Peak ‘leaf peeping’ season kicks off in North Dakota

Fall foliage
Fall foliage(Source: cNews/James Gullage)
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 5:31 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The fall equinox is Thursday and that means reds, oranges, and yellows will soon streak across North Dakota landscapes in one of Mother Nature’s greatest magic tricks.

The changing colors can be seen in North Dakota now through mid-October, with October 5-21 the peak days to “leaf peep,” according to the Farmer’s Almanac. That’s one reason Sara Otte Coleman says fall is a strong season for North Dakota tourism and this year’s no exception.

“I know we’re all so busy, but it’s just nice to take one of those Sunday drives or even plan a weekend and go to a new part of the state you haven’t been to. The beauty is available across the state,” said Sara Otte Coleman, director of the tourism and marketing division for the ND Department of Commerce.

In the fall, the production of green chlorophyll in each leaf slows as the nights get longer and cooler which allows yellow and orange pigments to shine through. And some trees go on to produce red pigment to help ready the tree for spring. However, for the process to occur, there needs to be a good recipe of weather, pigment, and day length.

“The weather is an influence. So, if we have warm sunny days and cool, crisp nights, which we have had in Fargo, but I know the whole state hasn’t had that, that’s what results in the very best fall color,” said Lezlee Johnson, forestry and fire management team leader with the North Dakota Forest Service.

Forestry experts say heavy frost or rain can cut off the show. They say Green Ash trees should be turning now and Aspen and Cottonwood trees next.

One of the most recommended places to spy the fall colors is Pembina Gorge.

To find the best time to see the fall colors in your area visit: 2022 Fall Foliage Map & Nationwide Peak Leaf Forecast