Where fall colors, leaf-chasers converge

Payment rates vary according to land type and range from $2 per acre, to the greater of $5.133 per acre or three-quarters of 1 percent of appraised value. Payment for Lake Vermilion Soudan Underground Mine State Park is assessed at 1.5 percent of the appraised value of the land. (Photo by Brian Peterson)

There is always something happening, it seems, at Itasca State Park. Not such things as a bad time to visit the granddaddy of all Minnesota state parks.

Summer is prime time, of course, with events packed into pretty much every weekend at the popular outdoors destination near Park Rapids.

But for a good number of people, now – as in right now – is the time to be at the park. No, not a lot of events there these days. In fact, the two events scheduled at Itasca in the coming days are tied to this major draw at the park.

The fall colors.

According to the Minnesota DNR Fall Color Finder, updated by the DNR each Thursday, Itasca is among 17 state parks and recreation areas – mostly across the northern portion of the state – currently experiencing peak fall colors of 75-100 percent.

As of Thursday, according to the DNR Fall Color Finder, also at 75-100 percent: Bear Head Lake State Park, Big Bog State Recreation Area, Buffalo River State Park, Camden State Park, Cascade River State Park, Grand Portage State Park, Jay Cooke State Park, Judge C.R. Magney State Park, La Salle Lake State Recreation Area, Lake Bronson State Park, Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park, McCarthy Beach State Park, Old Mill State Park, Red River State Recreation Area, Savanna Portage State Park and Schoolcraft State Park.

At Jay Cooke, near Carlton, that should coincide nicely with the Clues to Fall Color – Nature Table event scheduled at the park on Saturday, Oct. 7. The peak colors may also hang on for those two events at Itasca – Circle Time Under the Pines: L is for Leaves on Oct. 10 and Fall Colors Hike: Exploring the North Country along the Red Pine Trail on Oct. 14.

Twenty-six other state parks and rec areas are nearing peak colors (50-75 percent), according to the DNR and Fall Color Finder: Banning State Park, Big Stone Lake State Park, Charles A. Lindbergh State Park,Crow Wing State Park, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, Father Hennepin State Park, Fort Ridgely State Park, Franz Jevne State Park, George Crosby Manitou State Park, Glacial Lakes State Park, Glendalough State Park, Gooseberry Falls State Park, Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area, Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area, Lac Qui Parle State Park, Lake Bemidji State Park, Lake Carlos State Park, Maplewood State Park, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, Moose Lake State Park, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, Tettegouche State Park, Upper Sioux Agency State Park, Wild River State Park, William O’Brien State Park, and Zippel Bay State Park.

Fall events at those destinations on Saturday, Oct. 7 include: Fall Festival, Lake Carlos State Park; Fall Professional Photography Workshop, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park; and Fall Color Walk, Wild River State Park.

On Sunday, Oct. 8, the Fall Color Walk is scheduled at Wild River State Park. Also Sunday is the Fall Color Walk at Fort Snelling State Park and Get Ready for Fall: Investigation Station at Interstate State Park. Fort Snelling and Interstate both are at about 50 percent of peak colors, according to the Fall Color Finder.

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