TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida may not be the state most often associated with fall foliage, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be seen here, too.
In Florida, the leaves typically begin to change in mid-to-late October but may come as late as mid-November. Most associate the changing colors with cooler temperatures. In reality, the shorter days and longer nights are responsible for triggering a biochemical process in the leaf.
During the summer, chlorophyll — which is necessary for photosynthesis — is continually produced and broken down giving leaves their green appearance. As the days grow shorter in the autumn, chlorophyll production slows to a stop. Eventually, all the chlorophyll is destroyed leaving behind nature’s vibrant autumnal palette.
So where should you go to find the fall colors in Florida?
Generally speaking, the further north you travel, the better the fall colors will be.
Torreya State Park — This 13,735-acre state park is located in the Florida Panhandle along the Apalachicola River. The park, which is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset, is named after the Torreya tree, the world’s rarest evergreen.
Three Rivers State Park — This Florida State Park located on the shores of Lake Seminole near the Georgia border is open 24 hours a day. It’s 686-acres offer visitors activities including hiking, fishing, and boating.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park — Take a step back in time at this 6,000-acre wildlife sanctuary in Wakulla County. The park is about 30 minutes south of Tallahassee and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Suwannee River — This 1,800-acre park located in Live Oak is open year-round. The park features sinks, streams, springs, and limestone outcroppings. The park also has Civil War-era constructions along the riverbank.
Flying Eagle Preserve — Explore this 10,950-acre forest and wetland preserve in Inverness. It’s located on the Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes and is bordered by the Withlacoochee River. The preserve is a mix of small lakes, marshes, and swamps, with scattered islands of forest.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, temperature and moisture are the main contributors to the best fall colors.
“A succession of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp but not freezing nights seems to bring about the most spectacular color displays,” the service said.
Click here for an interactive 2023 fall foliage prediction map.