AUSTIN— With the temperatures starting to cool down around the state, Texans are heading outside to see the magical shades of red, orange and yellow leaves ushering in the fall season. Texas State Parks offer an outdoor escape to all who want to take in the changing of the foliage while still maintaining a safe social distance.
“Our parks come to life during the fall season with colored leaves, migrating birds, and visitors celebrating a break from summer heat,” said Ky Harkey, Director of Interpretation for Texas State Parks. “Since I was a kid, it has always been my favorite time to get outdoors in Texas. I encourage everyone to go outside and take in the autumn air at a state park near them.”
Peak months to see fall foliage in Texas begins in October when the state starts experiencing drops in the temperature and lasts until December. Anyone planning a trip to a Texas State Park should keep in mind that parks are operating at a limited capacity, so reserving a day pass in advance is highly recommended. Day passes can be purchased online though the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website or over the phone by calling (512) 389-8900.
In West Texas, keep an eye out for big colonies of rosy-purple flower spikes of bull grass known as “El Toro” along the mountain slope grasslands. Soon, the bigtooth maple trees will begin sporting leaves with red and orange tones, and the chinquapin oaks will turn shades of yellow and rich bronze. While exploring the area, you should be able to see bright orange red madrone berries along the maple and oaks.
The fall blue grama grasslands and their teal blue green leaves are expected to be on display in the Rolling and High Plains of the state. Giant eastern cottonwoods lining the Red River should be covered in bright yellow leaves. West of Fort Worth, ancient post oak and blackjack oak forests will begin to brighten the landscape from orange to golden brown.
The Hill Country is a great place to see the majestic bigtooth maple leaves turn red and orange. Lacy oaks should show blue green to peach colored foliage. Many parks in this area have wonderful displays of deep red color thanks to the Texas oaks, also known as Spanish oaks. Bald cypresses lining the Guadalupe River should also have a dazzling display of orange and red foliage when they begin to turn.
The forests of East Texas are well known as a hot spot for fall foliage. The extraordinary bright red color of red maple, orange color of sugar maple and the sweetgum with its unique star-shaped leaves with outstanding yellow, red, and purple fall color can be viewed by driving, hiking or biking in parks in this area. In southeast Texas, the American beech with its golden bronze color will begin its show as temperatures drop.
Although not typically mentioned in the fall, the coastal prairie region of Texas is one of the best places to see the vibrant pink to pinkish-red flower panicles of Gulf Coast muhly grass. These ornamental plants can be found in the grasslands behind the dunes.
The Rio Grande Valley is an amazing place to see fall foliage but usually can’t be seen until December or January due to its subtropical climate. The golden yellow leaves of cedar elm and sugarberry, and the yellowish to orange-red color of the anacua are some of the most common bearers of fall color.
Whichever region of the state you choose to explore this fall, you can discover a nearby state park by visiting TexasStateParks.org
As the leaves begin to change at Texas State Parks, images of the fall foliage images will be updated on the TPWD Flickr page.