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'Tis the season: Fall Color Forecast coming back online

Beginning Thursday, Sept. 17, Explore Minnesota and Minnesota State Parks and Trails are back with resources to help residents find peak fall colors.
Fall colors

ST PAUL, Minn. — Although summer's end brings a collective groan across much of Minnesota, the approach of fall brings at least one thing to celebrate.

Leaves. Not raking them, looking at them.

Beginning Thursday, Sept. 17, Explore Minnesota and Minnesota State Parks and Trails are back with their annual Fall Color Forecast, featuring leaf alerts and an online guide that helps steer people to the places where the leaves are at their colorful peak.

Besides updated leaf forecasts, the agencies have web pages that list scenic drives and hikes, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and all sorts of places to visit and celebrate Minnesota's most colorful season. 

"With wide-open spaces and diverse terrain, Minnesota offers scenic and close-to-home trips for travelers to enjoy the fall color show. Our weekly reports on color progression can help travelers make the most of this short and sweet season," said Explore Minnesota tourism director John Edman. "Along the way, businesses across the state continue to make visitor safety and health protocols a priority for those looking to take a trip this fall."

Minnesota State Parks and Trails staff check the status of trees, wildflowers and grasses in their area and update the online Fall Color Finder every Thursday morning, just in time for weekend adventures. The popular page includes a color-coded map showing the approximate percentage of leaves that have changed color, and a slideshow of recent photos taken by staff and visitors.

Credit: MN DNR

"No two autumns are exactly alike. Temperature and soil moisture together affect fall color, and combinations of the two can vary widely from year to year," said Val Cervenka of the DNR's Forestry Division. "It's good to keep in mind that local weather conditions will affect local fall color, but all things point to this year's overall color being especially lovely across the state."

As procedures have changed at many sites and trails due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DNR has created a resource page for visitors to check for safety updates before they come.