Quebec is considered one of the best leaf-peeping destinations in the world. Fall comes early in Canada, with leaves starting to change in the northernmost deciduous forests in early September and spreading down to the American border by the end of the month. By the time October rolls around, a rainbow of reds, oranges, golds, and yellows has already taken over the province, making it an ideal destination for folks who want to get an early start on seeing America's fall foliage this year.
The only hiccup with planning your travel around the season is that fall happens slightly earlier in Canada than it does in the northern United States and is fairly short-lived. Unless you get the timing of your trip to Quebec just right, you could miss out on the gorgeous array of colors, even if you're travel itinerary is off by just a week.
Fall Foliage Season in Quebec
The process of leaves changing color and falling from their branches each year is dependent on the interplay of shorter days and decreasing temperatures, which signals the leaves to stop producing chlorophyll, the molecule responsible for their green color.
Since the weather in Quebec can be rather temperamental, especially this time of year, it's hard to predict exactly when the leaves start to change color and when they'll begin to brown and fall. Fortunately, local botanists and nature enthusiasts track and report the fall foliage levels across the region each year. You can typically access foliage maps of Quebec on weather service and tourism websites like QuebecOriginal.
The Greater Montreal Area tends to peak the latest, with the leaf-peeping season reaching its colored apex in the city around early and mid-October. On the other hand, colors in northern and eastern regions like the Laurentians and the Eastern Townships have usually peaked around mid to late September.
Best Foliage Drives and Destinations in Montreal
Montreal is of the most popular places in Quebec for tourism—and to see the fall foliage. Although it is the biggest city in the region, there are lots of green spaces to take in the changing colors.
Mount Royal Park will be the busiest destination for catching a glimpse of the autumnal colors in the city against the hilltop skyline views. If you're looking to escape the crowds, you can walk next door to Mount Royal Cemetery, which is ablaze in golden leaves. The Morgan Arboretum, Montreal Botanical Garden, and Bois-de-Liesse Park are other favorite leaf-peeping spots.
If you want to go for a drive instead, you can head just outside the city center to Bois de l'Ile Bizard on the northwestern island borough called Ile Bizard. The long boardwalks and wooded trails lend a beautiful eeriness to the marsh grounds.
Fall Events and Attractions in Montreal
Heading to the province of Quebec for some leaf peeping naturally leads to its biggest metropolis, Montreal, a vibrant multicultural French-speaking city. Each fall, Montreal attracts visitors around the world with not only idyllic fall foliage but an incredible food scene, bustling nightlife, many rejuvenating spas and resorts, and a wide assortment of festivals:
- Gardens of Light: Chinese lantern festival and Japanese garden light show held every fall at the Montreal Botanical Garden.
- Montreal Zombie Walk: What started as a flash mob in 2008 has since become a highlight of Halloween in Montreal. Now, more than 10,000 undead citizens roam the streets with apocalyptic abandon for one night each year.
- Jean-Talon Market: An annual fall market in Montreal where guests can sample goods from local vendors including produce from the year's harvest and crafts made by Canadian artists.