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2Cooleys Ozarks Fall Foliage Trip Planning Guidelines

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Ozark Fall Foliage Trip Planning Guidelines
for the North Central Arkansas & South Central Missouri Corridor
Norfork Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, White River, Glade Top Trail, and Ozark National Forest areas

Please Note! We No Longer Produce Annual Foliage Reports. Why?

Long-Range Planning Guidelines Needed Instead
Foliage reports have no value to folks planning a fall trip weeks or months in advance. They need a long-range planning guide instead. Locals can see what is happening so they don't need a report either.

5 Guidelines For Long-Range Ozarks Foliage Trip Planning

After 16 consecutive years of foliage reporting we can, within a narrow margin of error, predict when to arrive for a grand Fall in the Ozarks experience. Follow the five guidelines outlined below. For more details on any guideline click the Details links.


1 - Every Ozark Fall Has Color
Quantity and quality of fall color is entirely dependent upon fall weather conditions - temperature, sunlight, and fall rains. Summer drought has very little effect on fall colors.

2 - Watch Ozark-Specific Weather Forecasts
It takes cool sunny days with temperatures no higher than high 60's, and cooler night temperatures in the low 50's to low 40's. Warm cloudy days and warm nights kill color development. A light frost helps. A heavy frost is not good. Watch local weather forecasts.

3 - Choose A Color Peak
There are TWO foliage peaks in the Ozarks, the False Peak (October 14 - 20) and the True Peak (Oct 26-Nov 5). They are 6 to10 days apart, each lasts about 4 to 5 days. Arrive between these two peaks and you will not enjoy strong color.

4 - You Find The Color
There are no well organized foliage tours here. You find the color on your own. In Details we give links to routes and tours as well as organized "print and bring" maps. Tours include dining, shopping, and attractions along foliage routes. Start by clicking the links below under Our Favorite Foliage Drives.

5 - Take What Officials Predict With A Grain Of Salt
The years we experienced spectacular color were the years experts said there would be poor color. Indeed these experiences are what lead us to produce our Fall in the Ozarks reports! Know the basics of Ozarks fall foliage and you can read between the lines of what reports are saying - or not saying. Details

Our Favorite Foliage Drives

2012 Glade Top Trail Photos - Taken Oct. 21, 2012
14 photos of color on the Glade Top Trail

2012 First Peak Photographs - Taken Oct. 20, 2012
14 photos showing developing second peak colors - photos 15 through 28

2012 First Peak Photographs - Taken Oct. 15, 2012
14 photos showing first peak colors this year - photos 1 through 14

If you have not run the Glade Top before be sure to visit our Glade Top Trail guide.

If you want that special "foliage over water" scene, check out Gunner Pool and Mirror Lake at Blanchard Springs Caverns. Gunner is Point 25 and Blanchard is Point 24 on our Sylamore Tour Guide. These self-guided tours show points of interest, plus gas stations, restaurants and diners, shopping, attractions, and a long list of other needs.

Why We Recommend Highway 341 In Baxter County, Arkansas

Looking at our map you can see that Highway 341 (A.K.A. Push Mountain Road) is on the west side of our reporting area. It runs from Point 43 down to Point 28 on our map. This is a true Ozark Mountains road with a lot of twists and turns. There are many side roads you can pull into, park, and get out for a beautiful up close look at understory color. Several hiking trails with good parking lots sit right off Highway 341.

There are many wildflowers and beautiful grasses along the way. Most importantly for fall color, there is the largest population of sweet and black gum trees next to the road that we know of. Gum trees have the most diverse fall colors of all trees. Nowhere else that we know of has this many gum trees.

There is less traffic on 341 than most other paved roads. There is a wide-open overlook at Point 42. There are several hiking trails, and several back country roads (well marked on our map) you can drive from off 341. Take 341 down to Highway 14 and it's just a 10 minute drive to the Sylamore Creek National Scenic River Corridor. There you will find Barkshed, Gunner Pool, and Blanchard Springs Caverns Recreation Areas. If you want to see foliage over water, you can do so at all three locations.

Blanchard Springs   (Point 24 on our map) is, in our opinion, a must-see. It's far more than just a cavern tour. Hiking trails, picnic spots, a historic site, a small lake with a water fall, a large spring, a large bluff, bathrooms, paved roads, and gorgeous scenery make this one of our favorite spots. The gift store at Blanchard Springs is well worth the visit and is staffed by a friendly, helpful staff. Then, the town of Mountain View, Arkansas is a scenic 11 mile run from Blanchard Springs, and the Ozark Folk Center is about 14 miles away. It will take a whole day to visit Blanchard, the Folk Center, and Mountain View.

On the northern end of Highway 341 you'll find the Norfork National Trout Hatchery that's open every day except Christmas, Norfork Dam Parks, Norfork Lake, the North Fork River, and Dry Run Creek. At Dry Run you can watch trout leap the waterfall, one of the few places in the world you'll see trout (not salmon) jumping waterfalls.

There are few buildings along Highway 341. Most of the road is through primitive wilderness. But you're no more than 30 minutes from several   small towns having food, gas, shopping, stores, pharmacies, restrooms, etc. For even more things to see and do, come back to Point 1 via Scenic Highway 5 through the little villages of Calico Rock and Norfork. There's even an old railroad era historic park in Calico, as well as a small railroad museum.

For complete details (our map even shows where you'll get cell signal) visit:


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