Fall Color Report

Report Date Area Description of Fall Color Est. Peak Viewing
9/20/2021 NE Iowa Some trees are beginning to show their fall color. Sumac, dogwood and Virginia creeper are turning red, orange and yellow. Some trees that have been under stress from this summer’s heat and drought are dropping their leaves a bit early including some elm, maple, walnut, cottonwood and others. Oct. 5-10
9/20/2021 NC and NW Iowa The tree canopies are showing splashes of a yellow orange color. The Sumacs are just starting to turn bright red. chokecherries are changing to yellow or shades of red and purple. Oct. 5-10
9/20/2021 Central Iowa Yellow colors are beginning to appear, especially on ash trees due to Emerald Ash Borer decline. Some sparse red colors are showing up on virginia creeper, poison ivy, and sumac. Oct 9-17
9/20/2021 SE Iowa Some yellows are starting to dot the landscape. Poison ivy, dogwood, and sumac are starting to show reds and a little purple. Oct. 20-27
9/20/2021 SCentral Iowa We are starting to see a bit of color, especially along field and woodland edges. The white ash and green ash are turning purple and yellow respectively, sumac and ivy are starting to get red, and bottomland species are turning yellow including walnut and cottonwood. Oct. 15-20
9/20/2021 WC and SW Iowa   Oct. 8-12

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Fall Tree Color Information

Fall is often one of the best times in Iowa, with warm days and cool nights, low humidity, very few insects  and the brilliant autumn colors of our trees.

Every year, thousands of Iowans and visitors flock to the countryside to view nature's colorful display of red, orange, yellow and purple leaves.

Looking for ways to enjoy Iowa's fall color? Visit Iowa Tourism.

Fall Color - Legend and Facts

Green ash leaves turn yellow, but white ash has a purplish cast. The leaves fall after those of walnut trees, but earlier than  those of oaks and maples.

Elm leaves turn various shades of yellow with some turning brown before falling, others falling while still yellow.

Leaves turn yellow on hickory trees, then brown before falling.

Maple (Soft): 
The leaves of soft (silver) maples turn yellow but do not turn brown before falling.

Maple (Hard): 
Brilliant flame red hues are the signature of hard maple leaves. The red pigmentation of some leaves breaks down before falling.

Bur Oak: 
Buff to yellow colors predominate in bur oaks. The leaves remain on the tree and turn brown before falling.

Oak (Red): 
The red oaks have brilliant red leaves in fall though the color is probably not as intense as that of some hard maples.

Oak (White): 
White oaks have a more subdued purple fall leaf color. The leaves then turn brown and often stay on the tree until new leaves begin to grow in the spring.

When do colors peak?

Peak fall color occurs in northeast Iowa, on average, during  the weekend closest to October 10.

Typically, peak fall color occurs progressively later the farther south you go in Iowa. Perhaps the most important thing about fall color is having the time to enjoy it.

Fall Color Map


Printable Fall Colors State of Iowa Map