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Thanks to robust monsoon, Southwest Colorado can expect vibrant fall colors this year

Peak season expected to occur from mid-September through mid-October
As the aspen turn their golden fall colors, the 13,232-foot Hesperus Mountain stands white with snow. (The Journal file)

Slowly but surely, green is melting into gold as summer gives way to fall – and Southwest Colorado will be privy to some of the best displays in the state.

The Four Corners can expect “particularly better” fall foliage this year in comparison with last year, according to AccuWeather’s 2021 fall foliage forecast, released Wednesday.

The North American monsoon was more active this year than last, and the moisture it brought to the Southwest will translate into rich hues that grace the leaves of trees – particularly aspens, the forecast said.

The green leaves of aspen trees are known for glowing golden shades in the fall, with the normal peak occurring from mid-September through mid-October, AccuWeather reported.

Horses graze in a pasture along the Dolores River in front of a stand of aspen trees in their fall colors. (The Journal file)

The Rocky Mountains are divided this year, with the Four Corners falling into the half that will be tinged with more striking fall tones, it said.

The northern Rockies experienced less rainfall and more drought, likely leading to dimmer landscapes and early leaf drop, the report predicted.

Locally, the first flushes of autumn are seeping into the scenery from Molas Pass to Silverton, according to this year’s San Juan National Forest Fall Color Report.

Although leaves are in the very early stages of seasonal transition, the region so far has an estimated 1% color change.

Green aspen leaves in the area are specked with tiny shimmers of yellow, it says.

An interactive map from Smoky Mountains National Park allows users to toggle between dates to see levels of projected fall foliage.

In the first part of fall, the Rockies will see ongoing hot and dry conditions. An Aug. 10 AccuWeather report predicts that a swift switch in seasons may occur in October – although snow may dwindle in November before picking back up.

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