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Best Places To See Fall Colors In Minnesota

November 1, 2010 12:08 PM

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River Bluffs In Winona

(Credit: August Thurmer)

With the end of summer, some people get depressed thinking about the cold weather and the snow that will soon be around the corner when winter rolls around. But if you think like that, you will be missing out on perhaps the most colorful season in Minnesota — autumn.And you can get quite the view of amazing fall foliage in Minnesota. The state is known for its outdoor beauty and expansive lakes, so the fall colors seen across the land have a beautiful backdrop for leaf-changing lovers to observe.

With the help of some WCCO viewers, the Minnesota DNR and Explore Minnesota Tourism, we’re bringing you 10 of the best places to go see fall colors.

River Bluffs In Winona

(Credit: August Thurmer)

Mississippi River Bluffs (Winona)

Great River Bluff’s State Park Website
43605 Kipp Drive | Winona, MN 55987

There are so many beautiful bluffs along the Mississippi River in Winona and that makes for great views too. Stop anywhere along the river and see the bright hues. Peak color months near Winona are late September to mid-October.

MN Landscape Arboretum, garden,

(Credit: Donna Parks)

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Website
3675 Arboretum Drive| Chaska, MN 55318

You can view it all here! Nestled In Chaska, Minn., this pace has more than 1,000 acres of varied landscapes. Check out the fall gardens, woodlands, wetlands and prairies. Peak time is late September to mid-October.

St. Croix

(Credit: Explore Minnesota Tourism)

St. Croix River

St. Croix River Website

Check out this amazing view. Now imagine more than 164 miles of it. Whether you are on the Minnesota or Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River, you will be teetering back and forth between amazing fall colors the whole way down. Peak time to see colors is from late September to early October.

Split Rock Lighthouse

(credit: Mike Knox)

The North Shore

Split Rock Lighthouse Website

If you’ve ever been up Highway 61 during autumn, you know that the colors will knock your socks off. Take your pictures at Split Rock Lighthouse and you have an image fit for a postcard. Peak colors are from mid-September to early October.

Lake Mille Lacs

(Credit: Michael Townsend)

Lake Mille Lacs

Lake Mille Lacs Tourism Website

Drive over to what many in the area call “The Walleye Capitol of the World” to check out Minnesota’s second-largest lake. Since the lake is so big, you’ll find plenty of towns to stop in and take in the colorful beauty. We also recommend Mille Lacs Kathio State Park for viewing. Peak colors are from late September to early October.

Sawtooth Mountains

(Credit: Sybil Druce)

Sawtooth Mountains

Lutsen Mountains Website

The Sawtooth Mountains are located in Lutsen which are part of the North Shore, but this area had to be singled out because of the spectacular sweeping views and the heights you can reach to see them. Check out the area in mid-September to early October for the most color.

Fort Snelling

(Credit: Friends of Fort Snelling)

Fort Snelling State Park

Fort Snelling Website
101 Snelling Lake Road | St. Paul, MN 55111

Not only is it near one of the biggest attractions in Minneapolis — Minnehaha Falls — but Fort Snelling is home to tons of hiking and biking trails. That makes it a perfect way to explore the rainbow of colors right along the Mississippi River, and right in the heart of the city. Peak time is from late September to mid-October.

St. Anthony Main

(Credit: Explore Minnesota Tourism)

St. Anthony Main

St. Anthony Main Website

A cityscape view with nature surrounding you, is what makes St. Anthony Main stand out from the rest. Cross the Stone Arch Bridge to take in this scene in late September to mid-October for maximum color.

Chain Of Lakes Minneapolis

(Credit: Explore Minnesota Tourism)

Chain Of Lakes

Grand Rounds Scenic Drive Website

Take the convertible out one last time before the winter hits and circle the Chain of Lakes — Nokomis, Harriet, Calhoun and Lake of the Isles — for a wonderful inner-city tour of fall foliage. Typical peak season is late September to mid-October.

Duluth Leaves

(Credit: Nellissa Schmalz)

The Drive To Duluth Harbor

Visit Duluth Website

Duluth Harbor is the start of the North Shore drive, but we had to include this as a separate entry for the long colorful drive up Interstate 35 and that first glance you get of Duluth Harbor right outside of town. The Aerial Lift Bridge is the perfect landmark for your fall colors backdrop when viewed from Observation Hill.

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