DENVER — It may still feel like summer outside, but it won’t be long before Coloradans will be enjoying the seas of golden aspen groves.
While it’s still early, and the current rainy and cooler weather conditions could have an impact on the fall color outlook, Denver7 chief meteorologist Mike Nelson said Colorado looks to be on schedule for a typical fall color forecast. Here’s what that looks like for when to expect peak fall color across the state:
- Northern mountains: Sept. 20 to Sept. 25
- I-70 area: Sept. 22 to Sept. 30
- Central mountains: End of September into early October
- Southern mountains: Early to mid-October
While how far north is a factor for when the leaves change — they generally turn in Montana earlier than Colorado, for example — altitude is a far more significant factor, Nelson explained, mostly due to the variation of nighttime temperatures.
“For example, aspen trees in a given area vary in timing, due to genetic differences, perhaps,” Nelson said. “Some are past peak while the same type of tree nearby may still be changing from green to yellow.”
Soil moisture also plays a role in when the leaves will change. Because it’s been an overall dry year, that could lead to stressed trees, which means they may start to change color earlier.
However, with a cooler and wetter period expected over the next week or two, it could help ease the stress on the trees, possibly keeping them on schedule for peak color in mid-September to early October.
Whether Colorado will have a good fall color year will also depend on well-timed rains and no major fall storms that will knock leaves to the ground too early. If it’s too wet, the leaves can darken to brown or black. The best conditions for an ideal leaf season are a mild late summer, with periodic gentle rain and a dry September with few big windstorms or early snows.
With any luck, we'll be able to enjoy stunning views like in the video player below:
Already planning your fall leaf peeping trip? We’ve compiled an in-depth guide on the best places to hike or drive to check out Colorado’s golden displays in the fall. Check it out in the interactive map below:
Editor's Note: Dates will be updated as more information on the forecast becomes available.