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Exploding with color: Leaf peeping season has arrived

Chilly weather has hit the region in full force the last couple of days, but on the bright side, cooler temps also mean fall leaf peeping season has officially arrived.

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Yellow sugar maple leaves blow in the wind on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — Chilly weather has hit the region in full force the last couple of days, but on the bright side, cooler temps also mean fall leaf peeping season has officially arrived.

To help keep leaf peepers up-to-date, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been keeping its popular Fall Color Finder map up to date, which includes color-coded approximations of the percentage of leaves that have changed color in an area.

Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota DNR also offers weekly fall color updates through email subscription, which give more detailed information on color-changing activity throughout the state.

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Trees are in peak fall color along Paine Lake on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Lake George Community Park.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Currently, Lake Bemidji State Park is listed at peak color on the map and visitors will immediately spot bright reds, blaze oranges and golden yellows as they drive into the park.

The DNR suggests heading to the Lake Bemidji overlook along the Rocky Point Trail under golden and crimson maple trees. The trail goes through the park's maple and basswood forest, which is a unique forest type to the park, due to a different microclimate than what occurs in the rest of the park.

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For those who may want to enjoy the park's trails but have mobility issues, contact the park office about signing up to use the new track chair.

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The sun shines through red staghorn sumac leaves on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, near Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Here are some tips for a successful leaf peeping excursion:

  1. Prepare. When you’re at nature’s discretion, it’s probably best to do your research. Don’t be afraid to call the DNR, and regularly check the  Fall Color Finder map. If you’re leaf peeping in another state, check out this handy  Fall Foliage Prediction Map  for the U.S.
  2. Monitor the weather. No leaf peeper wants to show up to a soggy spot of land with bare trees. Before you waste the gas, make sure a tornado didn’t just blow through.
  3. Take advantage of the golden hour. If you’re looking to capture Instagram-worthy photos, try leaf peeping an hour before sunset or an hour after sunrise.
  4. Pick a base, but don’t be afraid to wander. You’ve done your research on the area, so explore it beyond the main highway. Some of the best fall colors are down side roads.
  5. Bring snacks. Who wants to look at leaves while they’re starving? Pack a picnic to bring along, and you’ve got a meal with an exceptionally pretty view.
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The trees lining Paine Lake are in peak fall color on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Lake George Community Park.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Annalise is the editor and a photographer at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is a Mass Communication graduate from Bemidji State University. Her favorite pastime is exploring the great outdoors and capturing its natural beauty on camera. Contact Annalise at (218) 333-9796, (218) 358-1990 or abraught@bemidjipioneer.com.
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