Colorado Fall Color Primer
Colorado 2018 fall color information and forecast.
The Colorado drought will have an impact on the foliage. Here's what you need to know to make the most of your fall tree viewing.
The "peak season" will be a bit earlier than normal this year. The entire state of Colorado will see trees turning ahead of schedule. In the central part, aspens hit their peak about the third week of September through early October. This year we could see plenty of color by the weekend of the 15th-16th.
Back home in Missouri, my grandmother swore that we had to have the "first frost" before the maple and oak trees would begin to turn. It turns out that temperature has very little to do with the process. However, it can play a role in how vibrant the colors can be. Cooler nights can make tree leaves color brighter. This is especially true for the darker red and purple colors. It's believed these are created by some sort of "anti-freeze" in the tree leaves. It's the shorter days and less sunlight that makes leaves turn color. When the energy a tree is spending outweighs the amount of energy it's taking in, it shuts down the lifeline to the leaves and they change color.
It's thought too that drought-stricken trees will drop their leaves quicker. Usually, leaves stay on trees for about two weeks or more after they turn. A drought-stressed tree can have a weaker bond between the leaf and the steam. Those leaves can fall off almost immediately. This is not always the case but can certainly shorten the "peak period."
Wind is the wildcard. It can be a real "color killer." A few big wind storms put a quick end to the season. In northern Colorado, if you wait till the last week of September, you may miss it. Watch the weather and wind forecasts. It can put a quick end to the fall color in Colorado.