Iowa is getting a glimpse of fall color

Iowa’s leaf watchers are getting ready for the big fall show.

Unfortunately, this year may be more average than awesome for leaf viewers, according to Jeff Goerndt, DNR State Forest section supervisor.

“I hope my prediction is wrong,” says Goerndt. “But because of the wet weather we’ve been experiencing, color will likely be variable across the state. You get the best and brightest colors when you’ve got a lot of warm, dry, sunny days and crisp, cool nights.”

The broadest pallet of fall colors is found in northeast Iowa, where there are more hard maples supplying the bright reds and oranges, says Goerndt. But there are plenty of other areas around the state with outstanding fall landscapes. For example, the contrast between the yellow ash and the deep green cedars of the Loess Hills is a completely different yet equally beautiful fall look.

Leaves typically change first across northern Iowa between the last week of September to the second week of October. Central Iowa will see leaves changing from the first to third weeks of October and southern Iowa between the second week and the end of October.

What changes where is subject to weather. How vivid and how long leaves remain is also determined by weather, and the leaf-watching season can be cut short by strong wind events.

The warm days and cool nights, the length of the days and even the acidity of the soil at a tree’s location all influence the leaf color a tree produces. As days get shorter, chlorophyll production slows, allowing trees to go dormant and other leaf colors to show.

For weekly updates on fall color around Iowa contact the DNR fall color hotline at 515-233-4110. A pdf version of the weekly updates along with other fall color information can be found at

For fall festivals, scenic byways, places to stay and other ways to enjoy fall in Iowa, visit