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 usually starts earliest in northern and western Missouri and moves southward and eastward across the state. Generally, the color change is predictable, but it can vary from year to year. Much depends on the weather.

MDC's Fall Color Reports usually begin in the second half of September (whenever colors start to appear) and wrap up around the middle of November, when most of the leaves have fallen. Reports appear weekly and are usually posted by Thursday evenings.

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

  • MDC regional map with Central Region highlighted
    Central Region, including Columbia, Jefferson City, and Lake of the Ozarks
    Status
    Color has ended

    Posted 11-25-21

    Fall color has ended in the Central Region.

  • MDC regional map with Kansas City Region highlighted
    Kansas City Region
    Status
    Color has ended

    Posted 11-25-21

    Fall color has ended in the Kansas City Region.

  • MDC regional map with Northeast Region highlighted
    Northeast Region, including Kirksville and Hannibal
    Status
    Color has ended

    Posted 12-1-21

    Fall color has ended in the Northeast Region.

  • MDC regional map with Northwest Region highlighted
    Northwest Region, including St. Joseph and Chillicothe
    Status
    Color has ended

    Posted 11-25-21

    Fall color has ended in the Northwest Region.

  • MDC regional map with Ozark Region highlighted
    Ozark Region, including Rolla, West Plains, and Eminence
    Status
    Color has ended

    Posted 12-1-21

    Fall color has ended in the Ozark Region.

  • MDC regional map with Southeast Region highlighted
    Southeast Region, including Cape Girardeau, Farmington, and Poplar Bluff
    Status
    Color has ended

    Posted 11-25-21

    Fall color has ended in the Southeast Region.

  • MDC regional map with Southwest Region highlighted
    Southwest Region, including Springfield, Branson, and Joplin
    Status
    Past peak

    Posted 12-1-21

    In the first half of fall, we celebrate the bright colors of autumn leaves, but in the second half, tans and browns come to dominate the landscape. Many types of trees, especially oaks, hang on to their leaves. This is considered a juvenile characteristic, but it is not necessarily related to the true age of the tree. These leaves did not complete the process of abscission (the development of a layer of woody tissue at the base of the leaf stem, which seals off the aging leaf and leads to its eventual drop). So these leaves are still slightly attached. Some will fall during the winter; the rest will drop in spring when new leaves expand. These still-attached leaves provide some interesting views as they contrast with the bare trees. Pines and cedars also provide visual contrast, as they do not drop all of their needles and remain green during the winter, adding a scenic quality to their landscapes.

    Even though the bright colors are gone, there are still great opportunities to get outside and enjoy the woods, a park, or a yard near you. You can still walk through leaves and listen to them rustle, watch for wildlife, study the structure of tree branches, or practice your winter tree identification skills.

  • MDC regional map with St. Louis Region highlighted
    St. Louis Region
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    Color has ended

    Posted 11-25-21

    Fall color has ended in the St. Louis Region.