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2Cooleys Guide To Ozark Fall Foliage

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

Details To Guidelines
# 1 | # 2 | # 3 | # 4 | # 5

Rule 2 - Understand The Two Color Peaks
In reading different area foliage reports you will see discrepancies as to when peak foliage occurs. Quite simply this is because there are actually two peaks! We call them the False Peak and the True Peak. These two peaks are about 6 to 10 days apart. Both are beautiful yet distinctly different. Unless you want to spend nearly a month in the area to experience both, you WILL need to make a choice as to which peak you prefer. If you arrive in that 6 to 10 day period between these two peaks you will NOT enjoy color the way you hope to.

As far as we know 2Cooleys is the first to talk about an area having two foliage peaks, certainly the first in the Ozarks. It was real-world experience that lead us to this understanding. Anyone who spends any time in Ozark foliage would make the same observation of two peaks. While this concept of two peaks flies in the face of convention, it is indeed a fact. We have two peaks simply because of our location on Planet Earth, and the diversity of plant life here.

Take a look at the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for United States. You will see that our reporting area lies within three different temperate zones. Further, our reporting area is home to a little over 200 plant species, subspecies, and varieties in 68 families. Most display fall colors. It's not just trees that display colors, but vines, shrubs, and berry plants, all of which are in extreme abundance as native species.

The first peak, which we call the False Peak, is an event specific to individual trees, or small groups trees. False Peak is when you will see the most intense color, and the widest range of color. The difference between the False Peak and the True Peak is that during the True Peak you see ALL of the forests flaming in orange and yellow. All the hillsides will be in high color form. But while intense in a good year, True Peak colors are limited to the oranges, yellows, and mahogany hues. It is primarily the hardwoods and especially the nut-bearing hardwoods, that turn during True Peak.

Thus, in a nutshell, your choice is between the Quality of color in the False Peak versus the Quantity of color during the True Peak. If you want to experience both plan on being in the area from October 15 through November 5 - a 22 day period.

The False Peak is best enjoyed by driving secondary hard surface roads, not the main highways. You need to be up close to the trees, as in 50 yards or less, not miles away. You will be awed by individual trees, and small colonies, not entire hillsides. In a good color year you will see scarlet, deep mahogany, purple, black, blue, and gold in several hues. You'll see leaves having multiple colors, or leaves with exactly one side in brilliant fall color, the other half still green with a line as precise as you could draw with a ruler between the two colors.

False Peak will always occur between October 14 and October 20 - give or take a day or two in any year. Whatever color is to happen in the False Peak will happen between those dates. As always, the caveat is that quantity and quality is dependent on fall weather conditions!

True Peak is what most people expect to see. Entire hillsides in bright intense color display. Very few green trees, very few bare trees. Just millions of trees in bright display. In the Ozarks you will see green even in True Peak because there are thousands of pine trees sprinkled in with the hardwoods. In some spots the Forest Service planted entire ridges and hillsides in pine so you'll see large areas of green even during True Peak.

The main differences between False and True peaks are that you can't really enjoy the False Peak colors running down the roads at 60mph looking at hillsides a mile away. It's close up versus far away.

True Peak will always occur during the last few days of October and the first few days of November, typically from October 26 to November 5 - give or take a couple of days. If True Peak has not happened by the first few days of November, something is wrong, and that normally is that weather was too warm and cloudy. That is why you need to watch the local weather for this area if you really want to nail either peak!

Details To Guidelines
# 1 | # 2 | # 3 | # 4 | # 5

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