How To: Leaf Peep in Missouri

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A Natural Show 

From the end of September through the middle of November, Mother Nature puts on an incredible display of color across Missouri. Leaf peepers travel throughout the Show-Me State to see trees transition from deep green to brilliant shades of yellow, orange, copper and red. Before you hit the road for a fall trip, check out a few tips on how to make the most of your autumn adventure.

A boat drives through the Lake of the Ozarks with colorful fall foliage lining the coast.
Fall color surrounds the Lake of the Ozarks.

Where To Go

Fall color begins in the northern part of the state and gradually moves southward with peak color occurring in mid to late October. The Missouri Department of Conservation has a helpful fall color tracker that makes it easy to check the status of each region in the state. 

Generally speaking, trees that are most exposed to direct sunlight during the fall produce more vibrant leaves. That’s one reason brilliantly colored foliage appears along the slopes of mountains and hills. 

Visit one of the many fall festivals throughout the state to round out your adventure. And no road trip would be complete without some Missouri-made snacks to enjoy along the way.  

A display of pumpkins and gourds sits in front of a barn. There are families pushing wheelbarrows and picking out pumpkins in the background.
The Weston Red Barn Farm offers fun for all ages.

Northwest Missouri

The view from the top of Lover's Leap.
Shades of autumn paint the landscape at Lover’s Leap outside of Hannibal.

Northeast Missouri

Two bicyclists wearing helmets ride from a fall leaf-covered trail into a dark tunnel.
Cyclists of all ages and skill levels can admire fall color as they navigate the Katy Trail.

Central Missouri

  • Missouri River Valley, Rocheport: Enjoy the scenery along the Katy Trail, and sip a Missouri varietal at one of the vineyards in the region. 
  • Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area: Admire the Missouri River from the dramatic bluffs just outside Columbia. 
  • Lake of the Ozarks: One of Missouri’s most popular lakes is also home to some of the best fall color in the state.
The Alley Spring Mill surrounded by colorful fall foliage.
The historic red mill and teal blue water adds to the colorful view at Alley Spring Mill near Eminence.

Southeast Missouri

  • Eminence: Start your southeast Missouri adventure in Eminence, a small town located near the banks of the Jacks Fork River.   
  • Mark Twain National Forest: Immerse yourself in fall color on a drive through this national forest.
  • Ozark National Scenic Riverways: Enjoy acres of pristine landscape lining the banks of the Current and Jacks Fork rivers during a fall float trip.
A woman with long blonde hair wearing a beanie and heavy coat stands with a mug overlooking a river valley and rolling hills at sunset. The leaves have changed color for fall.
Take in the view from a cabin at the River of Life Farm.

Southwest Missouri

  • River of Life Farm: Sip coffee at your cozy cabin above rolling Ozark forests and the North Fork River.
  • Dogwood Canyon Nature Park: Explore the tree-lined trails and streams at this 10,000-acre “unspoiled Ozark paradise.”  
  • Route 66: You’ll find plenty of color on display as you cruise down the “Mother Road” through southwest Missouri.

If you’re heading out to see fall color in Missouri, share your adventures with us on Facebook, X and Instagram.