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.

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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:

  • Northeast Illinois is hitting the fall color stride this week, with red oaks in deep red.
  • White and bur oaks are turning brown and yellow.
  • Hickories are turning bright yellow.
  • Maples are glowing yellow, orange, red, and purple.
  • Scarlet oaks are blushing red, hill’s oaks are turning reddish yellow, and pin oaks are starting to show orange and red.
  • Black oaks continue a reddish brown mottling; White oaks are turning red.
  • Sassafras is the current show stopper with hues of purple-red, to orange yellow, glowing with a slight bit of light.
  • Sugar maples continue to turn a beautiful reddish orange, interspersed with green.
  • Wild strains of red maples are just starting to blush reds to orange-red.
  • White pines are starting their senescence, with old needles turning yellow and casting.
  • Among shrubs, witch-hazel is in bloom right now, with yellow colors on leaves being bright and clear.
  • Hazelnuts are starting an apricot yellow fall color.
  • Black-haw viburnum is purple.
  • Many of the sumacs are winding down, with purples, reds and orange still visible.
  • In both urban and rural settings, there is still a good amount of green, so the fall color show may continue for a while.

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:
    • Roadside dogwoods and sumac are maroon and scarlet, while burning bushes in urban areas are hitting their peak with similar colors.
    • There has been big change in woodland areas during the past week with much more vibrant yellowing.
    • Sugar maples are showing brilliant hues of yellow and orange.
    • Hackberry, basswood, and elm are yellowing.
    • White ash trees are still showing pinkish purple; green ash tree leaves are mainly yellow and falling; some red maples are still green, but most are showing crimson and scarlet.
    • One color that has not been reported is the changing of second-year white pine needles from green to orange/yellow. High winds this week put that color on the ground where there are stands of white pine or individual trees in yards.
  • It's a colorful week in west-central Illinois, though high winds took down a lot of leaves.
    • Many maples are in full color and leaves are dropping quickly.
    • Oaks are just starting to turn purple, bronze and golden.
    • Catalpas are turning yellow.
    • Some Osage orange trees are an amazing yellow this year.
    • Autumn color can now be found on all area landscapes with cottonwood, silver maple, walnut, hickory, Paw Paw, Osage orange, mulberry, catalpa, and buckeye steadily yellowing.
    • Sugar maple and ash are readily showing yellow/red/gold/purple/orange; patches of sumac and individual sassafras and dogwoods are steadily reddening.
    • Areas with heavy populations of ash and sugar maples are already quite beautiful, but a lot of leaves were knocked down by high winds.
    • Nearly the entirety of trees along the Great River Road should display exceptional colors over the next 10 days.

 

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 probably a week to 10 days away with good viewing through Halloween.
    • Yellows abound everywhere on common hardwood species.
    • Reds are in full swing on sumac, dogwood, tree vines and various shrubs, plus sugar maples.
    • The white oaks are beginning to show reds now.
    • Ash trees are showing yellows and reds.
    • The bottomlands are already past peak if they are heavy in cottonwoods or walnuts, while the sycamores, ashes and oaks are turning great colors now.
    • Oaks are last to turn everywhere they grow and will be an array of yellow, burnt orange, reds and browns as we move through October.
  • The dry weather in east-central Illinois is changing color very quickly and recent high winds took a toll on some leaves that have turned.
    • The yellows in the black walnut and green ash have mostly faded.
    • Orange and yellow in the hickories are quickly turning to brown in many areas. Sugar maple, yellow poplar and sassafras are quickly fading as well.
    • The Virginia creeper and poison ivy vines are still showing bright red in some areas.
    • White ashes that were showing a deep purple color are mostly dropping leaves.
    • White oaks are turning a scarlet red, purple or even orangish color and black and red oaks are turning a yellow orange to red. 

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:

  • A few intense wind events have removed many leaves from early turners such as black walnut and drought-stressed trees in parts of Southern Illinois.
  • Despite the wind, the fall color show is underway and looking good.
  • Yellow and orange coloration is peaking in the hickories, sugar maples and sassafras trees.
  • Vines like Virginia creeper and poison ivy are showing magnificent shades of red.
  • White oaks are really starting to turn, showing reddish and deep purple hues; black and red oaks are also beginning to turn orange.
  • Most of the sugar maples are starting to turn yellow, with the red maples turning red; most of the Virginia creeper vines are turning red; white ash leaves are mostly red and honey locusts are turning yellow.
  • At Giant City State Park, leaf watchers this week were seeing a lot of color and should see a peak in the next week or so.
    • Sugar maples are vibrant, sassafras are brilliant red, purple and yellow, sweet gum are a rich purple and red.
    • Paw Paws are bright yellow and dogwoods are a deep red.
    • Still a little green hanging on, but change is coming fast.
  • In the Cache River region, many walnuts have lost most of their leaves, as have the sumacs; oaks are turning, though mostly still green while showing some color.
    • Visitors are seeing yellow in silver maples, redbud trees are tuning yellow, sassafras are gorgeous with orange, yellow, and red, and half of the cypress trees are copper.
    • Water tupelo trees all look more yellow than green now.
    • A landscape view in many areas is half color/half green.
    • With the recent windy days, it has been raining leaves. A tree looks full of color until the wind blows, then many leaves fall and it the view looks more green for a day or so until more leaves turn!
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