A Blur Of Fall Colors — And Activity

When the Green Mountains exploded in reds and oranges and yellows, they would come — in droves. Same when the aspens in the San Juan range of the Rockies would magically morph — seemingly overnight — with the changing of the seasons.

People come from thousands of miles away to see the spectacle that is the fall colors in Vermont and Colorado. It’s an amazing sight.

But then what? No matter how spectacular, even the most stout of leaf chasers needs more than pretty-colored leaves to hold their attention. And many places that are fortunate enough to offer such a fall spectacle have much more to offer. The leaves get you there, but under that umbrella of fire-colored trees, there are other outdoors possibilities.

Yes, the destination is the key, but once there, the options should be as endless as those colorful fall forests. Northland Outdoors understands that — we hope to bring readers to the places that make the north country special, then tell the stories of all that those places have to offer.

Say, for example, Minnesota’s state parks come the fall colors season.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the state’s expansive state parks and recreation areas system, in an effort to help travelers plan their fall hikes, bike rides, paddling trips and scenic drives to coincide as closely as possible with peak color, an online fall color finder is now being offered and will be updated every Thursday through the fall colors season.

The online trip-planning tool includes a map showing where to find peak color across the state, a slideshow and a photo uploader that allows people to share their favorite fall color images — another interactive tool we plan to embrace at Northland Outdoors. And, maybe most importantly for destination- and leaf-chasers, is a link to fall color programs and special events.

Among the dozens of such events are a “Colors of the Prairie” program at Afton State Park (Saturday), a “Million Shades of Autumn” geocaching event at William O’Brien State Park (Sept. 19), a lantern-lit hike at Itasca State Park (Sept. 26) and a guided bike ride along the Luce Line State Trail (Oct. 10).

According to the DNR, these and other family oriented fall color programs are listed in the 2015 “Fall Sampler” brochure available at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, at Twin Cities libraries and at metro area outdoor retail stores. The DNR Information Center also will mail the brochure to anyone who requests it.

Northland Outdoors embraces technology and how it applies to all such things outdoors, and for smartphone and tablet users, the DNR offers fall colors “to go” on a mobile fall color finder integrated with Google maps.

According to the DNR, colors typically peak between mid-September and early October in the northern third of Minnesota, between late September and early October in the central third and between late September and mid-October in the southern third, which includes the Twin Cities. Peak fall colors typically last about two weeks, but that can vary widely, depending on location, elevation and weather.

Trees at higher elevations are the earliest to show color change, so the Green Mountains are mostly orange and yellow about now; same with the Rockies. And soon Minnesota, too, will be a blur of fall colors.

And activity.

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