To celebrate the upcoming season, Explore Minnesota, the state's tourism promotion office, and Minnesota State Parks and Trails have teamed up to provide a weekly fall color report.

From scenic drives to hiking, biking, fall festivals and more, Explore Minnesota and Minnesota State Parks and Trails offer trip-planning tips via e-mail, mobile phone and social media to encourage travelers to get out and enjoy the state's most colorful time of year.

“Scenic road trips, harvest season, festivals and outdoor recreation make fall the second-biggest travel season. Minnesota is a top destination to experience the fall colors at parks and trails across the state,” said John Edman, Explore Minnesota director. “With weekly statewide fall color reports, we’re able to help travelers make the most of this special season.”

State park staff throughout Minnesota assess the status of the trees, wildflowers and grasses in their area and update the online fall color finder on the DNR Web site at mndnr.gov every Wednesday through the end of October. 

The site includes a color-coded map showing the approximate percentage of leaves that have changed color as well as a slide show of recent photos taken by park staff and visitors.

“Don’t waste time indoors,” said Erika Rivers, director of the parks and trails division at the Minnesota DNR. “Grab your camera and get out hiking, biking or paddling before the short but spectacular fall color show is over at Minnesota state parks and trails.”

“For most of Minnesota, this fall’s color display should be rich and beautiful," said Val Cervenka, the forest health program consultant in the DNR’s forestry division.

Cervenka, who provides the annual fall color forecast for the DNR, says decreasing day length and the onset of long, cool nights trigger the color change in leaves.

Brilliant crimson and purple leaf colors are produced by warm, sunny days and chilly, but not frosty, nights.

Yellow color, found in ash, aspen, basswood, birch, cottonwood and elm, can be early or short-lived due to any dry conditions.

The fall color show in Minnesota typically begins along the northern border in early to mid-September and the spreads southward through October.

Colors can peak between mid-September and early October in northern Minnesota, between late September and early October in the central region and between late September and mid-October in the southern third of the state.

Peak fall color typically lasts about two weeks, but it can vary widely depending on location, elevation and weather.

Trees at higher elevations are the earliest to show color change.

Travelers are encouraged to hit the road for an unforgettable drive through a rainbow of colorful fall foliage in Minnesota these next several weeks. Minnesota’s scenic fall routes meander through a variety of landscapes – the lake-splashed north woods, tumbling waterfalls, grand bluffs towering above winding rivers, ribbons of prairie and many state parks along the way.

With diverse Minnesota landscapes and brilliant foliage, a fall hike is a fun way to soak up the scenery. The Hike MN program highlights 10 trails, including Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, with varied terrain, length and difficulty.

Research shows people seek inspiration from social networks. Tag fall color photos and get real-time travel ideas this season using Explore Minnesota's popular statewide travel hashtag #OnlyinMN and Minnesota State Parks and Trails hashtag #JustAddNature.

To get weekly e-mail or text updates on where to find peak fall color, visit either mndnr.gov or explore-minnesota.com.

Tourism is a $15 billion industry in Minnesota, a key sector of the state's economy.

Minnesota welcomes more than 70 million domestic and international travelers annually.

The DNR Parks and Trails Division manages 75 state parks, 25 state trails and 35 state water trails and much more.

– Information and photo courtesy of the Minnesota DNR