Montgomery, AL– An interactive map on the Alabama Tourism Department’s website allows visitors to see the predicted fall color change for each weekend this fall. The map, a list of recommended viewing sites and a fall colors driving route are all available on the state tourism website at www.alabama.travel.
Large concentrations of hardwoods make Alabama State Parks some of the best places to enjoy the fall color change. Joe Wheeler has an excellent viewing spot next to the dam and near the cabin area on the Lawrence County side. Autumn scenery can be found at DeSoto State Park at Little River Canyon and DeSoto Falls. Monte Sano has views of the Tennessee Valley along the Warpath Ridge Trail and its overlook. Cheaha’s Bald Rock and Pulpit Rock trails both have excellent views. Cheaha is the highest point in the state at 2,407 feet above sea level.
With cooler days and lower humidity, autumn hosts a variety of outdoor festivals. Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department, recommends several events designed around being outdoors and enjoying the fall weather.
Outdoor events scheduled for this fall include the North Alabama Scottish Festival & Highland Games in Scottsboro on Oct. 5-7 featuring bagpipes, sports competitions and all things Scottish. Cullman’s Oktoberfest celebrates the city’s German heritage with food, music, and arts on Oct. 6-13. The National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores on Oct. 11-14 is one of the nation’s premier outdoor festivals with fine art, arts & crafts, and plenty of shrimp. Huntsville’s Old Town Walking Tour on Oct. 13 leads visitors on a tour of the city’s Victorian neighborhood.
Break’n Bread in Birmingham on Oct. 14 features signature dish tastings from nearly 40 local restaurants. The city of Mentone celebrates its annual Colorfest on Oct. 20-21 with a weekend of arts & crafts, family activities, and live entertainment. The Kentuck Festival of the Arts in Northport on Oct. 20-21 has gained national recognition for its wide variety of artists. The Alabama Renaissance Fair in Florence on Oct. 27-28 transforms the city’s downtown park into a medieval experience.
The National Peanut Festival in Dothan on Nov. 2-10 celebrates the harvest season and is the nation’s largest peanut festival. The Pike Road Arts and Crafts Festival in the city of Pike Road on Nov. 3 features an arts and crafts market on the grounds of the historic 19th century Marks House. Cane Syrup Makin’ Day at Rikard’s Mill in Beatrice on Nov. 3 lets visitors observe an old fashioned mule-driven cane mill at work. Alabama Frontier Days in Wetumpka on Nov. 7-11 features reenactments from French Colonial times to the Early American period. The Galaxy of Lights driving tour at the Huntsville Botanical Garden is Nov. 22-Dec. 31. Christmas on the River in Demopolis celebrates its 40th year with a lighted boat parade down the Tombigbee River, candlelight tours of antebellum homes, and a championship BBQ cook-off on Nov. 29-Dec.2.
A complete list of fall events is available at www.alabama.travel.
The Science of Fall
Several different factors go into producing Alabama’s wonderful fall colors. During the summer, leaves are given their green color by the chemical chlorophyll that the tree sends its leaves in order to conduct photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which trees take in sunlight and convert it into chemical energy while releasing oxygen. The shorter days and cooler temperatures of fall reduce the amount of chlorophyll the tree sends to its leaves. Since the chlorophyll is less and less in the leaves, the leaves begin turning from green to hues of yellow and orange.
The vibrancy and variation of leaf color is determined by how much sugar is “trapped” in the leaf. The tree produces sugar during the warm afternoon, but it becomes trapped in the leaf when the night turns cool. The more sugar a leaf has trapped in it, the brighter its color will be and the more variations you will see of reds, bright oranges, and purples. The best colors result when there are sunny fall days, cool nights, and enough rainfall to keep the leaves from falling too soon.