As Autumn unfolds, many leaf peepers may be wondering when crispy warm-toned leaves will make their way into Illinois.
Well, several fall foliage maps have emerged to give an estimated insight into when the greenery will start to glow with new golden hues.
According to the state’s tourism office, peak fall colors usually arrive the second week of October in the Chicago area and along the Mississippi River, with central Illinois seeing peak color in the middle of the month, and the southern portion of the state hitting its peak in the final week of the month.
This year, however, there is a chance that fall colors could potentially arrive a bit later than usual.
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Smoky Mountains, a tourism service that provides information on lodging and other activities around Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has a map that shows its estimated arrival date for peak fall colors across the country, and the picture it is painting for the Chicago area is one that indicates a later-than-usual peak season.
Kenosha County in Wisconsin and Lake County in Illinois could potentially hit their peaks around their normal times, according to the Smoky Mountains’ map, hitting peak in the first or second week of October.
As for the rest of the state, things appear to be a bit delayed this year.
The second week of October could potentially see parts of northern Illinois, including Cook County and most of the area along the Illinois-Wisconsin border, hitting a “partial” color change pattern. Fall colors could also start to emerge in central Illinois during that week, putting it on track to peak later than normal in the month.
In fact, peak color in the Chicago area may not occur until the week of Oct. 24, according to the map. That “peak” belt across the Midwest will also include northern Indiana, including all five Hoosier State counties in the NBC 5 viewing area.
By Halloween, the Chicago area could be moving past its peak, and a large swath of Illinois, including LaSalle, Kendall, Grundy, Will and Kankakee counties, could finally see their peak.
By Nov. 7, most of the state will be beyond its peak colors, while southern Illinois should be hitting its stride at that point.
While the science of predicting fall leaf color changes is inexact, there are several factors that could lead to a later-than-usual fall peak in the state. That includes a drier-than-normal stretch of weather, as well as a warmer-than-normal start to fall, which is being predicted by the National Weather Service.
Illinois’ fall color report will be updated as the season progresses, and residents are encouraged to check frequently for the latest updates on when fall colors will be at their most majestic.
The state also includes information on some of the best locations in the state to see the fall foliage, including at Starved Rock State Park.
Farmer's Almanac named Pere Marquette State Park in west central Illinois as the eighth best place in the U.S. to check out fall foliage.
As a self-described "nature-lover's paradise," the park will offer sights of the turning leaves against a backdrop of wooded ravines and roadways alongside the Illinois River. Explorers also can take advantage of the land's towering bluffs, which will provide a panoramic view of the lush scenery that engulfs the park's 12-mile trail.