Expert says drought hasn’t dampened Iowa’s fall foliage show

DES MOINES — Experts say many Iowa trees are showing some brilliant colors right now due to recent cool temperatures.

Mark Runkel, a forest health technician with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says you don’t have to venture far to see nature’s autumn show. “Drive around your neighborhood. You can drive around your city parks. You can walk around some hiking trails,” Runkel says. “There are a lot of opportunities right near everybody’s home to just see some of these amazing color changes.”

For tree experts like Runkel, the colors of the leaves are a clue to what type of tree it is. “You can definitely tell which species based on what colors you’d be seeing,” Runkel says. “It can get a little bit challenging in a forest, if you’re looking at a forest from a distance, and just seeing all these vibrant colors.”.

Sugar maples, for example, often turn orange in the fall.  “I’m particular to the hard maples. I think that’s a really cool color,” Runkel says. “A lot of the oak species, as well, they kind of play off one another. Especially if you’re looking at a bluff full of trees, you can really see the differences between them really quickly.”

Oak trees in Iowa are the last to show their fall color. Most of the state’s walnut trees have already dropped their leaves. The timing of this year’s show of fall foliage in Iowa is pretty typical, according to Runkel. “We’re pretty much seeing it act normally as it would in year’s past,” Runkel says. “The drought conditions that we’ve had can sometimes really impact the fall color, but this year we haven’t really seen any significant impacts.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has a webpage that offers daily updates on the best viewing for fall colors in Iowa. .