It rained colors. Then it just rained.
The latter could dampen the spirits of those chasing the former in the Upper Midwest yet this fall.
This last weekend, Minnesota enjoyed a perfect storm of sorts, at least in the northern part of the state, where unseasonably warm temperatures, blue skies and peak colors made for a memorable weekend in the out-of-doors. Traffic was brisk on the roads and lakes across the area, particularly on Sunday, when temperatures were well into the 80s, even into the northern reaches of the state. The colors were awe-inspiring.
But it likely will be short-lived. And maybe folks knew that: Rain and wind — two enemies of fall colors — were predicted Monday. And, maybe somewhat surprisingly, the forecast was spot-on for much of the central and northern parts of the state.
For leaf-chasers, that may dictate where you will and won’t be going as the fall colors season winds down in the state.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fall color finder for state parks, recreation areas and trails, a good chunk of the state is past peak colors, and now off the colors radar. Most of these state parks are in the far-northern part of the state: Split Rock Lighthouse, Grand Portage, Banning, Glacial Lakes, Bear Head Lake, Tettegouche, Temperance River, George Crosby Manitou, Hill Annex Mine, Scenic, Buffalo River, Old Mill, Hayes Lake and Lake Bronson state parks.
Interestingly, those last four, located considerably west from the others, were past peak almost a week ago. The others just passed peak over the weekend.
But there still are options for those hoping to take in the colors. In fact, one state park — Flandrau near New Ulm in far southern Minnesota — only is at 10 percent to 25 percent of peak colors. Conditions at the park were last updated Oct. 7, so the park likely is well past that now, but probably still not near peak colors.
State parks at 25 percent to 50 percent of their fall colors — at least when they were last updated mid- to late last week — include Rice Lake, Minneopa, Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area, Fort Snelling, Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Afton, Forestville/Mystery Cave, John A. Latsch, Carley, Whitewater, Blue Mounds, Sibley and Monson Lake. Colors at most of those parks likely now are past 50 percent, so should afford fall color opportunities.
Colors should be approaching peak-peak at a number of parks that last were said to be at 50 percent to 75 percent. That includes Myre-Big Island, Frontenac, Interstate, Wild River, Split Rock Creek and Beaver Creek Valley state parks, which all were updated in the last couple of days. Kilen Woods, Upper Sioux Agency, Father Hennepin, Lake Carlos, Fort Ridgely, Lake Bemidji, Lac Qui Parle, Great River Bluffs, William O’Brien, Zippel Bay, Sakatah Lake, Lake Shetek, Franz Jevne, Big Stone, Moose Lake, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area and Lake Maria all were at 50 percent to 75 percent as of the middle of last week, so likely are pushing the limit.
There is a major sense of urgency for a number of parks at 75 percent to 100 percent. But even with Monday’s wind and rain, McCarthy Beach, Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area and Charles A. Lindbergh should still be glowing, at least for another few days — they were updated Monday. That, too, could be the case at Nerstrand-Big Woods, Savanna Portage and St. Croix, which were updated Sunday, and even Schoolcraft, Mille Lacs Kathio and Gooseberry Falls, which were updated Saturday.
But beyond that, areas that were at 75 to 100 percent and last updated early last week could be at or past peak: Crow Wing, Maplewood, Glendalough, La Salle Lake State Recreation Area, Jay Cooke, Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine, Red River State Recreation Area, Itasca, Judge C.R. Magney, Camden, Big Bog State Recreation Area and Cascade River.
Lake Vermilion-Soudan was among those last updated Oct. 7. But as of Sunday, the colors there were amazingly vivid, yet still not peaking in a good number of spots. So even with Monday’s inclement weather …
Don’t want to rain on leaf-chasers’ parade.