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best fall color tours north shore

north shore mn fall colors

Autumn on the North Shore is glorious. Nights cool down making for crisp mornings and warm days. As days shorten, leaves quit producing chlorophyll and the latent colors – red, orange, burgundy, yellow, gold – emerge. Fall colors in Minnesota are finest along Lake Superior’s North Shore. The dense forests blanketing the hillsides are covered with both hardwoods – maples – and softwoods – birch, aspen, poplar. This makes for two fall color seasons.

the best time to see fall colors

Typically maples begin to turn along the ridge lines a few miles inland after Labor Day. By the third week/end of September maple colors are at their peak. About this time the birch and poplar closer to Lake Superior start to run yellow and the second season starts.

Any weather works for viewing fall colors. On grey, misty days, the colors vibrate while the contrast of bright blue on a sunny day can be glorious. Plan on layering clothes to offset cool morning [in the 40s]. 

Weather has a major impact on the colors of the season – if the trees have been stressed due to lack of rain or a cold summer, colors can be subdued and the season short. 

north shore mn fall color map

Venture out by foot, by car, by bike, or by boat. The choice is yours and the rewards are spectacular. Maple fall colors cannot typically be seen from the lakeshore; they require the warmer inland temperatures of the valleys and south-facing secondary hillsides.

Fore better viewing, travel with the sun at your back – to the west in the morning and to the east in the afternoon. 

Get a North Shore MN map for fall color tours

Our recommendations for the best fall color routes on Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior.

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