EUREKA, Mo. – Some years, including last year, by this time we are past peak colors. But this year, trees have been a bit slower to turn. This weekend with temperatures in the 60s and 70s, the weather will be perfect for spending some time soaking in these autumn colors.
Eric Otto, a Park Naturalist with Missouri State Parks, says the process of leaves turning colors and falling begins as the days get shorter.
“As we have these cooler nights and warmer days you get sugars moving through those leaves that get trapped in there and that’s responsible for some of the reds we see. The reds and purple colors that we have going on,” Otto said.
Otto says that different trees turn at different times. While some trees have already dropped most of their leaves, others, like sugar maples are still turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red.
There are numerous state parks within an hour drive or so from St. Louis where you can take a scenic drive through them or get onto the trails and hike up to an overlook.
Otto says that there are a few things to consider when choosing a place to view the changing colors.
“When I think about where to go to look for trees I think about things like views. Views of the landscape with larger hills. That good relief that you have a lot of diversity of trees spread from the bottoms to the tops and we can see that at a nice viewing platform at Don Robinson State Park,” he said.
“We have Sandy Creek State Historic Site, we have Meramec State Park and Onondaga. And here at Route 66 State Park. Castlewood state parks. A lot of parks with good tree diversity.”
With the warmer temperatures, this weekend they are expecting big crowds. The parks can fill up, so he always recommends getting an early start.