Fall Color

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Fall Color
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Fall Color
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Predicting the peak of fall color can be difficult. Missouri is blessed with a great variety of trees, shrubs, and vines. Their leaves turn at different times, so Missourians enjoy a fall color season that may last four to six weeks. Sassafras, sumac, and Virginia creeper are some of the earliest to change, beginning in mid-September. By late September, black gum, bittersweet, and dogwood are turning.

The peak of fall color in Missouri is usually around mid-October. This is when maples, ashes, oaks, and hickories are at the height of their fall display. Normally by late October, the colors are fading and the leaves beginning to drop from the trees. Fall color is usually finished by the middle of November.

The progression of color change starts earliest in north Missouri and moves southward across the state. Generally, the color change is predictable, but it can vary from year to year. Much depends on the weather.

Where’s The Best Place?

You can enjoy Missouri’s fall color almost anywhere.

  • For spectacular vistas, choose routes along rivers with views of forested bluffs, and along ridges with sweeping scenes of forested landscapes.
  • On a smaller scale, drive on back roads, hike, or take a float trip under a colorful forest canopy on a clear, blue-sky day. Visit MDC Conservation Areas and Missouri State Parks.
  • Even treeless areas, such as prairies and roadsides, display beautiful shades of gold, purple, olive, and auburn with autumn wildflowers, shrubs, and curing, rustling grasses.
  • If you can’t get out of town, enjoy places with mature trees, such as older neighborhoods, parks, and even cemeteries.

Find events on your route

The Missouri Division of Tourism’s online calendar is packed with events happening all across Missouri this fall. Find those along your preferred routes.

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Fall Color Reports

  • Central Region, including Columbia, Jefferson City, and Lake of the Ozarks
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    Not Started

    Fall color is in its early stages, and reports will begin soon. Stay tuned!

  • Kansas City Region
    Status
    Not Started

    Fall color is in its early stages, and reports will begin soon. Stay tuned!

  • Northeast Region, including Kirksville and Hannibal
    Status
    Not Started

    Fall color is in its early stages, and reports will begin soon. Stay tuned!

  • Northwest Region, including St. Joseph and Chillicothe
    Status
    Not Started

    There’s not much fall color yet here in the Northwest Region. We’re seeing some sumacs with purple colors. Also, hackberries, some walnuts, and some cottonwoods are slightly yellow, but it’s still pretty light.

    We’ve been pretty dry lately, and the weather’s been way too warm, both day and night, to create much good early fall color. Hopefully we’ll receive some rain and have some cool nights to get the normal colors off to a good start in a week or two. We’re hoping to have more to talk about next week.

  • Trees showing early hints of fall color in the Ozark Region
    Ozark Region, including Rolla, West Plains, and Eminence
    Status
    Not Started

    The Ozark landscapes of forested river hills and woodlands are showing just a hint of beautiful fall color. The dominant dark, vibrant greens of spring and summer have started to fade. Now, lighter greens are becoming noticeable. Amid these warmer greens, you will see an occasional maple or mulberry tree with its leaves starting to turn yellow. Some American sycamores and elm trees, growing in the bottomlands, are also fading to yellow. If you spy a black gum tree or sumac bush with brilliant red leaves, enjoy and stay tuned. Nature’s picturesque palette of fall colors is just beginning.

    Fall Color Hot Spots

    The Missouri Ozarks is blessed with natural beauty in all seasons. As fall progresses, be sure to experience the great outdoors! Places to see fall color can be as close as your backyard or the nearest park. However, the top use of public land is auto touring. Get out and take your friends and family to the forest and experience nature in person. For a bigger adventure, there is no better place to view fall colors than on a river float. The Jacks Fork and Current rivers are beautiful in peak color (or any time of the year), but so are the Gasconade, Pig Piney, Rubidoux, and many others. Start making your plans!

  • Southeast Region, including Cape Girardeau, Farmington, and Poplar Bluff
    Status
    Not Started

    There’s not much to report this week, which is not surprising for our region. Enjoy the continuing summer heat and pop-up showers, and stay tuned for more.

  • Southwest Region, including Springfield, Branson, and Joplin
    Status
    Not Started

    Fall color in the Southwest Region has not yet started. We are seeing some leaf drop, induced by drought stress, on several species. This is a normal defense mechanism of those species. A general rain fell Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, which should reduce this type of leaf drop. We now await the right temperature and moisture conditions for fall leaf color change to occur.

  • St. Louis Region
    Status
    Not Started

    Over much of the region, there is minimal color change so far, although some scattered color can be seen in some dogwoods, cherry, and black walnut as well as vines and shrubs like Virginia creeper and sumacs. A warm and wet fall color season tends to reduce the intensity of fall color, but it’s early, and things can change dramatically. Warm, dry days and cool nights will provide us with the most brilliant fall color.

    Fall Color Hot Spots

    Don’t forget about the late-season wildflowers in prairies, glades, and woodlands. Check out Busch or Victoria Glades Conservation Areas or Shaw Nature Reserve to see some late-summer wildflowers.