MDC forester says Missouri Ozarks fall color is finally on the move

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ROLLA, Mo. – Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Forester Gary Gognat says autumn color in the Missouri Ozarks is finally on the move this week.

“The color is highly affected by the shorter days and cooler nighttime temperatures,” he said. “The Ozark hillsides are now overflowing with almost every color imaginable.”

And surprisingly, Gognat said, “there are even colors in that spectrum that humans cannot see.”

“Nature's palette of green and dark green forest and woodland hillsides are hinting at the approach of a majestic fall color kaleidoscope,” he said. “A casual observer will notice an understated lightening of the primary green color with just a hint of yellow showing in some species.”

Leaves are beginning to show a brown hue, especially elm and some hickories, he said, and American sycamore and maple started to show a shade of yellow, while black walnut is showing it in specific leaves. Gognat said dogwoods, blackgum, and sumacs all have a brilliant hue beginning to show.  

As for the fall color, Gognat said upcoming near freezing temperatures will help with the transformation.

Nature’s transformation can be viewed at several conservation areas across the region including Wilber Allen Memorial Conservation Area on the Gasconade River, Austin Lake, Baptist Camp Access on the Big Piney River, Boiling Spring Access on the Big Piney River, Little Prairie Conservation Area, and Maramec Spring Fish Hatchery. 

“Taken together, and with the recent cool nighttime temperatures and a little rainfall, this week should be peak viewing times,” Gognat said. “The colors now being expressed are stunning and beautiful. Now is one of the best times to get outdoors and experience this special time of year.”

Discover nearby conservation areas here. Find updates on fall color changes throughout Missouri with regional suggestions on where to view autumn color here.