Hit the road this fall

Residents of the Twin Cities metro area get out of the sprawl and hit the rural roads each fall to see beautiful colors.

Minnesota River Drive

Route:

Scott/Sibley County Road 6 from Belle Blaine to Henderson, then Minnesota Highway 93 to LeSueur, then Highway 169 to Mankato, then Highway 68 to New Ulm.

Peak color:

late September to mid-October

What you’ll see:

Beautiful yellow and gold hardwoods dot the orange landscape of the valleys and bluffs along the Minnesota River. At Minneopa State Park, there are 45-foot double waterfalls to see. Enjoy historic districts in Belle Plaine, Henderson, Ottawa, St. Peter, Mankato and New Ulm. There are 130 acres of woods, wetlands and gardens at the Linnaeus Arboretum at Gustavus Adophus College. Don’t forget the 102-foot Herman the German in New Ulm and the August Schell Brewery Museum.

Frontenac State Park

Lake Pepin, a naturally wide part of the Mississippi River, reflects the sky in the background with fall colors of Frontenac State Park in the foreground.

Mississippi River Valley

Route:

U.S. Highway 61 between Red Wing and LaCrescent

Peak color:

early to mid-October

What you’ll see:

Amid the roadside apple stands, you’ll find charming river towns tucked in among wooded bluffs and scenic vistas of the Mississippi River. The bluffs rise like billboards, displaying the fall colors. There’s the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Lark Toys in Kellogg and Frontenac and Great River Bluffs state parks. If you need a stop, there is plenty to explore in Winona, Red Wing and Lake City. It’s a popular autumn drive, so even going partway can be hectic.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Minnehaha Creek-Summit

Route:

Calhoun Parkway, Richfield Road, Lake Harriet Parkway, Minnehaha Parkway, Godfrey Parkway, Ford Parkway, Mississippi River Boulevard, Summit Avenue

Peak color:

late September to mid-October

What you’ll see:

The Twin Cities offers autumn vistas with lakes and rivers amid the beautiful homes along Bde Maka Ska, Lake Harriett, Minnehaha Creek and Lake Nokomis. After a stop at Minnehaha Falls and Longfellow Gardens, cross the Ford Bridge and go north along the St. Paul side of the Mississippi, where there are scenic overlooks. Stately homes await you along tree-lined Summit Avenue. The length varies depending on whether you circle entire lakes. A drive this scenic in uncommon in most major cities.

Minnesota fall colors

Orange, reds and yellow colors decorate the woods of Minnesota every fall.

St. Croix River Valley

Route:

Highway 95 from Taylors Falls to Afton

Peak color:

mid-September to early October

What you’ll see:

Four state parks — Interstate, Wild River, William O’Brien and Afton — offer great views of the fall foliage along the St. Croix River. Visit the charming towns of Taylors Falls, Stillwater, Marine on St. Croix and Afton. The Franconia Sculpture Park near Shafer is a worthy stop. If you want to see the sights by rail, cross over to Osceola, Wisconsin, and visit the Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway. After all, drives along the St. Croix get quite busy on weekends.

Highway 101

Route:

Highway 101 from Shakopee to Elk River

Peak color:

late September to mid-October

What you’ll see:

Today, Highway 101 is a state highway in some places and a county road in others. Before the metro sprawl reached it, state Highway 101 was a popular scenic and curvy drive for Minneapolitans. Allowing for gaps in the scenery, it still offers scenic sights such as Lake Minnetonka’s Gray’s Bay, the Minnesota River valley, farms and forrests of northern Hennepin County and the Betty Adkins Bridge across the Mississippi River. Enjoy historic downtowns in Shakopee, Wayzata, Rogers and Elk River.

Events

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