Fall in Northeast Minnesota is filled with beauty and excitement—nature, national parks, charming towns and, of course, spectacular fall colors. If you listen, you can hear it calling to you every year about this time. Whether you’re looking for a wilderness adventure, an exciting new city or just a quiet place to sit and think for a while, the "must views" below make the perfect destinations for the ultimate Minnesota fall getaway. Choose your favorites and create your own autumn adventure.
One of the most sought-after sites on the iconic North Shore is the new gondola at Lutsen Mountains. From the base of the mountain, the high-speed gondola whisks you high above the colorful treetops for unparalleled views of Lake Superior, where riders will be treated to a 100-plus-mile view across the great lake. For adventure seekers, get a taste of the Superior Hiking Trail by taking a 4.5-mile hike back to the base. This section of trail goes through the heart of the maple forest, which offers some of the most brilliant fall colors in the region.
School may be back in session, but you can’t beat the weather and fall colors in the beautiful north woods of Crane Lake. Come for the weekend and stay in a cozy lodge room. Hop in a canoe or kayak and enjoy it all without the hustle and bustle of peak season. Fall is a great time for a houseboat trip as well, with discounted rates and your pick of prime houseboat sites.
Fall is the best time to go ATVing in the Grand Rapids area, home to over 200 miles of designated trails, plus county and city roads that are open to ATV travel. This gives you access to over 2,000 miles of roads to ride. The trails are rated as easy, the designated trails are wooded, and you will find curves and hills to ride with beautiful vistas worth braking for. Along the routes, you will find access to gas stations, bars, restaurants and places to stay overnight. Come ride in Minnesota's nature.
Discover one of nature’s remarkable spectacles this fall at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve in Duluth. Each year, migrating raptors come to the area in impressive numbers: It's a birder’s paradise. The ridge also offers a fantastic view of Duluth’s fall foliage. Peak migration occurs from mid-September to late October.
Many roads in the Ely area offer visitors a scenic wilderness experience, but one of the prettiest drives is along Fernberg Road. This stretch of about 20 miles runs through the Superior National Forest to the literal “end of the road” at Lake One, an entry point to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The variety of aspen, birch, maple, ash, spruce and pine seemingly hug the road to create a corridor filled with color. Be sure to stop at the Fernberg Road Scenic Overlook for a fantastic view of marshy wetlands in all their autumn glory.
Mesabi Iron Range
Just outside the city of Virginia on the Mesabi Iron Range, the Laurentian Divide splits the Superior National Forest, and the views are amazing! Visit Lookout Mountain via a series of walking trails and learn how the water here flows both north and south, to the Hudson Bay or the Gulf of Mexico. Picnic areas, a fitness trail and maps are available on-site at this year-round hiking destination.
Rainy Lake and Voyageurs National Park separate International Falls and Kettle Falls. The remote Kettle Falls Hotel can only be reached by boat, and the cruise through spectacular scenery, cool historic sites and fantastic fall colors make it a trip worth taking. There are National Park Service boat tours, or you can hire a qualified guide or boat there on your own.
On Lake Kabetogama, it has been said "Our walleyes are so big you can put a saddle on 'em." In addition to great fishing, the fall colors fill the untouched shorelines of beautiful Voyageurs National Park. The most popular picnic site on Kabetogama's north shore is the Ellsworth Rock Gardens. Currently being restored, the site's floral remnants and rock statuary combine with a dramatic view of the lake you won't want to miss. You'll need a boat or a water taxi to get to the rock gardens. If you need a ride, contact the Kabetogama Lake Association.
Adventure Seaplanes is a new attraction in Lake Vermilion this year, operating out of the Tower Airport. Take your kids on a magical seaplane trip or go out for a romantic ride over beautiful Lake Vermilion. With their high wings and large windows, these seaplanes offer amazing panoramic views and photo opps galore. While aboard, your pilot will point out various landmarks on Lake Vermilion as you cruise at a leisurely pace, giving you a view of Lake Vermilion like never before!
Ride your bike down a mountain, hike in Jay Cooke State Park, go up the shore on the Superior Hiking Trail, take the Willard Munger Trail and ATV for miles … all from Proctor, Minn. Trails for every activity and every skill level start right outside your door. And you are minutes from Lake Superior, Canal Park and the North Shore.
At the end of your day, come back to your hotel and relax with a Pampered in Proctor Package Deal.
Fall at Pelican Lake in Orr is something you won’t want to miss. Pelican Lake is known for its excellent fall fishing; try jigging for crappie and you won’t be disappointed. While you’re reeling them in, enjoy the golden scenes of autumn as the trees shed their summer green and take on the breathtaking beauty of orange and red splashed against a bright blue sky. There's nothing like the scenery and serenity that northern Minnesota offers in the fall, and Pelican Lake is the perfect place to take it all in.
Agate Bay in Two Harbors is a beautiful stop in all seasons, and fall is no exception! Wander the break wall out into the bay to watch one of the majestic 1,000-foot ore boats come into port. View the historic Edna G. Tugboat, the last coal-fired steam engine tug in service on the Great Lakes. Launch your boat, kayak or canoe for a cruise on Lake Superior, or try your hand at fishing from the pier. Tour the Two Harbors Lighthouse and its picturesque grounds, including the Assistant Keeper’s Quarters and the Frontenac Pilot House. Stroll the Sonju Trail and take in the autumn colors while enjoying scenic lake views, and stop at one of the trail’s many picnic spots along the way.
Discover more of beautiful Northeast Minnesota and plan your fall getaway.