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1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

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Hurst, Texas
9 posts
1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

Planning a fall foliage trip to the Great Lakes area----esp, Wisconsin, Minnesota--for Fall 2013 and am seeking tips regarding best time to catch peek foliage and best places to visit. Texas leaf-peepers who have never been in area west of Illinois/Indiana in the fall. All tips invited. Thank you.

Mark markemm@juno.com

Level Contributor
373 posts
52 reviews
1. Re: 1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

I absolutely love western Wisconsin in the fall especially the Highway 14 corridor between Spring Green and LaCrosse. The terrain of western WI-including big hills and valleys is so picturesque plus the bluffs near LaCrosse are not to be missed. Right off Highway 14 near Lone Rock is an awesome apple orchard -Oakwood. Just follow the signs. Getting there is fun.

Usually the best time to see colors is around the 2nd week of October. (the colors this year were not that great due to the drought) I am sure my fellow poster Hatch will respond with helpful fall color websites and other helpful websites.

Destination Expert
for Milwaukee
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9,868 posts
61 reviews
2. Re: 1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

The Travel Wisconsin website has lots of information on fall colors. www.travelwisconsin.com/fall-color-report

It's hard to predict exactly when the colors will peak and there is a great variance in the northern and southern parts of the state. Toward lake Superior you may be looking at late September to early October and the southern part of the state is more mid October, in general.

Rockford, Illinois
Level Contributor
682 posts
211 reviews
3. Re: 1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

Door County is gorgeous in the fall. Peak time varies from year to year, but I would think the end of September or very beginning of October would be good.

Further south in WI is Devil's Lake State Park and the surrounding area. We were there last fall at the end of September and it was very pretty then.

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1,022 posts
525 reviews
4. Re: 1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

The North Shore drive from Duluth Mn to Grand Marais is beautiful!

Destination Expert
for Illinois, Chicago
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5,996 posts
243 reviews
5. Re: 1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

go [further] north, my friend....

door county, WI, is beautiful..... but upper michigan along the shore of lake superior is truly awesome.... so as long as you plan to visit minn, why not do a complete lake superior circle trip? while the UP, northern wisc and minn are beautiful, the canadian side is even better........ if you go this route, allow AT LEAST a week for this trip...






















Edited: 11:47 pm, February 06, 2013
Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
144 posts
315 reviews
6. Re: 1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

Door County is great for leafers, but overpriced and crowded during peak season. Skip the traffic, the lines and headache of Door County and consider Oconto, Forest and Marinette Counties. My wife's family has a cabin in Lakewood (Oconto County), and I only go back to Door County in the off season. If you like the hustle and bustle of small towns gorging at the sides with out of state plates, Door County is a better fit. I personally love Oconto, Forest and Marinette Counties and the state forests you'll find in that part of the state. Door County has cherries, but visit anyone of the above mentioned counties for green space, walking trails, supper clubs and gateway to the U.P. as mentioned before.



Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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8,083 posts
37 reviews
7. Re: 1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

From my 2012 fall road trip to the St Croix River area and along the river(s) between MN and WI . . . igougo.com/journal-j77284-St._Croix_Falls-Th… . This journal includes reviews of things to do/see plus photos.

3rd Chaise to the...
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1,490 posts
34 reviews
8. Re: 1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

As has been mentioned, the timing of the best colors will vary. the more flexible you can be on dates, the better. By August you should be able to better pinpoint when the viewing will be the best.

Also, what other interests do you have? That may prompt some additional directions and destinations.

Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
425 posts
61 reviews
9. Re: 1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

The last year we lived in MInnesota we did the Duluth northward drive for fall colors. Amazing. So many state parks to stop and hike in. We stayed in the town of Lutsen which was convenient for heading north and south to the various state parks. We multiple times stayed in the Poplar River Condos at Lutsen. We stayed in Lutsen lodge once but found the condos (which is part of the resort) more quiet and we didn't mind the walk down the steps over to the main lodge for food/drinks. I do believe the colors that far north peak on the earlier side- mid to late September if I recall correctly.

In Wisconsin, Devil's Lake about 50 minutes outside of Madison is very nice too. Peak there later- maybe mid October. Like someone else said, kind of depends what else you want to do, when you want to come and how long you want to stay.

St. Louis
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195 posts
64 reviews
10. Re: 1st timer planning a fall foliage trip to Wisconsin/Minnesot

I suppose I could consider myself somewhat of a “Leaf Guru”. We (wife included) have followed the foliage from Nova Scotia through New England, down the Appalachians (VA, both Carolinas, and GA). Throw in Colorado and Utah aspens and the Midwest. Been there and done it. That said, we still feel that some of the most spectacular leaf change and color is Northern Wisconsin (Up North .. Iron, Vilas, Onidia counties) and you should include the UP of MI. The combination of deciduous trees changing against the evergreens is awesome! As beautiful as ANY place we've been!

As the others have said, WHEN the leaves go peak is up to Mother Nature and has varied over the years but “usually” the 1st week in Oct (often LATE Sept) prove to be consistently good times. It might be worth starting in MN as I would suppose fall would be a bit earlier (post on the MN forum) and then head south & east to North-Central WI. Recommended places to stay would be Minocqua (they have “Beef-A-Rama last weekend of Sept) or Boulder Junction. Most of the smaller townships have a “Color-Rama Weekend” last week of Sept. An excellent day trip would have you head up the Porkies ON Lake Superior. Usually a colorful drive through MI’s Upper Peninsula ending with excellent views of the “Lake of the Clouds” and “Superior”.

REALLY beautiful and fun 2 lane “Rustic Roads” wind through the area and are worth exploring. You could then work your way downstate and follow the change southward. Have Fun!~!