LAKE OF THE OZARKS, MO – There’s nothing like autumn in the Ozarks. The landscape around Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks features many rolling hills, scenic overlooks and expansive views of the shimmering water. The picturesque setting is arguably at its finest when the surrounding hardwood forests turn vivid shades of orange, red and yellow each fall. For colorful fall foliage viewing, a trip to Lake of the Ozarks is an autumn essential.

The unique Ozark topography and colorful forests entice many locals and visitors to get their cameras out and attempt to capture Mother Nature’s glorious display. In fact, the Lake of the Ozarks is so highly revered for it’s colorful fall foliage that it was named by USA Today and The New York Times as a must-visit destination for the best fall colors.

Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks was named one of the best places in the country for viewing fall foliage by USA Today and The New York Times. Photo courtesy of Nancy Trosper and The Lake Sun newspaper.

“As we’re already beginning to see, there’s going to be outstanding fall color this year,” says Ann Koenig, community forester with Missouri Department of Conservation. “It seems like the changing of colors is happening a little earlier this year due to such dry weather throughout the summer and early fall, so don’t wait to take a drive or get out on the Lake to view the fall colors. Get out there now and enjoy the show.”

The best tool for tracking autumn colors in the Lake of the Ozarks area is the Department of Conservation’s Fall Color Forecaster, which can be found online at The Lake of the Ozarks’ information is included under the column titled “Central Region.”

The peak of the fall colors at the Lake of the Ozarks typically occurs in mid- to late-October when the maples, ashes, oaks and hickories are at the height of their fall display. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the peak season varies from year to year depending on the weather and can last until early November. 

There are numerous ways to enjoy the bright colors around the Lake of the Ozarks, both from land and on-the-water. 

The area’s two state parks feature numerous walking and hiking trails that traverse hardwood forests, glades, meadows and offer wonderful views of the Lake of the Ozarks. Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Missouri’s largest and most visited state park, has 14 different trails while Ha Ha Tonka State Park, named the most beautiful place in Missouri by Conde Nast Traveler, has 12 unique trails. Both parks offer a variety of trails that range in accessibility, from paved walking trails to rugged cross-country treks.

By land or by water, there are many popular ways to take in autumn’s colorful scenery, such as self-guided driving tours and visiting the various scenic overlooks around the Lake. Get a view from the water by kayaking and paddleboarding in a secluded cove, piloting a rental pontoon boat or casting for crappie and bass from a fishing boat. Or, take a cruise on the Lake during a narrated site-seeing tour with Celebration Cruises or the Tropic Island. Others find playing a round or two of golf on the Lake’s 13 championship golf courses to be the ideal way to get outside and experience the changing of the colors. The area’s 60-plus lakeside restaurants also offer vibrant views that are as memorable as the variety of delicious food.

Lake of the Ozarks vacationers have their pick of places to stay, from cozy bed and breakfasts to full-service resorts. For all the lodging options available at the Lake of the Ozarks, including full-service resorts and family-owned resorts, condominiums and vacation homes, bed and breakfasts, hotels and motels, and campgrounds and RV parks, click on the “Lodging” tab at

To discover more ways to have fun in the fall at the Lake of the Ozarks and to get information on additional year-round attractions and events, as well as available dining options, visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau’s award-winning website,, or call 1-800-FUN-LAKE (386-5253).

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For media assistance or high-resolution photography, please call The Beenders-Walker Group toll-free at 1-800-544-8474 or email Marjorie BeendersJo Duncan, or Kyle Stewart.

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