Fabulous Fall Foliage

By MNR News posted 09-29-2022 09:44

Some of the best places to see Fall colors in Minnesota
Fall in Minnesota—there’s nothing quite like it. Wedged between the end of summer and the onset of winter, Minnesota’s brief autumn is a wonderful time of year. As the temperature drops and the days shorten, our state’s trees undergo a colorful transition. Minnesota’s Fall colors are a beauty to behold. We’ve compiled a short list of some of the best places to enjoy the Fall foliage—we hope this will help you get out and enjoy the natural beauty throughout our state.

North Shore

The shores of the best Great Lake—yes, that’s indisputably Lake Superior—offer spectacular Fall colors during late September/early October. Explore just about any of the nature trails as you head north on Highway 61 from Duluth—whether it be Gooseberry Falls in Two Harbors or Tettegouche State Park in Silver Bay. Northern Minnesota’s rugged North Shore does not disappoint this time of year.

Banning State Park

Located just north of Hinckley in Sandstone, MN, Banning State Park offers Fall color views that are second to none. Whether you want to camp or simply hike for the day, there are miles of trails to explore. Plus you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the Kettle River, which runs the length of the park.

Edge of the Wilderness National Scenic Byway

Start in Grand Rapids and head north 47 miles just past Big Fork, a drive that offers Fall foliage views that will leave you in awe. Stop off along the way at various parks in the Chippewa National Forest to take in the stunning natural landscape. This scenic drive is unlike any other.

Red Wing, MN

Nestled beneath rolling bluffs along the Mississippi River about an hour’s drive south of the Twin Cities, Red Wing is a rare small town that offers historical landmarks, Midwest charm, and stunning views of autumn colors. Lace up your new pair of Red Wing boots and take a hike up to Barn Bluff, which provides panoramic views of the city and landscape below. The fall colors will peak here in early to mid-October.

Crosby Farm Regional Park

This natural gem, located near the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul, is the perfect place to take in fall weather. After lunch at one of the park’s designated picnic areas, stroll along the Mississippi River shoreline and beneath canopies of glowing red and orange leaves on miles of paved trails. Colors should peak in Crosby Farm Regional Park around mid-October this year.

University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Tucked in the rolling hills on the southwestern edge of the metro, the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum offers a splendid palette of fall colors. Miles of walking trails wind through splendid gardens and wooded landscapes. If you’re feeling competitive, set those colors running by signing up for a 1K, 5K or 10K race on October 7 – 9. You can also experience the many hues of autumn from the comfort of your car along the Arboretum’s famous Three-Mile Drive. Ready for a little Halloween? Starting on October 1, the Arboretum gardens will pop with hundreds of pumpkins in creative displays. When your done with your tour, head over to the “Arb’s” Apple House for fresh-picked apples, pumpkin pies, cider, slushies, and mini donuts! Allow extra time when you plan your Arboretum visit because there are long lines of traffic at the entrance—especially on weekends.

Minnesota River Bluff Tour

Looking for 10 minutes of leafy bliss? Check out the fall colors on the bluffs of the Minnesota River valley along Flying Cloud Drive. The eight-mile stretch spans just east of Chaska at the juncture of Audubon Road and winds along the river to Flying Cloud Airport. You’ll pass the Seminary Fen Scientific and Natural Area, a prairie preserve with hiking trails (bring your waterproof hiking boots and bug spray); the Upgrala Unit National Wildlife Refuge, a great access point for biking along the river; and finally the Prairie Bluff Conservation Area, which offers trails with stunning views of the river valley. When you’re done, head over to the Lion’s Tap for craft brews and the best burgers in the west metro. Or cross the river and enjoy vibrant bluff views from the patio of O’Brien’s Public House in Shakopee.

St. Croix Valley

If you take Hwy 8 into Taylor’s Falls, MN, the bucolic countryside gives way to forest as you start winding your way downhill into the Valley. In the fall, there are few things as beautifully awe-inspiring as the forest greenery being awash in reds, oranges, and yellows. At the bottom of the hill you arrive at Taylor’s Falls and the St Croix River. Hiking, rock climbing, biking, paddling (as in rowing your own boat, or climbing aboard a vintage paddleboat) are all ways to enjoy the area and the fall colors. Interstate State Park has some of the best camping through most of October, and don’t forget to check out the world-famous glacial potholes while enjoying the brilliant fall foliage.

Check out this Fall Color Finder from the Minnesota DNR.