Illinois Fall Color Report

Enjoy Illinois presents the official Illinois Fall Color Report courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Discover the best places to see foliage unfolding in every region of the state.

Scroll

As we progress through October, we're starting to see some gorgeous pops of color throughout the state. Read on to find out what to look for and where.

The map below shows the estimated peaks to see the autumn hues in each region. Click the links to jump directly to a region and see what colors have sprung up this week — and explore the best places to see the fall colors for yourself.

Updated 10/18/2020

The regions of Illinois
Estimated Peak Times
Chicago & Beyond: Second week of October
Great Rivers Country: Second week of October
Land of Lincoln: Middle of October
Trails to Adventure: Last week of October

AMBER SKYLINES AROUND THE VIBRANT CITY

Chicago & Beyond

At night, the lights of Chicago's skyline make for a dazzling display of its own, but look down and you'll see plenty of fall foliage popping up among the city's verdant parks and public spaces. Be sure to venture outside the city, where some of the best fall colors can be seen, peppering the region known as Chicago & Beyond with all the hues of autumn.

 The Best Places to See Fall Colors:

Estimated Peak Times

Second week of October

What's Happening This Week:

  • Now is the time to see the show with not much green left in the woods, however strong winds in the region stripped many leaves off trees prematurely.
  • The oaks are red, orange, and brown and look really nice this year.
  • Hickories are looking bright yellow with some brown.
  • Maples leaves are purple, red, and orange.
  • Sugar maples are reddish orange.
  • Red maples show blushes of red if leaves remain, while silver maples look a bit washed out in yellow.
  • Catalpa leaves are yellowish green, while sassafras is winding down its reds, purples and oranges.
  • Oaks are a bit delayed, with the reds, blacks, pins, scarlet, and shingle.
  • The black oaks are emerging with predominately brownish red color.
  • White oaks are still changing, with burs, whites, swamp white, chestnut, overcup and chinquapin showing more than half in color of reds to washed-out yellowish brown, with green remaining throughout.
  • The urban landscape is still full of specimen trees with beautiful maple cultivars and many different shrubs like sumac and burning bush.
  • There are still bursts of flower color in the roadsides (asters/goldenrods).

Red Leaves Between the Rivers

Great Rivers Country

Stretching the western edge of Illinois along the bank of the Mississippi River, Great Rivers Country is home to some of autumn's most brilliant landscapes. There you'll find trees such as oak, white ash, red maple, sugar maple, hickories, and burning bushes, which by the end of the season, shine with a brilliant scarlet in the sun.

The Best Places to See Fall Colors:

Estimated Peak Times

Second week of October

What's Happening This Week:

  • Throughout northwest Illinois:
    • Red maple leaves are bright red, while silver and sugar maples show the whole spectrum from yellow to yellow/orange to green to red.
    • Crimson king maples in yards are turning reddish brown.
    • Walnut trees are dropping leaves fast, while oaks show green to orange to brown (white oaks are showing some dark pink/red and red oaks are flashing burgundy and yellow/brown).
    • Boxelder trees are green to yellow, and hickories are burnt orange to red.
    • Sumac is red and holding (if they still have leaves).
    • Dogwood shrubs along roadsides have dulled to a grayish brown, and the burning bushes are holding on to scarlet and reddish brown colors.
  • In areas of west central Illinois, the peak is passing fast, although near the rivers themselves the show has just begun.
    • Maples lost a lot of leaves due to high winds.
    • Cottonwoods, ash and walnut trees are mostly bare.
    • Tulip poplar is just starting to turn golden.
    • White oaks are turning maroon/purple, but also brown due to colder nights.
    • Black oaks are brown, as are many of the hickories.
    • At the same time, some of the oaks are still very green.
    • Near the Illinois River, there is still good color where leaves haven’t blown away. The oaks are just now starting to show some nice red colors.
    • With the exception of pecan and some stubborn oak species which remain predominantly green, the foliage of most other area tree species continues to actively turn between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.
    • Hickory, Paw Paw, Osage orange, mulberry, catalpa, and buckeye trees continue to yellow.
    • Sugar maples and ash are readily showing yellow/red/gold/purple/orange.
    • Patches of sumac and individual sassafras and dogwoods continue to redden.

 

CENTRAL ILLINOIS' SHIMMERING SUMACS

Land of Lincoln

The central region of Illinois is steeped in history, but the leaves keep turning year after year in the Land of Lincoln. Home to cities such as the capital, Springfield, the Illinois River Valley comes alive with the orange and yellow of maples and oaks, the purple hues of dogwoods and hazelnuts, and the red and orange clusters of rose hips on wild roses.

 The Best Places to See Fall Colors:

Estimated Peak Times

Middle of October

What's Happening This Week:

  • In Central Illinois, peak color is here with good viewing through Halloween.
    • Sugar maples are showing oranges and reds.
    • Oaks are beginning to turn bronze, yellow, and red.
    • Red oaks are turning a yellow orange to red.
    • There is some orange and yellow in the hickories.
    • White oaks are mostly turning a scarlet red or purple and black.

Saffron Hues in Southern Illinois

Trails to Adventure

The sprawling canopies of Shawnee National Forest cover the landscape of Southern Illinois, a region known as Trails to Adventure. In the fall, hickories, red oak, and sassafras form a tapestry of yellow and orange, while trees like white oak settle into a deep red. All of it makes for a perfect time to hike among the trails or take a trip through Shawnee Wine Trail.

The Best Places to See Fall Colors:

Estimated Peak Times

Last week of October

What's Happening This Week:

  • The sumac and dogwoods are showing magnificent hues of red.
  • Most white oaks are scarlet red and even have a purple tint to them.
  • Green ash trees which turn yellow lost many leaves with the wind events last week.
  • White ash are still holding some deep purple colors that are a favorite each fall.
  • Hickories are turning orange-yellow and then brown.
  • Some of those in the red oak group (pin, black, northern red, etc.) are beginning to turn burnt orange hues, but many are still green.
  • Many low-lying areas where the trees are comprised of walnut and cottonwoods have lost most of their leaves.
  • The sassafras is just about done turning color, while the Virginia creeper vines are still mainly red.
  • In deep southern Illinois, there is still a lot of green, but trees have starting turning during the past week.
    • Hickory leaves are currently a nice golden yellow.
    • Bald cypress trees in the swamps are also a beautiful sight to see, as they are turning a nice rust color before dropping needles.
    • The recent rain has made many of the trees ‘glow’ with green and gray lichens that contrast with their dark bark.
  • In the Cache River region, tree varieties which have lost most if not all of their leaves include black walnut, sumac, tulip (yellow) poplar, sycamore, and honey locust.
    • The hickories have really come to the fore with color change.
    • Oaks and silver maples are still very green compared to other species, but the landscape view is now more color than green.
    • The color peak should occur during the next week or so, if the leaves don’t blow away.
Enjoy Illinois Magazine

Enjoy Illinois Magazine

Find unexpected ways to enjoy Illinois in this biannual magazine that explores every corner of the state. Each issue offers a mix of travel stories, stunning photography and timely trip ideas that make the most of each season.

Order a Copy

Order a copy of Enjoy Illinois and also receive the Illinois State Park Guide and an Official Highway Map.

Order Print Version
Grab a Digital Copy

Read Enjoy Illinois magazine online or download the PDF and start exploring trip ideas around Illinois.

View it Online Download PDF

Send me Enjoy Illinois Magazine

Get inspired by top travel stories, and discover even more reasons to #EnjoyIllinois.

Order a Copy!