Highlighted by an extended period of sunshine forecast through the Columbus Weekend, comfortable temperatures and brightening foliage are anticipated as Vermont’s color progression moves southward and into the lower elevations. The first widespread frost of the season on Thursday morning is expected to accelerate the color change into the mountain valleys where a predominant green has lingered longer than usual this year. ‘All the gap roads are near peak or at least at mid-stage. Beautiful! The views of the Green Mountains from these roads are world class in any season, but especially incredible with the hardwoods pastels contrasted against the softwoods rugged green,’ says Addison County Forester Chris Olson. In northern Vermont the mountainsides are at peak as the mountain valleys come into full color from Newport across the Greens to Enosburg Falls and south to where east-west U.S. Route 2 crosses the state. The lower elevations right along Lake Champlain remain in early to mid-stage color change. All of the higher elevations across the central, middle third of Vermont will be at near-peak to peak conditions through the weekend. The foot hills west of the Green Mountains, near Middlebury, Brandon and Rutland, are showing mid-stage to near-peak color, depending on elevation. In southern Vermont the higher elevations from Ludow to the Mount Snow region along Route 100 will display mid-stage to near peak conditions through the weekend. Lower elevations along the Connecticut River Valley to the east and the area from Bennington to Manchester on the west side of the state will be showing a variety of early to mid-stage color. Motorists are reminded that while travel is normal on most state roads a few closures and several work zones remain; please drive with caution and consideration. For current road conditions and detailed planning information, please check our frequently updated map: http://www.vermontvacation.com/vtopenforbusiness.htm(link is external) Best Bets: In northern Vermont, recommended scenic routes for peak color viewing include Route 114 between Lyndonville and Norton, Route 58 from Irasburg to Montgomery Center, Route 105 from North Troy to East Charleston, and Route 102 along the Connecticut River. In central Vermont, Route 302 east from Barre, Route 215 in Cabot, and Route 15 between Walden and Cambridge are suggested. Also, try back roads in Burke, Peacham, Barnet and Danville, which offer a variety of close-up and long-range views. Bright foliage can be found along Route 232 along Groton State Forest, Route 2 west of Waterbury, Route 100 between Warren and Moretown, and Route 17 between Waitsfield and Starksboro. On the western side of central Vermont, Route 22A from Fair Haven to Shoreham, Route 73 from Rochester to Brandon, Route 140 from East Wallingford to Middletown Springs, Route 53 around Lake Dunmore, Route 30 from Castleton Corners to Whiting, and Route 7 between Danby and Rutland are showing good color. In southern Vermont, suggested drives include Route 7A from Manchester to Bennington, Routes 153 and 315 near Rupert, Route 5 along the Connecticut River, Route 5 between Brattleboro and Wilmington, Route 11 from Springfield to Londonderry, and Route 30 from Brattleboro to Newfane.The Vermont Hospitality Council advises making advance reservations because the most popular lodgings may fill early on busy weekends during the foliage season. Some innkeepers may require a minimum two-night stay, especially on busy weekends. Vermont tourism officials encourage visitors to take advantage of midweek specials during the foliage season as part of the statewide ‘Midweek Peek’ promotion. Deals range from discounted lodging to free Vermont products. For details, visit www.VermontVacation.com/midweek(link is external). Also available on the website are several tools for planning a Vermont Fall Foliage tour: Fall Foliage ForecasterLodging Availability ForecasterScenic DrivesFall Travel Tips For more information, visit www.VermontVacation.com(link is external).