According to Val Cervenka, DNR forest health program coordinator, there are a number of reasons why fall colors vary from year to year and place to place:

  • Weather is most critical in determining the colors displayed each fall.
  • Colors are best when high-quality foliage – a product of a warm, moist summer – is exposed to sunny, cool fall days.
  • Light frosts may also help, but hard freezes can ruin the display.
  • Physiological stresses placed on trees can impact fall colors
  • Cool, wet summers can cause premature displays of color.
  • A mild summer drought may actually increase the display, but severe drought usually dulls colors noticeably.
  • In some cases, foliage may die and turn straw-colored due to a lack of water.
  • The lightest changes in weather in September – too warm, too cold, too wet, too dry – can slow color change or cause trees to drop leaves before they change color.
  • Because it is too dry to produce the vibrant reds, yellow and oranges, a severe summer drought will create a landscape filled with the subtler colors of tans, bronzes and auburns.

DNR Fall Colors

Minnesota State Parks and Trails Events Calendar

Find a fun activity at a park near you!

DNR Peak Color

Digital News Site Bring me the News recently showcased their favorite five cities to visit for the best of fall colors. Is your town included?

Our favorite tip is to take a ride to Lutsen, close to Duluth, on the Summit Express Gondola that brings you to the top of Moose Mountain. From there you can see amazing views of maple trees, the Poplar River Valley, peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains and Lake Superior from 1,000 ft. above the ground.

DNR color Lutsen

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