A mild summer bolstered by ample rain has laid the groundwork for a splendid autumn show in Arkansas. While the summer has delivered healthy, green trees for the season, the weather in September and October will determine when the leaves will change and how colorful the foliage will become. Reports on the progress of fall color in The Natural State are now available on the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism's Web site: www.Arkansas.com.
A statewide network of 40 spotters files weekly reports on the status of the leaves in their area. The reports are compiled and then posted on www.Arkansas.com and are available to the public by 5 p.m. each Thursday. Just click on the colorful fall leaf icon to find out the latest. The updates are also available by calling 1-800-NATURAL which is answered live 24 hours a day, or (501) 682-7777 during normal business hours.
Two new national scenic byways in eastern Arkansas provide access to the beauty of fall along Crowley's Ridge and through the St. Francis National Forest. The Great River Road National Scenic Byway and Crowley's Ridge National Scenic Byway venture through some of the most historic and interesting areas of the state. The St. Francis National Forest covers over 20,000 acres and has a variety of some of the finest bottomland hardwoods in the country. These woodlands provide the striking fall color that makes Arkansas a popular autumn destination.
A series of state and national scenic highways in the Ozarks and Ouachitas provides for eye-catching views as well. Scenic 7 Byway, one of the most well-known drives in Arkansas, provides viewing opportunities for both the Ozarks and the Ouachitas. Interstate 540 from Alma north through Fayetteville, Springdale and Rogers, is also quite beautiful. Ozark mountain color is also displayed along Ark. 16, 9, 23 and 21. In the Ouachitas, the Talimena Scenic Byway, U.S. 70, 71 and 270, plus Ark. 10 and 27 are good routes for scenic beauty.
According to Eddie Fugatt, assistant research director for the department who is in charge of the spotters network, this fall has the potential to be quite colorful in Arkansas. "Weather conditions from mid-September to mid-to-late October are what give us bright color. Ideal conditions are lots of sunny days with highs in the 60s to low 70s, followed by crisp nights with temps in the 35-40 degree range. The abundant rainfall earlier in the summer, and moderate temperatures will result in more hardwoods entering the fall in a green, healthy state," Fugatt said.
To get a free Arkansas Vacation Planning Kit, visit www.arkansas.com/vacation_kit/. or call 1-800-NATURAL.