Aspen trees and underbrush show off brilliant fall colors near the Wyoming/Idaho border. (Timothy Mayo)

Whether lining riverbanks, tucked into high gullies, hugging embankments or dotting town streets, Wyoming’s leafy denizens are putting on a spectacular show as autumn unfolds. 

Though deciduous species like cottonwood, aspens or willows may appear more vivid now than any other time of the year, the changing of the leaves actually signifies a death of sorts as trees prepare to shut down for winter.

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Shorter days and colder temperatures prompt leaves to halt their food-making process. As the chlorophyll breaks down, the green color drains out, leaving behind glowing yellows, brilliant oranges and deep burgundies that create splendiferous scenes like this one, which photographer Timothy Mayo captured near the Wyoming/Idaho border. 

Leafy trees and bushes concurrently prepare to shed their leaves and seal off for the long winter ahead. Which means this light show is fleeting. 

Katie Klingsporn reports on outdoor recreation, public lands, education and general news for WyoFile. She’s been a journalist and editor covering the American West for 20 years. Her freelance work has...

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