Fall colors: where to catch the final glimpses of autumn

- This past week, autumn has felt more like summer. The rise in temperatures came at the perfect time for fall color gazing, as the Minnesota foliage gave its last hurrah.

According to the DNR's fall color tracker, most of the state reached peak colors this week, or is already past peak.

Like every year, the northern parts of the state are the first to turn, and the first to fall.  But don't despair, if you haven't had the chance to take an autumn drive, there are still some pockets where the vivid colors remain.

The southeastern corner of the state following the St. Croix river is particularly beautiful right now. Only 50 to 75 percent of the area's foliage has turned so far.

Places like Afton State Park, Frontenac State Park and John A. Latsch State Park are in this pocket.

Other southern parts of the state are on their last legs, with over 75 percent of the trees changed. The prairie grasses themselves are past peak, but the trees are still vibrant, at least for the rest of the week.

Compared to past years, the colors have stuck around longer than usual. in 2015, the majority of the state was past peak by now, not just the north.

The DNR's website describes why this may be the case, detailing how weather is the most critical factor in determining the colors each fall.

If the summer is cool and rainy, colors are likely to show prematurely. The northern border of the state usually sees peak color in mid to late September, whereas the southern border doesn't typically peak until mid-October.

A dry summer will produce a more subtle landscape of colors, as opposed to the expected vibrant reds, yellows and oranges. Instead, the trees will look more tan, bronze and auburn.

The perfect combination is a warm, moist summer followed by sunny, cool fall days.

For now, the DNR has released a list of the best places to see the fall colors this week while the weather is still ideal:

75 TO 100 PERCENT OF TREES CHANGED:

  Afton State Park

  Big Bog State Recreation Area

  Big Stone Lake State Park

  Blue Mounds State Park

  Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

  Fort Ridgely State Park

  Fort Snelling State Park

  Great River Bluffs State Park

  Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area

  Interstate State Park

  Kilen Woods State Park

  Lac Qui Parle State Park

  Lake Bemidji State Park

  Lake Maria State Park

  Minneopa State Park

  Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area

  Myre-Big Island State Park

  Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park

  Rice Lake State Park

  Sakatah Lake State Park

  Split Rock Creek State Park

  Upper Sioux Agency State Park

  Wild River State Park

  William O'Brien State Park

50 TO 75 PERCENT OF TREES CHANGED:

  Beaver Creek Valley State Park

  Carley State Park

  Frontenac State Park

  John A. Latsch State Park

  Whitewater State Park

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