Fall Colors

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Fall colors in Missouri

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.


Sugar maple tree in fall, showing variety of colors on same tree
Sugar Maple Tree, Fall Color
In fall, the outermost leaves of sugar maples often turn color first, leaving the green and yellowish leaves in the protected parts.


Fall colors in Missouri
Fall colors in Missouri


White oak branch showing brilliant reddish fall color
White Oak Leaves, Fall Color
In good fall-color years, white oaks can turn beautiful claret red. This is usually at the peak of fall color, in the second half of October for most of the state.


Closeup of smooth sumac leaves turning color in fall
Smooth Sumac, Fall Foliage
Smooth sumac leaves are feather-compound, 12–16 inches long, with 15–23 coarsely-toothed leaflets. The central leaf-stem is smooth and lacks wings. Leaves turn red in fall.


Fragrant sumac leaves in fall color
Fragrant Sumac, Fall Color
Like its cousin poison ivy, fragrant sumac turns lovely colors in the fall. Note the lack of a separate, elongated leaf stalk on the center leaflet; instead, the leaf middle leaflet blade tapers to where it joins the other two.


Multicolored leaves of sugar maple in fall
Sugar Maple Autumn Leaves
Sugar maple occurs in moist to dry upland forests, margins of glades, ledges and bases of bluffs, and stream banks.


Against a bright blue sky, bald cypress trees with coppery foliage tower over a tupelo swamp.
Bald Cypress Trees in Fall Color, Southeast Missouri
In autumn, the delicate, feathery needles of bald cypress trees turn copper. The trees tower like cathedrals in swamps and in yards.


Flowering dogwood branches showing fall color
Flowering Dogwood Branches In Fall Color
Flowering dogwood is one of our standout species for fall color.


Photo of sassafras tree in autumn color.
Sassafras is a pleasant tree in cultivation. Its leaves are very colorful in autumn.


Fall Color
Fall Color
Autumn leaves at Mark Twain Lake.


Bright red and orange sugar maple leaves backlit against blue sky
Sugar Maple Leaves, Fall Color
Sugar maple is a popular ornamental tree, especially for its brilliant yellow, orange, and red fall foliage.


Orange sugar maple leaves backlit against blue sky
Sugar Maple Foliage, Fall Color
The sun shining through brilliant sugar maple leaves on a sunny October day can be dazzling.


Photo of a summit at Elephant Rocks State Park showing boulders and trees with fall color
Elephant Rocks State Park in Fall Color
Elephant Rocks State Park, in southeast Missouri, is one of many great places to see fall color in Missouri.


Autumn woods showing a patchwork of different colors
Autumn Woods With Sugar Maples
The magnificent display of fall color in eastern North America is one of the most spectacular sights involving the plant kingdom. Sugar maples, with their bright reds, oranges, and yellows, play a starring role.


Sweet gum leaves in fall color
Sweet Gum Leaves in Fall Color
Many people prize sweet gum as a landscaping tree because of its beautiful fall color.


Beatuiful fall colors in Hartsburg's river bottom.
Hartsburg's Fall Color Display


Tulip tree with leaves showing fall color
Tulip Tree In Fall Color
Tulip trees, though native to only southeastern Missouri, are popular statewide as landscaping trees.


Peck Ranch in Fall colors
Peck Ranch in Fall colors
Peck Ranch in Fall colors

Fall Color Updates Run September–November

Updated: 11/12/2020 - 2:28pm

Central Region, including Columbia, Jefferson City, and Lake of the Ozarks

Color has ended

Fall color has ended in the Central Region.

Updated: 11/18/2020 - 12:12pm

Kansas City Region

Color has ended

Fall color has ended in the Kansas City Region.

Updated: 11/18/2020 - 12:13pm

Northeast Region, including Kirksville and Hannibal

Color has ended

Fall color has ended in the Northeast Region.

Updated: 11/12/2020 - 2:35pm

Northwest Region, including St. Joseph and Chillicothe

Color has ended

Fall color has ended in the Northwest Region.

Updated: 11/18/2020 - 12:14pm

Ozark Region, including Rolla, West Plains, and Eminence

Color has ended

Fall color has ended in the Ozark Region.

Updated: 11/28/2020 - 11:57am

Southeast Region, including Cape Girardeau, Farmington, and Poplar Bluff

Color has ended

Fall color has ended in the Southeast Region.

Updated: 11/28/2020 - 11:56am

Southwest Region, including Springfield, Branson, and Joplin

Color has ended

Fall color has ended in the Southwest Region.

Updated: 11/18/2020 - 12:21pm

St. Louis Region

Color has ended

Fall color has ended in the St. Louis Region.

Related Content

Why Leaves Change Color

Learn what is happening inside leaves to make them change color.

Fall Color Events

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