Autumn in the Ozarks

Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks is one of best U.S. destinations for fall color.

Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks recently was voted the second best “Destination for Fall Foliage” in America, according to a recent USA Today readers’ poll.

The survey ( asked USA Today readers from across the country to choose the top spot for viewing fall colors. The Lake of the Ozarks finished just behind Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but topped other destinations, including Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, Wisconsin’s Door County, and New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Tim Jacobsen, executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau, said visitors return every year to see fall colors.

“The majority of our fall visitors come from Missouri, but we get a lot from all over the Midwest and the West Coast because they don’t get to experience fall like we do here," he said.

The peak of fall color usually occurs in mid- to late-October when maple, ash, oak, and hickory trees turn red, orange, and yellow. However, this year, the season is running a week or so behind due to dryer conditions.

For more information about visiting Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, visit your nearest AAA full-service office or call Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) FUN-LAKE (386-5253)

lake aerial
With 1,150 miles of shoreline, much of Lake of the Ozarks is lined with hardwood forest that turn vibrant red, orange, and yellow in autumn. The lake was created in 1931 when Bagnell Dam was completed. Photo courtesy
A variety of wildlife, including deer, can be viewed at Lake of the Ozarks. Two state parks are located in the area.  A young deer is seen in the forest at Ha Ha Tonka State Park. (Photo courtesy
As you’d expect, anglers love Lake of the Ozarks. While you can fish year-round here, many come to the lake in October and November for bass. In central Missouri, day temperatures can still reach into the 70s as late as November. (Photo courtesy
Bear Creek
Bear Creek Valley Golf Club is in full fall color. Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail features 13 championship courses to play. (Photo courtesy
state park
In autumn, there’s a postcard-perfect vista at the Lake of the Ozarks almost at every turn. Visitors to Ha Ha Tonka State Park have plenty of recreation options. An overlook near the stone ruins of a hotel that once resembled a European castle provides outstanding views of the lake and fall color. USA Today readers voted this among the best state parks in the country. (Photo courtesy