Tuesday, September 15, 2015

DNR predicts spectacular fall color season

To help travelers plan their fall hikes, bike rides, paddling trips and scenic drives to coincide as closely as possible with peak color, staff at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas will update an online fall color finder at www.mndnr.gov/fallcolor every Thursday, starting Sept. 10.

This online trip-planning tool includes a map showing where to find peak color across the state, a link to fall color programs and special events, a slideshow and a photo uploader that provides an easy way for people to share their favorite fall color images.

"Current weather conditions indicate we're on track for a great fall color year," said Patricia Arndt, communications and outreach manager for the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division. "With the exception of dry weather in northeastern Minnesota, most of the state has had close to or above-average precipitation, making for healthy, green trees going into fall. If we continue to have adequate rainfall as nights become longer, the autumn display should be spectacular."

A "Colors of the Prairie" program at Afton State Park (Sept. 12), 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) are just some of the many upcoming programs naturalists have planned.

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 will also mail the brochure to anyone who requests it. Fall programs can also be found online at www.mndnr.gov/fallcolor.

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 color typically lasts 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.

For smart phone and tablet users, the DNR offers fall colors "to go" on a mobile fall color finder integrated with Google maps. To access the mobile version, scan the QR code at http://mndnr.gov/mobile or visit www.mndnr.gov/mobile/fall_colors and bookmark the site.

For more information, contact the DNR Information Center by sending an email to info.dnr@state.mn.us or by calling 888-646-6367between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

A vehicle permit is required for entrance to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Anyone who purchases a $5 one-day permit can exchange it for $5 off a year-round permit later the same day. Year-round permits, $25, provide unlimited access to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for a full year from the month of purchase.

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