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The Best Fall Foliage Drives in Minnesota

September 26th, 2023 by

It’s the most colorful time of year! From the brightest yellows to the glowing oranges, the leaves of fall are an iconic and picturesque sign of changing seasons. It also makes a great time in Minnesota to drive around and take in the beauty.

Whether it’s a romantic getaway weekend or a family fun adventure, there are plenty of gorgeous sites to see. Here are some of the best fall foliage drives in Minnesota!

1. Northwoods

Before the area became better known as the “Great White North,” the Northwoods area of Minnesota is a prime hot spot for enjoying the fall colors. If you are looking for that getaway, the drive also boasts some of the state’s most beautiful resorts.

Exciting resorts also mean a chance to do some hiking, biking, canoeing, or horseback riding, meaning you can take in autumnal colors with or without the car. The trails and lakes in Northwoods allow you to select a number of transportation modes to mix up the fun of fall foliage.

2. Minnehaha Falls

If a family trip is more your style, consider a drive to Minnehaha Falls. Not only does this amazing natural waterfall make for outstanding family photo ops, as well as a unique backdrop for viewing fall colors, but it also doesn’t require much hiking to view.


Those with teens reluctant to swap electronic devices for fall fun will appreciate the shorter distance walks, while Minnehaha Regional Park (in which the falls reside) provides ample entertainment options of its own, nestled in Minneapolis’ parks and recreation area!

3. Itasca State Park

If you are looking for a great viewing opportunity of fall’s finest, try Itasca State Park. Besides its amazing views of the source of the Mississippi River Headwaters, it also offers a paved bike trail, perfect for those seeking some exercise with their scenery!

4. Chippewa National Forest

I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of Chippewa National Forest, but did you know it has a lesser-known feature called “The Lost 40” within its borders? This space boasts a hiking trail taking its adventurers through some of Minnesota’s last old-growth trees.

With fewer guests, this quiet park offers a peaceful space to view the breathtaking yellow foliage among the 300 to 400-year-old red and white pines.

5. Minnesota River Drive

You don’t have to go too far from home to enjoy one of the most scenic fall drives in our state. The Minnesota River Drive, which includes routes such as County Road 6 and Highway 93 from Belle Plaine to Le Sueur, as well as Highway 169 to Mankato or Highway 68 to New Ulm, will allow you to flow with the river’s bends.

Take in the hardwood colors that line the river or stop by the many riverside parks along the way. This beautiful drive can be tailored to your day, with several stops through many towns, or just a quick jaunt around your own neighborhood.

6. Superior National Forest

Minnesota’s great outdoors includes another popular national forest – Superior. Besides driving through, you can climb Oberg Mountain… but don’t let the name intimidate you. Instead, enjoy nine unique overlooks as you hike, giving you the perspective of colorful foliage from above (about 1,000 feet). Two, three-mile trails are of moderate difficulty for a climb, so even novice hikers can enjoy the sights of this special spot!


Which of these picturesque drives will you be taking in, this season?

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