Online Tool Helps Leaf Watchers Catch Peak Colors

(Douglas County, MO) -- Summer ends this week and with that comes eager anticipation of fall colors.
The U.S. Forest Service is releasing a new online feature that helps people find the best sites.
But how do the hues impact the Ozarks economy? After all, the change in seasons brings a change in color -- and tourists.

"We get a lot of traffic," says resident Margaret Rosseau.

It all gets going with the Glade Top Trail Review.

"People come from all over to soak in the scenery," says Judy Shields with the Ava Chamber of Commerce.

"People have one thing on their mind: the pretty colors," says Rosseau.

Decades ago, the event drew thousands, but the economy and the environment have affected that over the past few years.

"It's going to be better than last year, but not like they should be," says Rosseau.

Experts say the peak of fall colors comes in late October, but theories on what makes those colors perfect are as varied as the amazing views.

"Some people say there's not enough rain, or it's too hot, or the leaves are already falling in their yards, but we never know until it gets here," says Shields.

Whether colors are bright -- or a burnout -- locals believe tourists who make the trip will still enjoy the trail.

"We have a beautiful part of the country down here," says Rosseau.

The annual Glade Top Trail Fall Festival is October 16, 2011.
Organizers have food, entertainment, and vendors lined up for the event. And they're counting on fall colors, too.

Click here for the U.S. Forest Service's color map. We're told it's hard to predict right now, and really comes down to a professional guess.

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