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Top 10 US College Campuses to View Fall Foliage

Crisp air, stacks of books and colorful trees all signal the start of a fresh school year on college campuses across the United States.

With the vast planning and landscaping that goes into creating an ideal collegiate setting, it's no surprise that some of the best views of fall foliage occur on academic grounds.

"Peaking seasons are determined by elevation and latitude, period," Steve Nix, forestry expert at About.com said. "Southern coastal areas have the latest season while northern and mountainous areas have the early views."

From year to year, color offerings can change based on factors such as rain amounts and temperature variants, Nix said.

Taking a look at schools with an enrollment of 20,000 or more students, we selected campuses that sit in the nation's best areas for fall foliage in this editor's choice list.

Brigham Young University

Nestled in the mountains of Utah, BYU sits in an ideal location for spectacular fall foliage views. With up to 15,000 trees on campus, students are known to stop on their way to class, soak in the views and take photos of our campus with the mountains as a backdrop, Media Relations Manager Todd Hollingshead said.

Iowa State University

With roughly 13,000 trees on campus, according to ISU Facilities Planning and Management, students and faculty in Ames, Iowa, experience spectacular views of fall foliage each year. Campus sits on more than 1,900 acres of land in central Iowa.

Michigan State University

On a campus with more than 2,100 developed acres, MSU is home to more than 21,653 individual trees. Located in East Lansing in central Michigan, leaves usually begin to turn in mid-September and peak from the first to third week of October, Professor of Plant Biology and Curator Frank Telewski said.

"The campus, with its diverse mix of tree species, provides for a wonderful change in colors starting with the early change in brilliant yellow-orange-red leaf color of our sugar and red maples and ashes, culminating about a month later with the dark muted pastel reds of our white oaks," he said.

Northwestern University

Just north of Chicago, Northwestern's campus sits along Lake Michigan and provides stunning views of fall foliage. In fact, it was the presence of strong oak trees that caught the eye of one of Northwestern's founders, Orrington Lunt.

According to Northwestern Magazine, Lunt helped convince the other founders that Evanston should be the university's home after being struck with admiration for the statuesque oaks.

Penn State University

(Photo/Penn State)

With a campus that sits in an area affectionately known as Happy Valley, Penn State is famous for its elm trees that surround some of the most famous spots on campus. The first elm was planted in 1890, according to the Penn State Elms Collection.

A total of 14,000 trees can be found on campus, according to Professor of Forest Ecology and Physiology Marc Abrams.

Purdue University

(Photo/Purdue University)

Nearly 11,000 trees sit on a 3,000 acre-campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, home of the Boilermakers. Autumn's arrival brings a display of fall colors that is such a popular attraction that the university developed several mobile apps and maps which allow visitors to take different customizable walking tours.

University of Colorado

Fall colors typically peak in middle to late October on the 4,000 trees on Colorado University Boulder campus, Arborist Vince Aquino said. Located north of Denver, the university sits at near proximity of the Boulder Creek corridors, home to several thousand more naturalized trees.

University of Illinois

Of the estimated 12,000 trees on University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the most planted trees include oak, red maple, sugar maple, hackberry, sweetgum and sycamore, Media Communications Specialist Steve Breitwieser said.

"The university experiences its most brilliant fall color show during the month of October," he said.

University of Michigan

Located in the "town of trees," University of Michigan is home to more than 16,000 trees across campus in Ann Arbor.

The Office of Landscape Architecture and the Grounds Department have the goal of using predominantly native species and having no more than 10 percent of any one species throughout the Ann Arbor campus, according to the Plant Operations website.

University of Washington

While spring blooms on cherry trees in the quad may be one of the most popular spots for scenery on campus at University of Washington, abundant fall foliage also offers a brilliant view each year.

Just north of downtown Seattle, campus holds more than 10,000 trees, according to grounds crew estimates.