FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — It’s the most wonderful time of year in Northwest Arkansas…and we’re not talking about Christmas! Fall is just around the corner, and with it comes the beautiful leaves that paint the Boston Mountains in many dazzling colors. After a relatively hot Summer, what is the foliage outlook looking like this year in NWA? We answer that question and more in this special edition of Weather 101!

Why Do The Leaves Change Color In Fall?

When discussing fall foliage, it all starts and ends with the Sun. During the spring and summer, plentiful sunshine provides energy for chlorophyll through photosynthesis. This chemical also gives leaves their distinct green color that we see during the warm seasons. Once the calendar turns to fall, that sunshine becomes less prevalent, leading to cooler days and less energy for leaves. This causes chlorophyll to slowly break down and produce other chemicals with different properties, leading to all of the colors that we see during the fall months. Believe it or not, a dry late Summer actually leads to brighter colors, which can be further enhanced by some sunny days and cool nights throughout Autumn! This is due to a lack of rainfall speeding up the processes that cause chlorophyll to break down and rapidly change.

2023 Tree Color Outlook

Northwest Arkansas features a vast variety of trees, the most prominent of which include oaks, hickories and dogwoods. This is a big reason why the Boston Mountains have some of the best colors in the country, as the oaks and dogwoods provide a great combination of colors that you can’t find in many places! There are also numerous birch trees in our area, especially in and around the University of Arkansas campus. With the late summer being so hot and dry in most of NWA, the colors are likely going to very bright, especially along and north of the Bobby Hopper tunnel. This means that the best places for viewing the foliage this year will be around Devils Den State Park and Hawksbill Crag deep in the Boston Mountains, as well as Tanyard Creek Nature Park in Bella Vista!

2023 Fall Foliage Peak Forecast

Northwest Arkansas is unique when it comes to the fall foliage, as colors begin to pop earlier than the surrounding area. In fact, minimal color has already been reported in some areas across the Boston Mountains, and this is a tell-tell sign that things are about to ramp up quickly! While the early part of the summer was quite wet in a lot of spots, the late summer featured dry and hot weather, which means the foliage may be a bit delayed with very bright colors anticipated. We expect colors to be near their peak between October 18th – October 25th, with true peak right around Halloween. Overall, the foliage this year is expected to be much better than last year, when drought and intense heat throughout the entire summer kept colors from sticking around for a long time! If you have any great photos that you want to share, send them in to the Weather Authority App by scanning the QR code below, or email weather@knwa.com! Happy viewing everyone!!

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