Fall Colors in Minnesota

Amidst our hectic work schedule recently, we made an impromptu quick getaway to witness the fall colors in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had predicted this fall color season to be the best in a decade… and we concurred. This is certainly the best fall colors we have ever witnessed in Minnesota thus far. We spent 3 nights in Northeastern Minnesota after finding an incredible cottage deal in Two Harbor. After coming back from this trip, we headed to the southeastern part of Minnesota on the following day to check out the fall colors. Throughout this entire trip, we visited eight state parks and a few scenic attractions.

We snowshoed in Jay Cooke State Park last winter, but we decided to visit this state park again this time to see what it actually looked like when the ground and river were not covered with snow. The scenery in the park was astoundingly beautiful in fall. There were plenty of colors throughout the park.

Gooseberry Falls State Park seems to become our least favorite state park in Northeastern Minnesota. It is still a very nice park with very accessible short trails to the beautiful waterfalls, but we didn’t really experience the “WOW” factor anymore. Perhaps, we have visited this state park way too many times.

We visited Lutsen Mountains, which is about an hour from Two Harbor, to take the tram ride to the top of Moose Mountain. During our 10 to 15 minutes tram ride, we noticed the lack of fall colors along Lake Superior whereas the inland was exploded with incredible colors. Alhough the view from the summit wasn’t as great as the ones we experienced in New England, it was indeed one of the better fall colors we have witnessed in Minnesota thus far.

We have hiked in Temperance River State Park a few times, including one crazy winter season. This is truly one of the better state parks in this area. We didn’t hike too deep into it this time, but we managed to hike to a few of our favorite spots to capture the incredible fall colors along Temperance River.

It was our first visit to George Crosby Manitou State Park. This state park is not accessible directly from North Shore Scenic Drive, not to mention our stupid Garmin GPS had a hard time locating the destination. That said, we didn’t encounter whole lot of visitors in the park. It turned out to be a wonderful experience there. We hiked for two hours in the park. The first 1/3 of the hike was easy, but the rest of the hike was fairly strenuous with steep climbs and loose rocks on the ground. In fact, we tried to hike out from the trail as fast as possible before the late afternoon sun hid behind the hills.

We finally visited Tettegouche State Park. We always wanted to visit this state park, but never had the opportunity to spend enough time in it. This time, we spent five hours hiking in the inland part of the state park, and we experienced one of the greatest fall colors in Minnesota. The morning sun was perfect, the weather was perfect and the views were absolutely stunning. During our hike, we had an interesting chat with a local photographer from Grand Marais who was hired to take pictures of the boathouse views for the new Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center, scheduled to open in 2012. We even posed for a few shots upon his request. In return, he gladly sent one of his shots to us later for free. So, if you see this picture below at the Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center next time, please keep in mind that the two unidentified Asian kids in the picture are indeed us.

We paid a very short visit to the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. We strolled along Pebble Beach to Ellingson Island because we never step foot on that island before. It was very cold on the island with virtually no trees sheltering us from the furious wind.

We took the opportunity to spend an evening in Duluth for dinner since we always drove past this city on our recent trips to this area. That said, we did climb up to the top of Enger Tower to witness the brilliant fall colors in Duluth. We read the news that King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway were at this site on October 17 (10 days after our visit) to rededicate Enger Tower. The tower was originally dedicated by the King’s father, then Crown Prince Olav, in 1939.

During our drive back home, we visited Banning State Park for a few hours of hike. It was pretty much past peak in this state park, but it was indeed beautiful where the cool breeze ruffled the dried leaves along the trails.

We spent half a day in Great River Bluffs State Park. Due to the dry weather, the fall colors in Southeastern Minnesota were less impressive compared to the fall colors in Northeastern Minnesota as the most leaves dried up and turned brown.

This is truly one of the best fall foliage vacation we have ever experienced in Minnesota. We were pretty lucky that we managed to catch it at the right time. Although I went to this trip with a busted right index finger, I still managed to take quite a few shots the entire time. These colorful pictures will help us and the rest of the Minnesotans to get through the upcoming bitterly cold Minnesota winter.

Fall Colors in Minnesota
Picture taken by Paul Sundberg, a local photographer from Grand Marais, of us at the boathouse in Tettegouche State Park, which may appear at the new Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center.
Day 1: Fall colors in Jay Cooke State Park.
Day 2: Orangy maple leaves in George Crosby Manitou State Park.
Day 3: Colorful leaves surround Lax Lake in Tettegouche State Park.
Day 4: Sunrise in Two Harbor.
Day 5: Fall colors in Great River Bluffs State Park.
Trip route.

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