Aspen Tree Autumn Photo Credit: DaveAlan (iStock).

Photo Credit: DaveAlan (iStock).

Well, well, well... it's that time of the year again... when temperatures dip slightly and every Coloradan starts dreaming about fall. But wait – it's still raining? Here's what that might mean for Colorado's fall colors this year.

For starters, it's important to note that two key factors are behind the appearance of fall colors – shorter days and a drop in temperature. Leaves stop their food-making process and chlorophyll breaks down, causing vibrant greens to fade away, making reds, oranges, and yellows visible. In Colorado, this tends to start happening in mid-September – first, in higher elevation areas and then stretching into lower elevation areas around the time October hits.

While this summer has been a hot one thus far, which can lead to a later turn of colors, the National Weather Service predicts that about a week of colder-than-norm temperatures will turn to relatively average temperatures over the next three to four weeks. Meanwhile, above-average precipitation is expected, which will help plant-life around the state stay healthy later into the summer season. Without a rush into colder fall temperatures and without a lack of rain, this could mean that fall colors happen a little later than normal, as lack of moisture tends to be a key indicator of an early and shorter fall color season.

The real question is whether or not all of this summer moisture will make fall colors more vibrant.

According to How Stuff Works, summer weather won't have much of an impact on the vibrance of fall colors. It will be more about what's happening during the fall.

The publication reports that for the best fall colors, clear and sunny fall days need to be followed by chilly, but not freezing nights. Plus, if the stormy weather that frequented the state during the second half of summer stretches for a few more weeks, it's possible that rain and wind could knock down fall leaves quickly, shortening the time for leaf peepers to get their fix. On top of that, a variety of leaf fungi are linked to cold and wet conditions, which can cause spots or browning of leaves.

Healthy trees might mean good fall colors, but excess moisture might have an impact, too. Plus, if the hard rain lingers into fall, it could mean a shorter show with leaves dropping fast.

Long story, short – Coloradans will have to wait and see what weather the next few weeks bring, while also paying close attention to the weather taking place once fall colors start to appear.

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Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee is OutThere Colorado's Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to hike, rock climb, and trail run. He's on a mission to summit all 58 of Colorado's fourteeners and has already climbed more than half.


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(1) comment


I have to say I always laugh when people talk about the fall "colors" here and in the high country. Yellow is a single color. Much as I love this state and while I'll never move back east, fall in upstate northeast blows Colorado away. There actually "colors" from yellow to orange to brilliant red. We have few to no deciduous trees here except the aspen whereas they have maples, oaks, cedars, elms, etc. There are very, very few areas here where you can see anything close to it. Again, I love CO, but aspens turning yellow is nice at best.

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