Where to find Utah’s most scenic fall foliage


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Autumn colors are popping in our mountains peppering trees in the valley. We’re getting into out peak season, and while it’s later than the last few days, the change of our leaves is right on schedule. Drought can force leaves to turn early, but this year, our healthy winter and cooler temperatures are now spurring the change to some stunning scenery. Many folks are flocking to the higher elevations for a glimpse of the change, and many of Utah’s scenic loops are showcasing some deep color.

“The change in weather is phenomenal, we just love it. We hike to strictly see the leaves and my husband makes fun of me because I stop and take pictures every few minutes,” Eden resident, Bobbi Stanley said. 

It’s hard not to want photograph the change of season as our trees are now pulling resources into the trunk and roots in an effort to prep for snow and winter weather in the weeks ahead. The beautiful red, orange, purple and yellow hues are part of the hibernation process.

“That’s the true color of the leaf. When we see the green, that’s the chloroplast in the leaf itself, and when that’s removed what we are seeing is the true color of the leaf,” Jason Alba, a horticulturist at Red Butte Garden explained.

Mother Nature switched our weather pattern fairly quickly. The extreme heat disappeared overnight, giving way to cooler temperatures and snow capped mpuntains. Fantastic fall foliage is a formula several days of cooler air and plenty of water. 

“After a great year like this year, with lots of snow int he winter and rain in the spring and summer, it just means more vibrant colors because the trees are really happy,” Jason Alba, a horticulturist at Red Butte Garden said.

Utah has quite a few native trees, and this time of year they follow a somewhat predictable pattern. Maple trees are oftent he first to change color and those are the trees that can display deep red colors. Glancing at our mountains, you see the reds mixing in, but some green leaves appear stubborn. Those leaves are likely some species of an oak tree. Oak trees will hold onto their leaves as long as they can, and they are known to produce that change to copper, yellow or bright red much later than other trees.

“We have lots of aspen in Utah, so when you drive up into the high mountains you’ll see lot of the aspen tree. Those are the one that will have those vibrant yellow trees.You can see  those mixed in with the oaks in the foothills, so you will see a huge variety of trees on your drive,” Jason Alba, a horticulturist at Red Butte Garden said.

Many of our scenic driving loops throughout the state peak in the first two weeks of October. The Alpine Loop in Utah County, Mirror Lake Highway in Summit County and the Trappers Loop in Morgan and Weber Counties are all starting to see the picturesqu shift in color with reds and oranges on display. We have several loops further south like the Nebo Loop in juab County and the Highway 12 loop that allow you alittle more time to catch the color. Warmer temperatures in this portion of the state preserve the chloroplast al ittle longer and push the color change a little further back than northern trees.

“The further south that you go, you’ll have a later transition because it will stay warmer a little bit longer, so their leaves aren’t necessarily going to change. If you go further south you can go later into the season, so closer to Novemeber,”  Jason Alba, a horticulturist at Red Butte Garden said.

Even with a partial warm up, our trees will continue to shift. The weather may slow the transition process, but it won’t stop it, so it’s a good time to grab your camera and send your fall foliage pictures to weather@good4utah.com.

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