Fall at Cedar Pond Park in Eagan; photo by Keith Reierson
[Southern] [TwinCities] [Central] [Northwest] [Northeast]
This fall color season should be spectacular due to the abundant rainfall early this summer. If the weather remains mostly sunny during the day and cool at night, conditions will be perfect for a stunning fall color display!
Peak fall color typically arrives in the northern one-third of the state in mid-September to early October. The central third of the state is most colorful between late September and early October. Southern Minnesota trees reach the height of their fall color late September to mid-October. One exception is the North Shore of Lake Superior, where peak fall color arrives about a week later than inland areas due to the warming effect of the lake.
Please note that fall color can change rapidly due to wind, rain and frost, and drought conditions can alter the timing and intensity of fall color. This report will be updated each Thursday afternoon during the fall color season, with additional updates as conditions warrant. This report is brought to you by Explore Minnesota Tourism, with much of the information provided courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Peak fall color will develop rapidly and lodging often fills up fast. Be sure to plan ahead to make the most of your fall color getaway! For a customized travel planner for your next Minnesota getaway, please call one of our travel counselors at 888-TOURISM (888-868-7476), or request your planner at Contact a Travel Counselor. Subscribe here to receive any or all of our reports by email.
Most of northeast Minnesota remains green, however a few areas are now displaying color in 10-25 percent of the trees and shrubs, including those at Franz Jevne and Bear Head Lake state parks. Colorful grasses and blooming wildflowers are visible at Gooseberry Falls State Park.
Franz Jevne State Park--Birchdale, east of International Falls
Some of the trees are displaying bright yellow leaves, and the native grasses are turning rust and gold. The trail along the Rainy River, from the picnic area to hike-in site #15, is ideal for viewing the emerging fall color.
Bear Head Lake State Park--Ely
Park staff report a 10-25 percent change in the trees and grasses. While most trees remain deep green, some golden leaves are emerging in the balsam poplars, and the spreading dogbane is adding yellow to the forest floor. The Norberg Trail offers beautiful overlooks of several lakes and great views of the initial transformation.
Gooseberry Falls State Park--Two Harbors
While few trees have begun turning their customary fall hues, the asters and goldenrod are brightening the park with colorful blooms. The Fifth Falls Trail is ideal for views of the emerging fall color and the rushing waterfalls of the Gooseberry River. Also watch for the many migratory birds along Lake Superior on their long journey south. Look for warblers, nighthawks, sharp-shinned and broad-winged hawks, and monarch butterflies too! And don't miss Hawk Ridge Weekend at nearby Hawk Ridge in Duluth, Sept. 18-20.
While most trees and shrubs in the northwest region of the state remain unchanged, a few of the state parks are reporting a 10-25 change in their trees and shrubs, including Zippel Bay, Hayes Lake and Buffalo River state parks. While little change is noted in the trees, Itasca State Park offers stunning views of colorful wildflowers and grasses.
Zipple Bay State Park--Williams, northwest of Baudette
The birch trees are rapidly changing color, adding nice yellow accents to the canopy. Aquatic grasses, ferns, asters and goldenrod are also contributing to the colorful display. Watch for the many migratory birds stopping to rest at the park.
Hayes Lake State Park--Roseau
Most trees remain green, but a faint tinge of yellow is appearing along the leaf edges. Consider a canoe or kayak trip to view fall color from a different perspective -- bring your own or rent one at the park office.
Itasca State Park--north of Park Rapids
Hints of color are appearing throughout the park. The subtle color changes can be seen along Main Park Drive and the hiking trails, especially those that follow the lakes and wetlands. Look for gold and soft orange tones developing in the trees and shrubs, colorful blooms in the wildflowers, and vibrant berries in a variety of plants. More than 15 species of asters grace the park with bright white to deep purple flowers.
Buffalo River State Park--Moorhead
While some of the trees are displaying fall color, the majority of color can be found in the prairie plants and flowers. Buffalo River State Park also offers a chance to experience one of Minnesota's finest and largest remnant prairies. Be sure to hike to the overlook on the south side of the River View Trail for wonderful views of the Buffalo River below.
Most areas of central Minnesota remain primarily green, however, stunning fall color can be found in the gold, maroon and amber prairie grasses at Maplewood State Park. To view a variety of blooming wildflowers, head to Sibley State Park.
Maplewood State Park--Pelican Rapids
The prairies are filled with rich gold, deep maroon, and vibrant amber grasses. These warm tones compliment the lingering deep greens of the leaves. Visitors will enjoy the many miles of hiking trails, as well as the 4.5-mile Scenic Park Drive which winds through prairies, hardwood forests, and past many lakes and ponds.
Sibley State Park--north of Willmar
The sights and sounds of autumn are intensifying at Sibley. Birds such as pelicans and great blue herons are gathering for migration, and the colorful big bluestem grasses fill the prairies with rich, warm autumn tones. A walk along the Pond View Trail will take you past a variety of wildflowers including closed gentian and blazing star.
Twin Cities Metropolitan Vicinity
While the majority of Twin Cities parks remain mostly green, abundant wildflowers and colorful gold, rust and maroon prairie grasses can be seen at Lake Maria State Park and the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. And many parks within the Three Rivers Park District have colorful trees popping against the backdrop of the deep green forests.
Lake Maria State Park--Monticello, northwest of Buffalo
Park staff report very little change in the park foliage, yet the prairie grasses range from gold to rusty red, and goldenrod and asters dot the prairies with yellow and purple blooms. Hawks and songbirds are migrating through the park, and trumpeter swans and waterfowl can be seen at the lakes and wetlands.
Three Rivers Park District--Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Scott & Wright counties
Fall color remains sparse in most of the Three Rivers parks. However, some ash and aspen are turning shades of yellow, a few scattered maples have gold or crimson branches, and some vibrant red sumac can be seen at the forest edges.
Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area--Chaska/Shakopee/Jordan
Nice fall color is visible in the bright red sumac, beautiful yellow goldenrod, and many other wildflower species. The initial fall color can best be viewed by taking a short hike along the trail that leads you around the prairie and near the historic Strait House, and through the horse campground. Keep your eye out for wild turkeys.
While most southern Minnesota foliage remains unchanged, beautiful wildflowers and natural grasses are lovely at many parks in this region including Nerstrand Big Woods, Forestville and Camden state parks.
Nerstrand Big Woods State Park--Nerstrand, south of Northfield
Blooming wildflowers have brightened the landscape with beautiful blooms. Some of the most lovely blooms can be found in the woodland sunflowers, blazing star, and various asters. The Prairie Trail on the southern edge of the park is a great choice to see these multi-colored flowers up close.
Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park--Preston
The old townsite prairie is full of golden grasses mixed with vibrant prairie flowers. The asters are filled with white, lavender and deep purple blooms, and the goldenrod and sunflowers add bright yellow to the landscape. Be sure to also check out the tours of Historic Forestville offered each Saturday through the end of October, as well as the Mystery Cave tours offered each Saturday and Sunday through the end of October -- an additional tour has been added each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday through October 2.
Camden State Park--south of Marshall
Park staff report a 10-25 percent change in some of the trees. Fall color can be observed in the green ash and cottonwoods, along with some maples. Camden is probably the most westerly example of a naturally-occurring sugar maple/basswood forest in the state, and possibly the country. The Redwood River valley within the park is a great place to catch spectacular maple color in the fall. In the prairies, many wildflowers are in full bloom including sunflowers, asters, goldenrod and an occasional gentian. The native grasses are also very colorful. The most dramatic color can be found on the west side of the park.