Fall Colors Road Trip

September 13, 2017

Fall Colors Road Trip

Fall makes for an explosion of beautiful colors in northern Minnesota as the wide variety of deciduous trees begin to change colors. Timing is of the essence, so be sure to monitor the DNR’s Fall Color Finder.

Grab a map and a GPS and hit the road for a fantastic fall colors road trip starting around Bemidji, MN:

  • Bemidji → Itasca State Park → Park Rapids: Head south from Bemidji, MN on Hwy 71 to Park Rapids, MN. If you’d like, stop at Itasca State Park between Bemidji and Park Rapids and visit the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
  • Park Rapids → Walker: From Park Rapids, head east on Hwy 34 to Walker. On this stretch, stop at Shingabee Recreation Area a few miles past Akeley to stretch your legs and enjoy the colors by foot. Walker has a great city park right on Leech Lake for you to enjoy a picnic lunch or mid morning snack.
  • Walker → Grand Rapids: In Walker turn onto Hwy 371 east to Grand Rapids. This portion of the drive will take you through the southern part of the Chippewa National Forest. Make sure to merge straight onto Hwy 200 at Northern Lights Casino to Remer. To get to Grand Rapids from Remer, take Hwy 6 north and follow for 14 miles, then take county road 63 to Grand Rapids.
  • Grand Rapids → Bigfork → Scenic State Park: In Grand Rapids, head north on Hwy 38 to Bigfork. Once you're in Bigfork, feel free to head east on the Scenic Highway to Scenic State Park to see the this beautiful state park, or continue onto the last leg of the trip.
  • Bigfork → Lake Bemidji State Park: The last part of the scenic drive takes you through the central Chippewa National Forest to Blackduck, MN where you will head south to find Lake Bemidji State Park. Feel free to take advantage of the photo opportunity at the blackduck statue in Blackduck. Lake Bemidji State Park has fire pits and picnic areas to have dinner to finish off your day and enjoy the sunset on Lake Bemidji. You can also enjoy walking around the trails in the park.

This road trip takes around 5 hours of driving, which doesn’t include any stops to walk around, take pictures, or grab a bite to eat.

Here are a few shorter road trips options that will still give you a beautiful fall color views:

  • Bemidji → Itasca State Park → Park Rapids → Akeley → Bemidji: 2 hours
  • Bemidji → Itasca State Park → Park Rapids → Walker → Bemidji: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Bemidji → Itasca State Park → Park Rapids → Walker → Federal Dam → Bemidji Lake State Park: 3 hours, 7 minutes

The Minnesota Northwoods resorts are open through September and are the perfect starting point for a day road trip to see the fall colors.

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