DNR predicts ‘brilliant’ fall colors in upcoming weeks
During the next seven or eight weeks, waves of fall color will roll across Minnesota’s forests and prairies, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division encourages families to get out and enjoy them.
The statewide fall color report is updated every Thursday by staff at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. These reports include percent of color change, peak color projections and three state park or trail destinations considered “hot picks” of the week.
“We’re predicting it will be a brilliant fall color season,” said Patricia Arndt, communications and outreach manager for the DNR’s Division of Parks and Trails. “Although it’s been dry lately, the trees got adequate rain earlier this season. Now we just need a combination of sunny days and cool nights in the weeks ahead to bring out the fall colors. We’ve timed many of our fall hiking, biking, geocaching and paddling programs at Minnesota state parks and trails to coincide with peak color, and we hope to see lots of people getting outdoors to enjoy this beautiful time of year.”
At Itasca State Park, fall colors are progressing slowly, but visitors can still enjoy the mix of late summer flowers throughout the park. View large-leaf asters in the big pine stands along Bohall, Nicollet and Mary Lake trails. Touring along any lakeshore will reveal orange spotted touch-me-nots, fuschia colored Joe pye-weed and a variety of sunflowers. The rich yellows of golden rods can be seen along Deer Park, Ozawindib and Aiton Heights trails.
Wild rice is beginning to ripen along the shoreline of Lake Itasca. View Minnesota’s state grain at the Headwaters of the Mississippi River and on the fishing pier below Douglas Lodge.
Leaves are just beginning to hint at the autumn leaf change. Singular red maples are beginning to show hints of red. Random black ash are beginning to soften their green color, showing hints of gold.
Maple/basswood and ash typically change the last two weeks of September. Oak/birch and aspen typically change the last week of September.
Also, animals can be seen throughout the park. Salamanders are on the move. Young painted turtles are being seen. Hummingbirds are still busy at the feeders. Turkeys are being seen along roadside ditches around the park. Beaver are attempting to stop-up the headwaters with sticks in preparation for winter. Raccoons are moving into oak stands to feast on the falling acorns. Nighthawks are feeding at twilight on insects. Loons continue to call from the lakes. Color change is being seen in some of the dogwood species. Bracken ferns are turning gold.
Colors typically peak between mid-September and early October in the northern third of the state, between late September and early October in the central third and between late September and mid-October in the southern third.
Fall color programs are listed in the free “Feel the ‘Wow’ of Fall” brochure at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. The DNR Information Center will also mail the brochure to anyone who requests it.
In addition to its weekly online reports, the DNR offers fall colors “to go” on a mobile website compatible with smart phones and tablets. These reports include percent of color change, integrated with Google maps. To access the mobile site, scan the QR code or bookmark the site on a smart phone or other mobile device.
For more information, visit the online calendar or call DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
A vehicle permit is required for entrance to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Visitors may start with a one-day permit or year-round permit, which provides unlimited access to all 76 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for a year from the month of purchase.
Visitors to Minnesota state parks can upload fall color photos to the DNR’s fall color website, www.dnr. state.mn.us.