The Best Fall Foliage in Minnesota: A Colorful Journey Through Nature’s Beauty
Fall in Minnesota is a magical season, when the landscape transforms into a vibrant tapestry of colors. As the leaves change from green to shades of red, orange, and gold, the state becomes a haven for leaf-peepers and nature enthusiasts. Whether you’re seeking a scenic drive, a leisurely hike, or a boat tour, Minnesota offers a variety of breathtaking locations to experience the beauty of fall foliage. In this guide, we will take you on a journey to see the best fall foliage in Minnesota and witness the stunning display of autumn colors. Best Fall Foliage in Minnesota
Start North – Mid September
Boundary Waters Canoe Area
As the days grow shorter and the temperatures begin to cool, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area comes alive with the vibrant hues of fall. Paddle through the calm waters and immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery. The third and fourth weekends in September are the best times to visit the BWCA for the most spectacular fall colors Minnesota has to offer.
Bear Head State Park
Just outside the BWCA, Bear Head State Park in Ely, MN, is a hidden gem for fall foliage enthusiasts. This park, known as “America’s Favorite Park,” offers a stunning display of colors and a chance to witness the beauty of nature at its finest.
Headwaters Of The Mississippi
Did you know that the Mississippi River starts right here in Minnesota? Visit Lake Itasca, where the river begins as a small trickle flowing out of the lake. Experience the awe-inspiring sight of the Mississippi River as it winds its way through 33 states, covering one-half of the nation.
Discover the Sawtooth Mountains on the North Shore of Lake Superior near Lutsen. These mountains offer a unique landscape and breathtaking views of the fall colors. Don’t be surprised if you spot a majestic mountain lion roaming among the trees.
The North Shore
The North Shore of Lake Superior is a haven for fall foliage enthusiasts. From the stunning Gooseberry Falls to the scenic drive from Two Harbors to Beaver Bay, there are plenty of opportunities to take in the spectacular fall colors. Hike at White Sky Rock or explore the many other hidden gems along the North Shore.
Late September – Early October
Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area
The Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area is a hidden treasure for fall foliage lovers. This area was once filled with iron ore mining pits and wasted rock, but now it’s a place of natural beauty. Take a walk along the Miners Mountain Overlook trail and be rewarded with breathtaking views of the changing leaves.
St. Croix River
Embark on a relaxing cruise along the St. Croix River or explore the land-based off the river at one of the Minnesota State Parks, such as Banning, Wild River, Interstate, and William O’Brien. Marvel at the mix of green pines, red maples, and bright yellow to orange hues from sugar maple trees.
Lake Mille Lacs
Visit Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, known for its 100-foot observation tower. Climb to the top and be rewarded with a picturesque view of the fall colors from the deck of the tower. This park is a must-visit for any fall foliage enthusiast.
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Immerse yourself in the beauty of Minnesota’s natural landscape at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Take part in the Harvest Festival, admire the whimsical scarecrows, or join the costumed 5K. This is the perfect place to experience the vibrant colors of fall.
Caponi Art Park
Caponi Art Park in Eagan is a unique destination that combines nature and art. Explore the 60 acres of wooded landscape and trails while enjoying the art displays featured within the park’s outdoor setting. This hidden gem is a must-visit for art and nature lovers alike.
Fort Snelling State Park
Fort Snelling State Park offers a variety of events and activities centered around enjoying the fall colors. Join a guided hike through the quiet floodplain forest near the Minnesota River or explore the park on your own. This park is a great place to connect with nature and experience the beauty of fall.
Taylors Falls – Interstate State Park
Escape to Taylors Falls and visit Interstate State Park, one of Minnesota’s oldest state parks. Take a short walk from the parking area and immerse yourself in the stunning autumn scenery. Marvel at the glacial rock formations that are over 10,000 years old and take a scenic boat tour on the St. Croix River.
St. Anthony Main
Enjoy the beauty of fall in the heart of the Twin Cities at St. Anthony Main. Take a stroll along the Mississippi River, cross the iconic Stone Arch Bridge, and admire the historic St. Anthony Falls and Mill Ruins. This area offers a perfect blend of urban and natural beauty.
Chain Of Lakes
Experience the colors of fall in the heart of Minneapolis at the Chain of Lakes. Take a leisurely walk or bike ride around Lake Harriet, Lyndale Park, Lyndale Farmstead, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, and Brownie Lake. This urban oasis provides a tranquil escape and a chance to reconnect with nature.
Capture a photo in front of the majestic Minnehaha Falls surrounded by a ray of yellows, reds, and brown hues. This hidden gem in downtown Minneapolis is the perfect place to enjoy the changing leaves and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.
Mid October – Late October
Embark on a fall foliage tour in Red Wing and enjoy the stunning views along the way. Make a stop at Barn Bluff, where you can overlook miles of countryside and the Mississippi River. Explore the historic town of Red Wing and indulge in shopping at the Red Wing Pottery store, savoring great beer at Red Wing Brewery, and enjoying delicious food at St. James Hotel.
Mississippi River Bluffs, Winona
The Mississippi River Bluffs in Winona offer breathtaking views of the fall foliage. Take a hike along the river valley and spot a variety of waterfowl, eagles, and hawks. Camping is allowed at Great River Bluffs State Park, where you can fully immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.
Discover the quaint town of Lanesboro, known as the Bed & Breakfast Capital of Minnesota. This charming town is surrounded by scenic beauty and offers incredible views of fall foliage. Explore the local attractions and immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere of this hidden gem.
Visit New Ulm, home of the iconic Hermann The German statue, and experience the vibrant colors of fall. Take a drive through the Minnesota River Valley and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Don’t miss the famous Octoberfest, held in early October, where you can toast to a good life while surrounded by fall colors.
Apple Blossom Scenic Drive
If you prefer a scenic drive to admire the fall colors, the Apple Blossom Scenic Drive is the perfect choice. This drive takes you through Southeastern Minnesota, where apple orchards line the roadway. Enjoy the picturesque views as you travel through the La Crescent area.
Minnesota is a paradise for fall foliage enthusiasts, offering a wide range of breathtaking locations to experience the beauty of autumn. From the stunning North Shore and the picturesque Twin Cities to the tranquil central and northwestern regions, each area has its own unique charm and vibrant colors to offer. So grab your camera, pack a picnic, and embark on a colorful journey through nature’s beauty in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to witness the stunning fall foliage in Minnesota – it’s an experience you’ll never forget.