Visit Minnesota state forests for fall color driving tours

Those looking for a scenic drive to take during peak fall color should consider visiting a state forest, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“State forests are an excellent place to see fall color,” said Jennifer Teegarden, forestry outreach specialist for the DNR. “Hilly or rugged areas dominated by deciduous trees tend to have the best mix of color. And the dark green needles of conifers accent the yellow, orange and red leaves of deciduous trees in mixed forests.”

Here are a few state forests and routes to consider:

Late September

  • Finland State Forest heading northeast along Country Road 7 from Finland. 
  • Smoky Hills State Forest along state Highway 34 between Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes
  • St. Croix State Forest along County Road 25 south of Duxbury to the Mallard Lake Forest Road.

Early October

  • Big Fork and Bowstring state forests along state Highway 38 between Grand Rapids and Effie.
  • Rum River State Forest along Rum River State Forest Road off of Highway 20.


  • Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest has two good options:
    • Along Zumbro Bottoms Road off state Highway 60 southwest of Wabasha.
    • Along state Highway 16 between Interstate 90 and state Highway 26.

More information about state forests is available on the DNR website at Entrance into a state forest is free. State forest campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis for $14 a night.

Visit the Minnesota state parks and trails Fall Color Finder at to find areas with peak fall color. The Fall Color Finder is updated every Thursday through the end of October.