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Northern fall foliage, revealed

Fall comes and goes quickly in the North, and it can be difficult to predict how much time we have between the leaves turning and the snow flying. Its brevity makes it a special time, as the bustle of summer has slowed down and we still get to enjoy late sunsets and mild temperatures. It’s a favorite time of year for many because of how gorgeous the area becomes when what was once greenery turns to bright yellow and deep red splashed across a mountainous backdrop. Explore Alaska’s stunning fall colors, complete with key descriptions of the trees behind the stunning colors you’re enjoying.

The birch tree is easily recognizable with its iconic white, papery bark marked by dark furrows and knots. The tree is found across Alaska and into the Yukon and positively lights up the surrounding nature with yellow and orange colors in the fall.

Quaking aspen trees are similar in appearance to birch, although from an entirely different family with thinner trunks and greenery concentrated toward the top of the tree. They’re called “quaking” aspen because even a soft change in the wind sends flutters through the leaves, making it appear as if the entire tree is shaking. Its bark is bright white with black marks and the autumn season brings a bright yellow hue to its leaves.

Alder can grow extremely well on rocky mountainsides and otherwise deforested areas, making it a hardy tree truly worthy of the Yukon and Alaska life. Its bark is grey, can often be found covered in lichen and its leaves are small and round with a fanned appearance. This is another tree that sports a brilliant yellow color in the fall.

Black cottonwood, found across Alaska and the Yukon, is a member of the willow family and could be the cause of some sneezing in the summer months when its cotton goes to seed and flies around like an off-season snowstorm. You’ll be in the clear during the fall, however, and can focus on enjoying the stunning yellow leaves. Recognize the black cottonwood by its dark-colored bark, wide trunk and oval and heart-shaped leaves.

Take it from us; we think fall is a fantastic time to visit these northern areas. Even on the most beautiful day in the middle of the summer, it’s hard to beat a road trip on one of the many scenic highways on a crisp and colorful autumn afternoon.

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