Don’t Miss The Show On These Minnesota State Forest Fall Color Drives

By Amelie Hyams



Minnesota’s state forests offer scenic drives and 4.2 million acres showcasing one of the biggest nature shows each year – the fall color display.

“Overall, fall colors this year should be especially lovely if the recent sunny days and chilly, but not freezing, nights continue,” said Val Cervenka, forest health program consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Every fall color season is different and so is each of Minnesota’s 59 state forests. Depending on the forest, visitors might see a spectacular mix of dark evergreens amid vivid autumn hues of maples, oaks and aspens, set against a backdrop of bluffs, lakes or winding rivers.

These drives are always a treat, but this year in particular they are a wonderful, socially-distanced opportunity for Minnesotans to experience the outdoors.

Here is a list of five forest drives to consider this fall – including suggestions for things to see and do along the way. Visit the state forest scenic drives website at for route directions and more details.

Mid-late September

  • Smoky Hills State Forest in the northwest.
  • Bear Island State Forest in the northeast.

Early October

  • Rum River State Forest in central Minnesota.
  • Croix State Forest and Nemadji State Forest loop in central Minnesota.


  • Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest in the south.

Check out the state forests website at to plan a visit. Entrance into state forests is free. State forest campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis for $14 a night. Dispersed camping is also allowed in state forests at no cost.

Use the DNR’s Fall Color Finder at to find areas in Minnesota with peak fall color. The color finder is updated weekly through October.

Images courtesy of the Minnesota DNR.

Emily State Forest credit MN DNR

Verified by MonsterInsights