DNR’s fall color finder will help travelers with trip planning

Minnesota state park and trail visitors will soon be seeing red, orange and yellow and countless other shades of autumn as the leaves and prairie grasses put on their annual show.

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Autumn's glory begins to light up the forest as the time of peak color will be soon at hand. Wendy Johnson/

Minnesota state park and trail visitors will soon be seeing red, orange and yellow and countless other shades of autumn as the leaves and prairie grasses put on their annual show.

Officials at Jay Cooke State Park report that the foliage in the park is at approximately 50-75 percent of peak color, with trees changing quickly in the last few days with the warm, sunny days and cool nights we've been having lately.

Good places to observe will be across the Swinging Bridge along the Silver Creek Trail. Also, plan on visiting Oldenburg Point for panoramic views of the St. Louis River Valley (though remember that you can only enter the park through its west entrance in Carlton/Thomson on Highway 210).

Commonly seen vegetation in the park right now includes brown-eyed Susan, tall sunflower and goldenrod, according to park officials. The understory has quickly changed this week with a lot of red sumac and grasses and ferns taking on yellows and russet browns. The ash are the first to change and are yellow to brown. Aspen and birch are now turning a yellow-green color as they move towards gold. There are some maples that are already turning orange and red as well.

Fall color at Jay Cooke is expected to peak sometime between the last weekend of September and the first weekend in October.


Leaves are at approximately 25-50 percent of peak color in Moose Lake State Park. Park officials report that while there is only a moderate amount of color change in the park right now, “The trails are mowed, the bugs are mostly gone and the temperature is great!”

“Any trail in the park is nice this time of year,” reported a park spokesman.

Park visitors are also encouraged to watch for migratory birds beginning their journey south for the winter.

For updates on the fall color at Moose Lake State Park, call 218-485-5420.

To help travelers plan their fall hikes, bike rides, paddling trips and scenic drives to coincide as closely as possible with peak color, staff at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas will update an online fall color finder at every Thursday. This online trip-planning tool includes a map showing where to find peak color across the state, a link to fall color programs and special events, a slideshow and a photo uploader that provides an easy way for people to share their favorite fall color images.

“We’re anticipating a beautiful fall color display,” said Patricia Arndt, communications and outreach manager for the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division. “It will move across the state quickly, though, so we encourage everyone to get out and enjoy it while it lasts. The fall color finder can help people locate a park or trail to visit or a naturalist program that the whole family can enjoy.”

Family-oriented fall color programs are also listed in a free “Feel the Wow of Fall” brochure available at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, at Twin Cities libraries and at metro area outdoor retail stores. The DNR Information Center will also mail the brochure to anyone who requests it.

Jay Cooke State Park will host a Fall Color Tour on Friday, Sept. 26, from 1-2:30 p.m. Stop by anytime to learn about how leaves change their color and what makes fall colors spectacular. Take home your own watercolor leaf you make during the program. Call 218-384-4610 for more information.



Colors typically peak between mid-September and early October in the northern third of Minnesota, between late September and early October in the central third, and between late September and mid-October in the southern third (which includes the Twin Cities). Peak fall color typically lasts about two weeks, but that can vary widely, depending on location, elevation and weather. Trees at higher elevations are the earliest to show color change.

For smartphone and tablet users, the DNR offers fall colors “to go” on a mobile fall color finder that is integrated with Google maps. To access the mobile version, scan the QR code at or visit and bookmark the site.

For more information, visit the online calendar at or call the DNR Information Center at 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. Anyone who purchases a one-day permit ($5) can exchange it for $5 off a year-round permit later the same day. Year-round permits, $25, provide unlimited access to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for a full year from the month of purchase.


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