Chase The Fall Colors In Minnesota-Explore Minnesota and Minnesota State Parks and Trails Launch Weekly Fall Color Report

By Deborah Locke

To celebrate the season, Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism promotion office, and Minnesota State Parks and Trails have teamed up to provide a weekly fall color report. From scenic drives to hiking, biking, fall festivals and more, Explore Minnesota and Minnesota State Parks and Trails offer trip-planning tips via email, mobile phone and social media to encourage travelers to get out and enjoy the state’s most colorful time of year.

“Scenic road trips, harvest season, festivals and outdoor recreation make fall the second-biggest travel season. Minnesota is a top destination to experience the fall colors at parks and trails across the state,” said Explore Minnesota Director John Edman. “With weekly statewide fall color reports, we’re able to help travelers make the most of this special season.”

State park staff throughout Minnesota assess the status of the trees, wildflowers and grasses in their area and update the online Fall Color Finder at mndnr.gov/fallcolor every Wednesday through the end of October. This popular tool (viewed nearly a half million times in 2017) includes a color-coded map showing the approximate percentage of leaves that have changed color as well as a slideshow of recent photos taken by park staff and visitors.

“Don’t waste time indoors,” said Erika Rivers, director of the Parks and Trails Division at the Minnesota DNR. “Grab your camera and get out hiking, biking or paddling before the short but spectacular fall color show is over at Minnesota state parks and trails.”

Minnesota State Parks and communities statewide have planned activities to coincide with peak fall color, and hundreds of festivals, fairs, food and heritage events all season long. More fall events can be found on the Minnesota State Parks and Trails calendar and at exploreminnesota.com/events.

2018 Fall Color Forecast, Science Behind Color Progression

“For most of Minnesota, this fall’s color display should be rich and beautiful,” said Val Cervenka, the forest health program consultant in the DNR’s Forestry Division. Cervenka, who provides the annual fall color forecast for the DNR, says decreasing day length and the onset of long, cool nights trigger the color change in leaves. Brilliant crimson and purple leaf colors are produced by warm, sunny days and chilly, but not frosty, nights. Yellow color, found in ash, aspen, basswood, birch, cottonwood and elm, can be early or short-lived due to drought conditions.

Peak Color Timeline  

The fall color show in Minnesota typically begins along the northern border in early to mid-September and the spreads southward through October. Colors can peak between mid-September and early October in northern Minnesota, between late September and early October in the central region, and between late September and mid-October in the southern third of the state (including the metro region). Peak fall color typically lasts about two weeks, but can vary widely depending on location, elevation and weather. Trees at higher elevations are the earliest to show color change.

Minnesota’s Rainbow Routes

Travelers are encouraged to hit the road for an unforgettable drive through a rainbow of colorful fall foliage in Minnesota these next several weeks. Minnesota’s scenic fall routes meander through a variety of landscapes: the lake-splashed north woods, tumbling waterfalls, grand bluffs towering above winding rivers, ribbons of prairie, and many state parks along the way. These 10 fall color drives include some well-known favorites, and some lesser-known gems with abundant autumn activities along the way.

Take A Hike!

There’s no hiking like fall hiking, and Explore Minnesota’s Hike MN campaign makes it even more enjoyable. With diverse Minnesota landscapes and brilliant foliage, a fall hike is a fun way to soak up the scenery. Hike MN highlights 10 trails, including five Minnesota State Parks and Recreation Areas, with varied terrain, length and difficulty. Enter the sweepstakes through October 21 for a chance to win getaway packages or gift cards from various Minnesota destinations.

Share Scenery On Social Media

Research shows people seek inspiration from their social networks. Tag your fall color photos and get real-time travel ideas this season using Explore Minnesota’s popular statewide travel hashtag #OnlyinMN and Minnesota State Parks and Trails’ hashtag #JustAddNature. Follow @exploreminn on Twitter for autumn travel ideas.

Get Weekly Updates

To get weekly email or text updates on where to find peak fall color, visit either mndnr.gov/fallcolor (888-646-6367) or exploreminnesota.com/fallcolor (888-VISITMN).

About Explore Minnesota
As the state’s tourism promotion office, Explore Minnesota works to inspire consumers and facilitate travel to and within Minnesota. Tourism is a $15.0 billion industry in Minnesota, a key sector of the state’s economy. Minnesota welcomes more than 70 million domestic and international travelers annually.

See what’s happening at exploreminnesota.com, and on social media @exploreminn on Twitter, or @exploreminnesota on Instagram and Facebook, using #OnlyinMN.

About Minnesota State Parks And Trails

The Parks and Trails Division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources seeks to create unforgettable park, trail, and water recreation experiences that inspire people to pass along the love for the outdoors to current and future generations. The Parks and Trails Division manages 75 state parks, 25 state trails and 35 state water trails along with fishing piers, public water access sites, state forest recreation areas, and more.

Fall color updates and other trip-planning information can be found at mndnr.gov/fallcolor, and on social media @mnstateparks on Twitter, or @mnstateparksandtrails on Facebook, using #JustAddNature.