Explore the top three places in Minnesota for peak fall foliage this week

A sea of fall colors in trees
In a sea of fall color, two large white pines soar above the surrounding forest canopy in 2022 near Grand Rapids, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News file

As temperatures begin dropping this fall season, soon too will the leaves. The annual transformation of green foliage into an array of oranges, reds and yellows is being seen across the state of Minnesota.  

Fall colors generally don’t peak until late September or early October in central Minnesota, but due to this summer’s dry and warm conditions, some of the usual trends for fall color changes have been sped up. 

A map of Minnesota showing better fall colors in northwest region.
This week's DNR color finder map for Sept. 27, 2023.
Courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Let’s take a look at the current top three places in Minnesota where foliage and color conditions are about to move past their peak according to the DNR’s Fall Color Finder tracking.

Itasca State Park, northwest Minnesota

Trees will have pops of deep red as most of the hardwood and maple species move into the final stages of color-changing before the leaves start falling. Itasca State Park is currently sitting at 50-75 percent peak so park officials recommend viewing the colors from the Brower Trail which features Lake Itasca and climbing the Aiton Heights fire tower for an aerial panoramic view of the changing colors (be prepared for a line at the fire tower on the weekends and beavers on the move). 

A view of fall colors.
Twisting through towering pines on the Wilderness Drive, taken Sept. 22, 2023.
Courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Maplewood State Park, western Minnesota

The pace of color change in Maplewood State Park was hastened this year thanks to cool nights and warm sunny days. Hosts of varied species, all with their own unique peak color, are vibrantly blooming throughout the park with sugar maples and ash trees taking the spotlight. The park recommends joining in the Leaf Days Celebration event hosted by the Friends of Maplewood from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1. 

St. Croix State Park, eastern Minnesota

The St. Croix State Park rests on the border of eastern Minnesota and follows along the edge of the St. Croix River where park officials say the leaves are still relatively green but quickly moving into their fall peak colors. Many of the abundant aspens, maples and oaks in the park have changed color, and while strong winds have blown some leaves down, there is still plenty of fall color to enjoy. Additionally, lots of acorns in the trees and on the ground make for some happy local bears. 

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