Is Mother Nature’s “Fall Foliage Show” Branson’s greatest show?

View from Taney County 165 Lookout looking up Lake Taneycomo toward Table Rock Dam.

“Don’t know about that; Branson has some awesome live shows,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center, with a big grin. “But it’s a spectacular sight as ‘Mother Nature’ turns the foliage surrounding Branson into a kaleidoscope of beautiful colors.”

One of the most common questions we’re asked is, “When does the Fall foliage season start and end?” “It generally starts in the middle of September and peaks during the last two weeks of October,” said Greg Cassell, Research Forester, with the Missouri Department of Conservation. He points out that the leaves will turn and fall during that period, but that their color depends on the type of tree and, most of all, the weather.

Cassell feels like the moisture we have been getting throughout the summer is setting the Ozarks up for a great fall foliage season. If that continues through the middle of September, without a lot of persistently hot dry weather, all that’s left is some warm sunny days followed by cool nights to bring out those beautiful fall colors everyone delights in seeing.

He said that, assuming Mother Nature cooperates, the colors people will see will vary with the type of trees currently changing color. Typically, the Sassafras, and Sumac are the first to start changing color. They’re followed the Black Gum, Bittersweet, and Dogwood with the Ashes, Oaks, Hickories, and Maples later in the season. He said the best color will be in the older more mature trees with the colors on the Maple being particularly vibrant and beautiful.

Another question commonly asked is, “Where’s the best place to view the fall foliage?” “Simply put, wherever you are!” Sure, there’s many scenic vistas where you see large areas of color, but chances are you are within sight of beautiful fall foliage just about anywhere in Branson. The fall foliage in and around Silver Dollar City, the bluffs across from Branson Landing, and just driving around Branson are beautiful. That said, here are some specific suggestions for viewing and enjoying Branson’s fall foliage:

Main Street Lake Cruises Lake Queen – A sightseeing cruise aboard Lake Queen is a great experience any time of the year. As you relax aboard the paddle-wheel river boat replica, Lake Queen, and cruise beautiful Lake Taneycomo, opportunities will abound to see Bald Eagles, Blue Herons, and wildlife; amazing natural bluffs carved out by the White River over the eons of time; and spectacular Ozarks’ vistas that the vast majority of the millions of visitors who come to Branson each year never get to see. Each trip is a show produced by Mother Nature that’s unlike anything else available in Branson. That’s even more so when you factor in the spectacular vibrancy and beauty of the fall foliage. The narrowness of Lake Taneycomo lets you see it up close, while at the same time providing scenic panoramic views around just about every “bend.”

Scenic Lookouts – Many “Scenic Lookouts” provide superb panoramic views of the Ozark’s fall foliage. These include the Lookouts on Taney County Route 165, about a mile south of its intersection with State Route 265; the Table Rock Dam Overlook, located on the south end of Table Rock Dam across the road from the Visitors Center, and the Henning Conservation Area Lookout located about a mile west of the junction of State Route 76 and State Route 376 on the north side of the road.

Point Lookout – Located on the campus of the College of the Ozarks on top of a bluff overlooking Lake Taneycomo, “Point Lookout” provides a breath taking and unique view of Branson’s fall foliage with Lake Taneycomo winding through it. It also has a number of mature Maples that are really spectacular. While at the college you might want to plan to eat at the Keeter Center and visit the “Edwards Grist Mill” and the Ralph Foster Museum.

Ozark Mountain Highroad – Greg Cassell suggests that the entire length of the Ozark Mountain Highroad, State Route 465, is an excellent way to experience the beauty of our Ozarks’ fall foliage. That experience can be extended if you exit west off the Highroad onto Highway 76, follow it west and turn south onto Highway 265, and follow it across Table Rock Dam to the Table Rock Dam Overlook.

Branson Tourism Center’s Garrison also points out that a cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle, on Table Rock Lake, or a ride on the Branson Scenic Railway also provide unique views of Branson’s fall foliage. He says that the fall foliage season, coupled with Silver Dollar City’s National Craft & Cowboy Festival, is a busy time and recommends that advanced reservations be made for shows, attractions and lodging.

For more information on the fall foliage in Branson or assistance with information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.