Arizona picks a foliage fight with Vermont

After claiming its fall colors are better, it finds out how seriously the Green Mountain State takes its lucrative leaf-peeping.

By Aimee Picchi Aug 28, 2013 12:44PM

Autumn in Vermont (© Getty Images)When tourists think about a trip to Arizona, they're likely pulled by the beauty of the Grand Canyon. Now the state's tourism magazine is aiming to add a new check box: the desert state's fall foliage. 

That's not sitting well with Vermont. 

It all started with Arizona's state magazine touting the state's autumn beauty. The October cover adds the dig "Why it's better here than it is in Vermont."

For Vermont, Arizona's swagger comes down to more than words. After all, the tiny New England state depends on tourism, with leaf-peepers spending about $460 million during the fall season (pictured), according to a 2011 study commissioned by Vermont.

In response, Vermont Life magazine prepared its own mock-up magazine cover. Its boast? That Quechee Gorge -- a picturesque spot where the Ottauquechee River falls 165 feet -- is "grander than the Grand Canyon." The magazine, run by the state's tourism office, notes that the cover was done in "some fun." 

Nevertheless, not everyone is taking Arizona's boast so lightly.

"Don't make us laugh," Phineas Swann B&B, a luxury inn near Vermont's Jay Peak ski resort, wrote on Twitter. Another Vermonter wrote: "You can't steal our fall foliage thunder, #AZ."

The challenge comes just as the leaves are starting to turn in Vermont, with peak season typically hitting by early or mid-October. By that point, cars are bumper to bumper along Route 100, a picturesque road through the Green Mountains that's also the location for Unilever's (UL) Ben & Jerry's. 

As a Vermont resident, I can attest to the beauty of the state's autumn colors -- and the crowds that follow. But in its blog, Arizona Highways sought to back off its claim, writing that its October cover meant to make a point about the length of their respective fall seasons.

"We're blessed in Arizona with an autumn that runs from early September on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to early December in the southern parts of our state," the magazine noted. 

That may be true, given that Vermont's drab browns come November, but Arizona is finding that messing with the Green Mountain state's fall foliage crown is serious business. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Aug 28, 2013 1:53PM
You want REAL fall foliage, visit the Adirondacks Park, (of which the Adirondack Mountains are the center,) in the TRUE New York State.  Six million acres of fall "leaf peeping" with all sorts of rural communities and back roads, along with plenty of roadside garden stands, and other rural attractions, caves, gorges, small mining activities, river rafting, tubing, world class fishing, and general relaxation.  There are also historic sites aplenty.  Enjoy yourself, with your entire family.
Aug 28, 2013 3:23PM
I live in AZ but lived in VT for several years, and I am from Upstate NY. AZ has a unique geography with the desert and pine country... That being said, no contest... for fall leaf-peeping, VT hands down..
Aug 28, 2013 4:07PM
Next thing you know Arizona will claim their maple syrup is better than Vermont's.
Aug 28, 2013 2:10PM
I may live in Ct. but I was born in Vermont. Go VT! Both states have overwhelming beauty and have a lot to be proud of.
Aug 28, 2013 2:35PM
Wisconsin also has some beautiful fall foliage!!
Aug 28, 2013 2:09PM

Northern Michigan !.......the BEST !.....

Aug 28, 2013 2:20PM
Isn't the fall season big enough for both states, plus Michigan if it wants to join the fray?  Can't we all just get along?
Aug 28, 2013 3:11PM
I  live in Michigan and do not need to go to any other state to see fall colors.
Aug 28, 2013 2:36PM
Born and grew up in NJ, lived for a while in NY.  For the past eight years I have called VT my home.  While NJ and NY both have had impressive foliage seasons, nothing beats VT for sheer beauty.  But for the record, I am planning a trip out west for late Sept and early Oct, during which I will be traveling through AZ.  Give you my views on their foliage when I get back . . .    
Aug 28, 2013 4:26PM
I'd have to say Michigan too.  The abandoned buildings really set off the leaves when they're on fire.
Aug 28, 2013 6:07PM
Ah yes, fall in AZ, when temps dip into the low 100's.  Watching the golf courses go brown as they change from bermuda to rye is no comparison to Vermont's hardwood forests.  I've lived in AZ for over 25 years, and I've spent a lot of time in the high country as well as the deserts in fall, and as far as I can tell, the only trees changing color are the oaks, quakies and the occasional walnut or cottonwood.  Every now and then it gets cold enough that all the leaves fall off of the mesquite trees, but it's hardly a beautiful sight.  It's more like someone yanking a toupee off of someone's head than a cascade of color.
Aug 28, 2013 4:46PM
North Carolina mountains to Maine, BEST OF ALL.
Aug 28, 2013 2:28PM
NH has it all.  Mountains,  leaves,  scenic overlooks,  Ocean beaches and parks.   AND maple syrup.  Do not be fooled by the Vermonters saying they have it all.   NH does.
Aug 28, 2013 2:12PM
I never understood the attraction of red and yellow leaves, but Arizona Highways is right.  Our fall lasts a long time.  But our cactus spines don't change color, the leaves of our Palo Verde are so small you can't ell they have changed color or not, our mesquite and ironwood are pretty much the same.  Our Aspens are pretty, but that season is as short as Vermont's.  I don't see the point in all this.  We don't have a pissing contest going with Vermont about foliage unless I missed something in Arizona Highways. 
Aug 28, 2013 4:00PM
All in all they are both very beautiful in very different ways. Now let's get down to some serious smash mouth. Miley Syrus grow up. Act your age and not your IQ! Ops they are both the same number! Billy Ray, you must be one proud Papa of this two-bite skank.
Aug 28, 2013 4:53PM

"The challenge comes just as the leaves are starting to turn in Vermont, with peak season typically hitting by early or mid-October. By that point, cars are bumper to bumper along Route 100, a picturesque road through the Green Mountains..."


I wonder how much the pollution from all these cars is killing the countryside.  But, the Vermonters don't care because they just want the tourist dollars.  Maybe Ben and Jerry's should come up with a new ice cream flavor called "Gas Pipe."  Hypocrite libbies.

Aug 28, 2013 5:56PM
Arizona could kick the   -  S**T  -   out of Vermont! - to bad New Hamshires Old Man on the Mountain is no more....  He retired to TUCSON.
Aug 28, 2013 3:34PM
If time was going backwards could you tell the difference between spring and fall?
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