Where to go: Gorgeous golds as the tamarack and aspen are peaking! Blend that with the rich red-brown of the Red oak and the deep green of the pines and the combination of colors is stunning. Views across lakes offer the best display for these trees along ridgelines. Hiking Deer Park, Eagle Scout and Dr. Roberts takes you through a range for forest types. Climbing the Aiton Heights Fire Tower will offer views of the oaks and aspen. Tamaracks are now at peak. Touring past wetlands and lake along the South Entrance Road or along Wilderness Drive will reveal these golden colored conifers. For a longer car tour, view the lovely colors by following the roads along the park boundary. Highways 113, 71 and 200 offer lovely views of the colors along the lakes and wetlands. The South entrance road is peak with color.
What you'll see:
Trees: The grand finale for our autumn colors are the rich red-brown, orange, and gold as seen in the red oak, trembling and big-tooth aspen and the tamaracks. Enjoy the various shades of gold in the aspen, ironwood and tamarack s they are accented by the rich green of pine and spruce. A hike along the Dr. Roberts Trail will reveal the rich golds of the tamaracks.
Shrubs: Recent wind and rain has taken down most of the leaves in the shrub layer. A few small young maples are still showing soft yellow leaves.
Flowers: Many of the autumn flower species are past peak.
Typical Peak Color: Itasca has two main waves of color change.
Maple/Birch/Basswood/Dogwoods and other shrubs Typically peak the last week of September. These trees are past peak.
Oak/Aspen Typically peak the first and second weeks of October. These trees are just past peak, though the south end of the park is stunning.
Tamarack Typically peak the second or third week of October. Now at peak.
Also of interest: The bike trail is now open! Why not enjoy the remaining autumn display by bike.
Last updated: October 13, 2014
Animals: Animals are on the move! Various sparrow species are seen feeding in the shrub and ground layers. Slate-colored juncos and flocks of robins are passing through the park. Ruffed grouse can be seen along roadways. Blue-spotted and Tiger salamanders are seen crossing roadways. Adult and immature bald eagles are busy along roadways feeding on roadkill. Trumpeter swans and cygnets grace the park lakes, as they swim through the remaining autumn reflections. Waterfowl can be seen in the evening as they land in the wild rice beds. Watch for hooded mergansers and mallards. Ring-necked ducks are also landing on park lakes. Watch for flocks of wild turkeys as they feed along the shoulders of the park roads in early morning. Red and Gray squirrels and chipmunks are continuing to collect seeds for their winter food stash. White-tailed deer are active at dawn and dusk. Male white-tails displaying polished antlers. Porcupines are on the move, seen walking along roadways and trails during the day.
Canít decide between a one-day or year-round park permit? The DNR has a special offer that can help. Start by purchasing a one-day permit for $5 and visit as many state parks as possible. After visiting the state parks, trade in the one-day permit by the end of that day and get $5 off the purchase of a year-round permit. Year-round permits, which cost $25, provide unlimited access to all 76 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for a full year from the month of purchase.
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36750 Main Park Drive
South entrance to the park is 23 miles north of Park Rapids on U.S. Highway 71. From Bemidji, the east entrance is 30 miles south on U.S. Hwy 71 and 1/10 mile north on State Hwy 200. The north entrance is 21 miles south of Bagley on State Hwy 92/State Hwy 200.
GPS device users: Lat. 47.194648 Long. -95.165012
Best time to contact the park:
Memorial Weekend thru first Saturday in October: Daily, 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. Beginning first Sunday in October thru Thursday before Memorial Weekend: Daily 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.