from Michigan Cemeteries
You may be familiar with the 1976 ballad, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot. It tells the tale of the ship SS Edmund Fitzgerald which was lost with her entire crew of 29 men on Lake Superior, 17 miles from Whitefish Point, Michigan. The waters near Whitefish Point are known as the “Graveyard of Ships.” Hundreds of vessels lie at the bottom of the bay.
The lighthouse on the point had been shining for nearly 150 years but it failed on the night of the Edmund Fitzgerald disaster. The Fitzgerald, which was already crippled by a damaged radar system, was left to fend for itself in the storm of the century.
The ship’s bell was recovered by divers. Today there is a cenotaph near the shore and each year on the anniversary of the wreck the bell is rung 30 times – 29 times for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald – and one more time for all the other mariners who died in the storms of Lake Superior.
Cemeteries to Visit in Michigan
Minnesota: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Red and orange Peak time: On average, fall foliage peak times in the northern third of the state occur mid-September to early October. The central third of the state is most colorful between late September and early October. Southern Minnesota trees reach their peak late September to mid-October. One exception is the North Shore of Lake Superior where peak fall color arrives roughly one week later than inland areas. Foliage hotline: 800-657-3700
Interesting Facts from Minnesota Cemeteries
Richard G. Drew, the inventor of both Scotch tape and masking tape, is buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. When Drew joined 3M in 1921, the company’s main product was sandpaper. Drew took some of their new sandpaper to be tested at an autobody shop.
While there, he became fascinated with the difficult task of maintaining a crisp border when painting the two-toned cars that were popular at the time.
In response, Drew developed some tape that the painters could use that had adhesive on the edges but not in the middle. During the initial test, the tape fell off and the agitated painter snapped at Drew, “Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!” (He was using the word “Scotch” to mean “cheap”. — No offense intended on our part! — ) The nickname stuck and so today we have “Scotch tape”!
Cemeteries to Visit in Minnesota
Missouri: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Orange, yellow, red, and purple Peak time: Colors start to change in late September and peak in mid-October. Fall colors begin in the northern part of the state and move south to the Ozark Mountains. Foliage hotline: 573-751-4115
Interesting Facts from Missouri Cemeteries
- Reporter Walter Cronkite was the voice that brought the news of WWI bombings, the Nuremberg trials, the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon to viewers across the world. He passed away at age 92 and is buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.
Cemeteries to Visit in Missouri
New Hampshire: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Yellow and red Peak time: Generally, the best times to view the fall colors are near the end of September in the far north, the beginning of October in the White Mountain region, and the middle of October in the south. Foliage hotline: 800-262-6660 or 800-258-3608
Interesting Facts from New Hampshire Cemeteries
- Christa McAuliffe, astronaut and school teacher, died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. McAuliffe was selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in as the first teacher to be sent into outer space. Tragically, the shuttle broke apart 1 minute 13 seconds after launch. There is a monument in her honor at Concord, New Hampshire.
- McDonald’s fast food chain feeds about 1 percent of the world’s population every day – sixty-eight million people! But the final resting place of its founder, Richard McDonald is a humble niche in Mount Calvary Mausoleum in Manchester, New Hampshire. Richard and his brother came up with the idea of using a speedy system to prepare food quickly. But then they sold their franchaise before it became a huge financial success.
Cemeteries to Visit in New Hampshire
New Jersey: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Yellow and red Peak time: Fall foliage peak viewing for inland New Jersey is mid- to late October. Late October to early November is the best time for foliage in coastal areas of the state. Foliage hotline: 800-VISIT-NJ
Interesting Facts from New Jersey Cemeteries
- Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, is buried in New Jersey. In response to a question about his missteps as he worked, Edison said, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This was the additude that exemplified his tenacity and set him on the path to be one of the most successful innovators in history.
Cemeteries to Visit in New Jersey
New York: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Red, orange, and yellow Peak time: New York is known for great foliage so plan your trip sometime between the last few days of September through the month of October. The Adirondacks and Catskills provide the most opportunities for viewing vibrant fall colors.
Interesting Facts from New York Cemeteries
- Woodlawn Cemetery in New York City is the only cemetery with a monument in memory of those who died aboard the Titanic.
- Alexander Hamilton is buried in New York City’s Trinity Cemetery. Hamilton was orphaned as a child in the Carribean and later immigrated to the United States. Through hard work and study, he became a lawyer, congressman, founding father of the Republic, Secretary of the Treasury in George Washington’s first cabinet, and founder of the Bank of New York. He was also instrumental bringing an end to slavery. The Broadway play about Hamilton has been called on the most significant plays of the decade.
Cemeteries to Visit in New York
North Carolina: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Red and orange Peak time: Inland areas of the state can expect fall foliage peak time around mid- to late October. The coastal regions of North Carolina typically hit their peak from late October to early November. Foliage hotline: 800-VISIT-NC : Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Interesting Facts from North Carolina Cemeteries
- New Bern, North Carolina is known as the “Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola”. In 1898, pharmacy owner Caleb Bradham experimented with a concoction of vanilla, kola nut extract, and other “secret ingredients”. He first called it “Brad’s Drink”. By 1905, the soda was being sold in grocery stores. Bradham had to declare bankruptcy after buying a large quantity of sugar just before a huge the price drop. He sold the company and went back to working in his pharmacy. Bradham died in 1934, and is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery.
Cemeteries to Visit in North Carolina
Ohio: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Yellow and orange Peak time: Most trees peak during the second and third week of October. Late in the month tends to be an ideal time to visit the southernmost areas of the state. Foliage hotline: 800-BUCKEYE
Interesting Facts from Ohio Cemeteries
The Wright brothers – Orville and Wilbur – are credited with inventing, building, and flying the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane. The pair are buried in a family plot with their parents and five siblings in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.
NASA named the first take-off and landing area used by a small robotic helicopter in a 2020 Mars space mission “The Wright Brother’s Field”. And a small piece of fabric from the Wright brother’s 1903 flyer was attached to the underside of the helicopter as a tribute to Orville and Wilbur.
Cemeteries to Visit in Ohio
Pennsylvania: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Red, orange, and yellow Peak time: Peak color is during early October for the northern region of the state. The central region typically reaches full color in mid-October. For southeastern Pennsylvania, peak color occurs during the last two weeks of October.
Interesting Facts from Pennsylvania Cemeteries
- About 100,000 tourists per year stop by Benjamin Franklin’s grave at Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia. So many of the tourists tossed a penny onto his marble gravestone for good luck that it became pitted and cracked. Donations were collected in 2017 for a replacement stone to honor this writer, scientist, inventor, printer, statesman, diplomat, publisher, and Founding Father of America.
Cemeteries to Visit in Pennsylvania
Rhode Island: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Red and orange Peak time: Peak viewing for Rhode Island is mid- to late October. Foliage hotline: 800-556-2484
Interesting Facts from Rhode Island Cemeteries
- The Common Burial Ground in Newport has the largest number of colonial era headstones in a single cemetery, including the largest number of colonial African American headstones in the United States.
Cemeteries to Visit in Rhode Island
Tennessee: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Red and yellow Peak time: Typically the northeastern mountain regions see their peak during the last two weeks of October. Across the state, colors peak from mid-October to late November. Foliage hotline: 800-697-4200
Interesting Facts from Tennessee Cemeteries
- Rock-‘n’-Roll legend Elvis Presley actually had two graves. He was first buried in a mausoleum in Forest Hills Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. But when fans kept tampering with his grave, his remains were moved to a quieter resting place in a more remote location at Graceland. Although Presley died more than three decades ago, 600,000 people still visit Graceland each year.
Cemeteries to Visit in Tennessee
Vermont: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Orange, purple, and red Peak time: Northern Vermont reaches its peak between the last week of September and early October. Early to mid-October is peak time for southern Vermont. Vermont is well-known for stunning foliage, and state parks are a great resource. Be sure to check Vermont's foliage reports before planning your trip. Foliage hotline: 800-VERMONT or 800-828-3239
Interesting Facts from Vermont Cemeteries
- Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont has been dubbed “Granite Capital of the World”. Its 65 acres are covered with artistic sculptures that are a tribute to the stone cutters and artisans interred there that created the monuments when they were alive – both for others and for themselves.
Cemeteries to Visit in Vermont
West Virginia: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Orange, yellow, and red Peak time: The state reaches peak color from late September to late October. Foliage hotline: 800-CALL-WVA
Interesting Facts from West Virginia Cemeteries
- John Denver surely got it right when he coined the lyrics ‘Almost Heaven, West Virginia.’ Early West Virginia settlers tried to follow the customs of their British ancestors by burying their loved ones in graveyards next to churches – which to them were the holiest places they could find on earth. But West Virginia is rugged mountain country and as more land was settled, it became impractical for many people to be buried in a town near a church. So they made do by burying their loved ones where they could, often in a nearby hilltop or mountainside. Thus, there are hundreds of small cemeteries high up in the air, in “almost heaven, West Virginia”.
Cemeteries to Visit in West Virginia
Wisconsin: Autumn Cemetery Color Tours
Dominant colors: Orange, yellow, and red Peak time: The state reaches peak color from late September to late October. Foliage hotline: 800-CALL-WVA
Interesting Facts from Wisconsin Cemeteries
- During the Victorian era, “garden cemeteries” became popular destinations for picnics. Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison, Wisconisn is typical of a garden cemetery. Learn more about Victorian era cemetery traditions by clicking HERE.
Cemeteries to Visit in Wisconsin
Let’s Hit the Road!
Photographing gravestones in some of America’s most amazing cemeteries with the BillionGraves app is an awesome experience. Touring in early autumn will ensure that the leaves are still on the trees instead of covering the gravestones!
So take a road trip with the best of both worlds – gorgeous fall colors and genealogical records for families around the globe! Fall foliage cemetery photo trips may become one of your annual autumn traditions!
Happy Cemetery Hopping!
Cathy Wallace and The BillionGraves Team