Fall is upon us! The extravaganza of colors and soothing melancholy embraces the land of Minnesota and creates spectacular paintings. Hop in your car and follow the route that will take you through a rainbow of colorful fall foliage.
You can settle for a tour of the Twin Cities that welcome fall as happily as the next urban area in Minnesota or head to the wilderness. Discover where to escape to the fall in Minnesota and witness the beauty and romance of a much-beloved season.
The North Shore of Lake Superior
The leaves receive the gentle touch of fall as soon as mid-September arrives in the area. By early October, the North Shore will be dressed from head to toes in fall clothes, ready to extract awws and wows from dazzled visitors. And you couldn’t expect anything less from the largest Great Lake in America. Combine the spectacular fall colors with the breathtaking lake views, and you’ve got yourself the perfect destination for leaf peepers.
Expect to find yellow aspen and birch lining the shoreline and the fabulous scarlet maples contemplating their beauty along the forest roads. You can stay at Grand Marais or Duluth and follow the North Shore Scenic Byway on Highway 61 for the best views. Stop at Two Harbors for great pie and hike your way into the Gooseberry Falls State Park.
Lake of the Woods
Come September and the Zippel Bay State Park that decorates the shorelines of Lake of the Woods will get all dressed up and lure travelers with gorgeous fall colors. The area is heaven on earth for fall lovers. Adorned with whimsical forests and sandy beaches and offering superb views, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the atmosphere here. Head to Beltrami Island State Forest for more foliage or drive along the Rapid River Forest Road. You can camp in the parks or book accommodation at one of the resorts in the area. Don’t miss a visit to Baudette, the walleye capital of the world, and take your time when you’re heading south to discover all that the Pine Island State Forest has to offer.
Lake Mille Lacs
Known for its 100-foot observation tower, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park is a fabulous fall destination. Put on your hiking boots and climb your way up to the top for some of the most picturesque fall views you’ve ever seen! The lake is huge with 68 miles of shoreline, so drive around the Lake Mille Lacs Scenic Byway if you want to capture all its fall splendor. More luscious colors await along the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, especially around the Whitefish Chain of Lakes. If you’re in the mood for cycling, you’ll find plenty of local biking trails opening the path towards superb fall experiences.
St. Croix River Valley
The valley of St. Croix River encapsulates 164 miles of amazing views. Winding through wooded hillsides and cliffs, the river creates a wonderful fall painting framed by lovely river views. Take to the trails of Wild River and William O’Brien parks, and stop for a while in the charming towns of Stillwater, Afton, and Taylors Falls.
Whether you are on the Minnesota or Wisconsin side of the river, you will encounter superb fall foliage and plenty of opportunities for great photos. What to capture all that fall has to offer? Visit from late September to early October! Since the fall beauty of these parts is quite popular, it’s best to visit during the week to avoid weekend traffic.
Mississippi River Valley
A tour of Minnesota would never be complete without some views of the Mississippi River Valley. Every season has its own charm in the valley, but there is no scenery like the one fall invites over especially mid-October. The colorful route unveils many beautiful wooded bluffs, as well as charming river towns, all dressed in shades of red, gold, and russet.
If you won’t settle with what you’re seeing along the route, you can always head to the trails of Great River Bluffs parks and immerse yourself in the heart of the forests. Bright hues and an abundance of birds, including eagles and hawks, will welcome you every step of the way. You can easily find a camping spot in the park or set your base in the charming town of Winona.