(NECN: Marnie Maclean, Freeport, ME) - They come by plane, car and tour bus to travel New England in search of brightly colored fall leaves.
Columbus Day weekend is a favorite time for leaf peepers, but this year many are asking 'where's the color?’
Every room at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, Maine is booked this Columbus Day weekend.
It is filled with leaf peepers excited to see the fabled New England fall foliage.
"There's hardly any leaves on the trees,” said Ruby McDermott, “almost bare."
But the Inn's gardener says mother nature is leaving many of those guests disappointed. Many maple trees are dropping leaves before turning color and the perennials that normally pop with color are muted.
"You can see color a lot better from those normally."
Many people have noticed this year doesn't look normal.
This is the view from the top of Bradbury Mountain in Pownal this weekend last year, and this is the same view, today; there’s a noticeable difference.
"This is supposed to be your peak color, and we come here,” said Dee Wardzinski from Romeo, Michigan, “and we have more color at home."
The good news for businesses, at least here in Freeport, is leaf peepers plan well in advance, coming to New England color or no color.
"It's all relative, when it's brown or green where you came from anything else is color, not disappointed, not in the least,” said Lou Dinwiddie from Sacramento, California. “I'll let the locals be disappointed."
Biologist Mao Lin with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife studies cycles in nature and believes much of the blame for the delayed and dull foliage season falls on all the rain we've had.
"We had a lot of water, a lot of moisture that might impact color,” said Lin. “A stressed tree just like a stressed person is not going to be pretty."
Lin says there is also scientific debate as to whether climate change may be impacting fall foliage patterns.
He isn't counting out this season yet though. He says if we can get sunny days and cool nights, without a frost, the trees will get the signal to prepare for winter and hopefully give us a burst of color before the leaves fall away.