Sep 30, 2021 - Things to Do

Minnesota poised for peak fall color

A peak fall color map of Minnesota.

Image: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Now's the time to head north if leaf-peeping is your jam.

What's happening: Much of northern Minnesota has peak or near-peak fall color, and the next 10 days are slated to be the best of the year.

  • The Twin Cities and southern Minnesota aren't far behind, with peaks expected mid-October.

Why it matters: The breathtaking beauty of fall foliage is one of nature's great gifts to us.

  • Plus: Metro residents heading north to take in the views help keep the tourism economy humming.

Driving the timing: Summer predictions of an early fall color season due to drought haven't materialized thanks in large part to a warm September, when temperatures have run 3.7 degrees above average, reports MPR meteorologist Paul Huttner.

  • Huttner says peak fall color is actually one or two weeks behind last year's pace.

Between the lines: Some experts warned earlier in the season that the drought might also lead to a more muted palette overall.

  • "The trees were quite stressed, especially in the earlier part of the summer ... What trees need to get those bright autumn colors, those bright reds, are sunny days and cooler nights," Itasca State Park naturalist Connie Cox told Forum News Service earlier this month.

Be smart: If you want to head north for more than a day trip, you'd better book soon.

  • A Wednesday Airbnb search around Grand Marais found no open rentals for this weekend, and fewer than a dozen remained for the weekend of Oct. 9.
  • Some popular state campsites, including Split Rock, are also booked.

The bottom line: With lots of sun and temps forecasted in the 60s and 70s, this weekend offers prime conditions for autumnal adventures.

  • So close that laptop, pause your latest Netflix binge and get outdoors!

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