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Escape to best places for fall foliage & wildlife

Enjoy nature’s fall foliage display on hiking trails, driving tours or even a vintage train ride adventure in the Midwest and beyond.

In Missouri, find the best locations for catching the brilliant colors of fall maples, oaks, hickory and ash trees in the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Fall Colors: Latest Reports & Best Places. Conservationists are monitoring and updating tree color by region, listing fall color hot spots and the best roadside displays through November. This week, they suggest a drive on MO 45 and MO 224 along the Missouri River near Kansas City. For hiking and photography, they suggest Big Buffalo Creek, Burr Oak Woods, White Alloe Creek Conservation Areas and Swope Memorial in Swope Park. Near St. Louis, they suggest a trip north to Logan Conservation Area or west to Daniel Boone Conservation Area.

For a unique, fall train tour in a 1920’s vintage Pullman coach, 1940’s restored cupola caboose or 1950’s vintage parlor car, check out the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad passenger train service through the Arkansas River Valley and the Boston and Ozark Mountains.

Fall is also a great time to view wildlife in natural areas. Self-guided elk driving tours in Missouri can be found at the Peck Ranch Conservation Area near Winona in Shannon County and the Current River Conservation Area south of Ellington. Maps are available at Missouri Department of Conservation. The best viewing times are near sunrise and sunset when the elk are looking for food and water. Some areas are closed in late October for hunting days.

Additionally, Visit Missouri highlights the top 10 state parks to visit during the fall. Besides colorful foliage, visitors will find camping, hiking, bicycling trails and fishing at many of these sites at Weston Bend, Big Lake, Castlewood, Graham Cave, Onondaga Cave, Lake Wappapello, Elephant Rocks, Taum Sauk Mountain, Prairie and Ha Ha Tonka state parks.

Experience Kansas estimates fall color will gear up around October 24 with peak color during the week of November 7. It lists these top 10 picks for a fall foliage, tallgrass prairies and sightings of mule deer, coyotes and black-tailed prairie dogs: Glacial Hills, Chautauqua Hills, Gypsum Hills, Badlands, Flint Hills, Native Stone Scenic Byway, Prairie Trail, Arikaree Breaks, Cimarron Grasslands and Frontier Military Historic Byway.

For a nationwide listing of fall foliage driving tours, check out Road Trip USA or the U.S. Forest Service for its Fall Foliage Prediction Map.

Photo: Arkansas & Missouri Railroad

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