Minnesota fall color reports

  • FALL

    A celebration of northern Minnesota fall colors and bounty at White Birch Resort! Enjoy a day in an authentic Minnesota small town with a seasonally decorated main streets, farmers markets, church and organization dinners, city wide garage sales, apple picking, football, pumpkin-flavored everything and fall color scenic driving tours means only mean one thing: Fall has arrived in Minnesota. This special season is short and sweet, so make the most of it by checking at least a few of these awesome autumn activities off your list. See Explore Minnesota “10 Things to do in Minnesota” at https://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/10-things-fall/ .

    1. Visit a pumpkin patch

    2. Pick your own apples

    3. Visit a museum

    4. Take a drive

    5. See a show

    6. Taste the local brew

    7. Cheer for the home team

    8. Attend a harvest festival

    9. Celebrate Oktoberfest

    10. Find Halloween fun

    Fall is also great time to get out and go for a bike ride, a fall marathon race, golfing and fall fishing. Take advantage of the cooler temperatures and go enjoy the beautiful fall colors.  Fall is a gorgeous time of year at White Birch Resort. There's nothing that Minnesota Fall Colors can compare with the beauty of the northwoods as seen from a boat or pontoon on Blackduck Lake. The shorter days, cooler temperatures, brilliant fall colors, and lack of mosquitoes all come together to make this the best time of year to sit back and relax on vacation or try your hand at some world-class fall hunting and fishing.

    With some of the deepest, clearest lakes in the state, the north-woods of Minnesota offers a great spring, summer, fall.  Great reproduction rates, state fishery stocking efforts, and sensible catch limits, make our area exciting to fish for the beginner to the professional fisher-person. Blackduck Lake and surrounding lakes are known for walleye, bass, perch, northern pike, muskie, crappie and bluegill fishing. Blackduck Lake has been rated as a “Top 10 Walleye” fishing for those avid fisherman.

    There are also designated trout lakes and streams and bass and muskie managed lakes here for the serious or casual fisherman. Just 16 miles east of Bemidji you’ll find 9 picturesque lakes connected through the Cass Lake chain. There are many public piers on many lakes. Bemidji Lake even has a new kids fishing pier, which are handicap accessible and offer families a great fishing outing without needing a boat. Your fishing expedition in the Blackduck and Bemidji Lakes Area will certainly be an unforgettable adventure. See business listing for guide services and calendar for area tournaments.

    Visiting Bemidji

    History of Bemidji - Bemidji is the county seat of Beltrami County and was organized in 1896. The name is derived from the Ojibwe (Chippewa) Indian words Bay – me – ji – gamaug, meaning a lake with water (river) flowing through. In 1835, early explorers referred to Bemidji as Pamitchi. In the early 1890’s a small settlement grew up around the Carson Trading Post, which was located on the south shore of Lake Bemidji. By 1900, Bemidji had 2,183 inhabitants. Logging was the principle concern of the people in the early 1900’s furnishing direct income and employment. It also attracted railroads, and railroad right-of-ways determined the location of emerging towns. Bemidji has matured into a highly diversified region that continues to grow in a fast-paced world. To learn more about the history of Bemidji, please visit www.beltramyhistory.org .

    Historical & Cultural - American Indians to Scandinavians. Scholars to lumberjacks. Artisans to outdoor enthusiasts. It is this diversity of interests and cultures growing together in our Northwoods that make Bemidji such an amazing place to visit. Proudly, Bemidji offers a variety of ways for visitors to learn more about the history of what drew people of such diversity to Bemidji to settle and culturally celebrate together. It’s a cultural history that makes for such an interesting story, an interesting city and great visit!  http://www.visitbemidji.com/what-to-do/historical-cultural/.  Distance: 27 mins. away

    First City on the Mississippi

    Bemidji… The First City on the Mississippi – where this historic river begins its 2,552 mile journey to rendezvous with the famed city of New Orleans. Legend promises those who step across the Mississippi River at its source will live a long and fruitful life, and that great riches will come to them. With twenty-five percent of Minnesota’s recreational lakes found here, the mighty Mississippi is just one of many, famous sky blue waters to be enjoyed in Bemidji.

    Paul Bunyan & Babe at the Tourist Information Center

    Located on shore of Lake Bemidji stands the historic statues of the legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, proudly welcoming visitors to the Tourist Information Center, a state of Minnesota Travel Affiliate. Open year around, the Information Center displays Paul Bunyan memorabilia (sure to bring a grin) and the nationally known historic Fireplace of States constructed using 900 rocks from every state in the union, and every province in Canada.


    Bemidji Tourist Information Center

    Located on the shores of Lake Bemidji, where Paul and Babe grandly welcome you, is the Bemidji Tourist Information Center (TIC), a State of Minnesota Travel Affiliate. Distance: 27 mins. away

    Everyone makes an outside stop here, of course, to get their photo taken with the famous Paul and Babe. But a visit inside the Tourist Information Center is a must, as well.  Home to the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce, the Center is the source for information on everything Bemidji– events, attractions and more. Tour through the Bemidji TIC and you’ll discover artifacts of the town’s beloved lumberjack legend– an eclectic mix that include items as Paul’s boxer shorts, toothbrush and much more.

    In addition to Paul’s artifacts, the Center features the historic Fireplace of States, built with 900 stones from every state in the United States (apart from Alaska and Hawaii, which weren’t states when the fireplace was built), from most every Canadian province, as well as every Minnesota county and a host of national parks.

    The Bemidji Tourist Information Center is also a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the scenic beauty of Lake Bemidji in a park setting. Outside amenities include a gazebo, playground, grassy picnic area, wildlife, and sculptures of Chief Bemidji and Niiemii, meaning “he dances” which is a tribute dedicated to all pow wow dancers.

    History of the Fireplace of States

    It was the 1920’s when Harry E. Roese, owner of the Shorecrest Resort known for their classy dance pavilion, began collecting stones from around the state with the intent to use them for a giant fireplace at his resort on Birchmont Drive, along Lake Bemidji. His grand idea was to build a fireplace containing rocks from every state in the union, from every Canadian province, from all 87 Minnesota counties, and from all the national parks.

    With the help of Miss Kathleen Wilson, a secretary in Harry’s office, they wrote hundreds of letters to state governors and officials, Canadian provincial governors, high ranking officials at our nation’s state parks, and even the President of the US, soliciting stones to be used in the fireplace’s construction. To their astonishment, the rocks came tumbling in. Each was numbered so an identification key could be compiled, in addititon to the inscriptions that came on many of the stones.

    As the collection was amassed, Harry caught the attention of the US Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA). The chief goal of the WPA was to put people to work during the Great Depression, often building roads, structures, water towers, etc. In fact, many of the structures of Minnesota’s state parks exhibit a signature WPA style, traditionally hand-cut field stones and mortar construction. (For more on WPA, see Camp Rabideau)

    During 1934-35, things fell into place under the guidance of the WPA. The fireplace was built as part of the octagonal Bunyan House on Lake Bemidji. The idea for the original log building to house the fireplace, and the type of architecture used which was early “American blockhouse,” with hand hewn shingles (called “shakes), was proposed by Roese himself. Charles Budge was the local architect who drew the plans, and Mark Morse was the stone mason in charge of building and designing the fireplace. (Other pieces of Mark’s stonework can be still be seen– the Bemidji State University outdoor fireplace and the Greenwood Cemetery pillars).

    For decades tourists admired the great Fireplace of States with its 900 rocks. It was in an interview fifty years after the feat, that Miss Wilson expressed how she still marveled at how willing people were to send their rocks to Bemidji, especially considering the costs to ship such heavy rocks!

    By the mid-1990s, the Bunyan House fell to the ravages of time and needed to come down. But the great Fireplace of States was to be saved! So segmented, shrink wrapped, and moved with a crane it still rests in the Tourist Information Center, housed next to the infamous 1937 statues, where it remains today to be enjoyed.

    Birthplace of Paul and Babe

    Proudly standing along the shore of Lake Bemidji at the Tourist Information Center, the statues are recognized as the second most photographed icon in the nation, and Bemidji is honored as the birthplace of this famous lumberjack and his pal. Evidence of this honored distinction is woven throughout Bemidji’s history and still found in Bemidji’s lifestyle.


    Building the Legend

    As some stories go, the idea of building a giant statue of the town’s lumberjack son was conceived over sharing a pint (or two). 737 man hours, and 2.5 tons later, a national tourism legend was proudly born. After more than 50 years of towering Lake Bemidji, the statues were officially honored by the National Parks Service as a cultural resource worthy of preservation, adding them to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are recognized as the second most photographed roadside attraction in the nation.

    Paul & Babe

    Big as a mountain and strong as a grizzly bear… that’s how the folks here describe the local folk hero Paul Bunyan. As legend goes, the birthplace of the greatest lumberjack to swagger through the North American forests is claimed by Bemidji, Minnesota, a distinction fondly marked with a statue built along the shore of Lake Bemidji in honor of the town’s most famous son. Today the statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are historically recognized as Minnesota’s first and best-known example of “roadside colossus,” with Bemidji honored as “pioneers” in promoting tourism in northern Minnesota.

    Learn more about this noted accomplishment, and the legendary stories of Paul and Babe.  http://www.visitbemidji.com/what-to-do/historical-cultural/paul-bunyan/. Distance: 27 mins. away

    Chief Bemidji Statue at Lake Bemidji

    As a child “Shaynowishkung” went on many trips up the Mississippi River with his father to the Bemidji area. Upon reaching adulthood, Shaynowishkung became the first to permanently settle on the shore of Lake Bemidji. Credited with helping the area’s first white settlers survive and respected by both the Indians and settlers for his gentleness, friendliness and fairness to all people, Shaynowishkung was honored with the title of “Chief Bemidji.” Today, a bronze statue dedicated to Chief Bemidji, honoring the Anishinabe people, stands overlooking Lake Bemidji in Library Park.  Distance: 27 mins. away

    On the Water

    Each of the Bemidji area waterways — from lake to river, pond to bog– brings a distinctive personality to the area, with park water programs to educate and entertain. Blackduck Lake and surrounding area lakes also provide habitat for a variety of wildlife including beavers, muskrats, trumpeter swans, mallards, blue herons, wood ducks, Canadian geese and the state bird – the loon, as well as our national symbol, the eagle. And with Lake Bemidji central to the area’s culture, there are plenty of unique lake activities and events to join in during the Fall months. http://www.visitbemidji.com/what-to-do/on-the-water/

    Boating & Pontooning

    You can't beat those crisp, calm fall days fishing or pontooning.   Lake Bemidji has been distinguished by Conde Nast Traveler as “one of America’s top 100 swimming holes” citing water quality and cleanliness as top attributes. Lake Bemidji itself has six public boat accesses and four public swimming beaches as well as several rental options. 


    There are a lot of reason for you to bike Bemidji…and the League of American Bicyclists agrees. Since 2012 Bemidji has been distinguished as a Bronze level “Bicycle Friendly Community,” one of the first Mississippi River Trail communities in Minnesota to be so awarded.  Peddle off in any direction on one of Bemidji’s eight varied bike trails, ranging from six to 160 miles. Many trails are accessible right from your lodging doorstep! Explore a city route around downtown Bemidji, or try a more challenging ride at an area park. Shuttles and Nice Ride bike rentals available.

    Bring your own bike, or choose one from Bemidji’s Nice Ride bike rentals, a standard rental service with three locations offering bikes for rent by the hour, day or week. Area shuttle service is available and some terrific bike events are held throughout the year. http://bemidji.niceridemn.org/locations/

    Rentals are also available at Ruttger’s Lodge, Bemidji State University’s Outdoor Center and Itasca Sports in Itasca State Park. Biking maps are available by calling (800) 458-2223 or stopping by the Bemidji Tourist Information Center.


    Paul Bunyan State Trail

    The longest paved rail-to-trail in the country takes you 115 miles, traveling from Bemidji to Brainerd and has bragging rights for being the longest paved trail in Minnesota. Join us with your own bike, or ride one of our bikes and enjoy this leisure-filled 12-mile ride with family and friends! The trailhead begins at Lake Bemidji State Park, thought to be the most scenic section of the trail as it winds through the forested park, crossing the Mississippi River, and skirting the east shore of Lake Bemidji and accessible at many points. For fitness, fun, or both, the trail offers excellent opportunities for in-line skating, running, and walking. Trail mile markers help you establish how far you have traveled so you can plan your adventure and gauge your distance.

    Mississippi River Trail – MRT

    A world-class bicycling route, MRT travels from the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca in Minnesota all the way to the Delta at the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. It is a 3,000-mile system of bicycle- friendly roads and multi-use pathways that connects 10 states.

    Lake Bemidji State Park

    Grab a rental from the Nice Ride bike rental located at Lake Bemidji State Park and enjoy either the Park’s lakeside paved trails or connect to the 115 mile Paul Bunyan Trail. The Park also features five mile of fun mountain bike loops.

    Print Bike Map PDF

    More about Lake Bemidji State Park

    Loop the Lake

    Family-friendly event held annually in June to celebrate Bemidji’s designation as a “Bike Friendly” community. Includes a 17 mile ride around Lake Bemidji with rest stops along the way. Enjoy food, music and activities throughout the celebration.

    Movil Maze

    A network of mountain bike trails constructed utilizing varying terrain features and man-made structures. These single-track trails are regionally recognized as being challenging to all skill levels.

    Chippewa National Forest

    Biking enthusiasts can enjoy peddling either 41 miles of paved bike trails that line the west side of the forest, or 43 miles of unpaved mountain bike trails on the forest’s east side. Of particular interest is the beautiful Migizi Trail. Ojibwe for “bald eagle,” this 19-mile paved trail loops through the big red pines of the original Ten Section of the Chippewa National Forest.

    More about Chippewa National Forest biking trails

    See Minnesota DNR

    Walking & Hiking

    Enjoy a beautiful hiking trail just about anywhere in Blackduck and Bemidji – from a walk thru Pine Tree State Park to a tour along the shore of Lake Bemidji or to a mile-long boardwalk at the Big Bog State Recreation Area. There are more than 12 miles of trails at Lake Bemidji State Park or journey a deep forest trail to view virgin red pine over 200 years old at Itasca State Park.

    It is no surprise that Bemidji was named as a Governor’s Fit City in 2009, with all the plentiful hiking trails enjoyed by both young and old! Bemidji has trails to take you through the heart of the forest where you can view rare plants and wildlife. And all around Lake Bemidji and through Bemidji’s downtown area are strolling opportunities to view unique art sculptures, and calm the soul taking you to magnificent river and lake views.


    Lake Bemidji State Park

    11 miles of easy to moderate trails will take you through areas of maturing pine, aspen and hardwoods. A quiet hike on one of the Park trails can yield a glimpse of a doe with her fawn, a porcupine having lunch halfway up a jack pine, or even an occasional wolf or black bear– all making it hard to believe how close you are to the city. Two miles of the park’s trails are also wheelchair accessible.

    Rocky Point Overlook with its spectacular view high over Lake Bemidji is one of the most popular Park destinations. The Rocky Point Trail runs along the lakeshore, gaining in elevation as it rises to a bluff where visitors enjoy the observation deck replete with exhibits and benches.

    More about Lake Bemidji State Park

    Itasca State Park

    49 miles of trails take hikers through some of the most scenic parts of the park.

    The trail below Douglas Lodge that runs to the Old Timer’s Cabin is a wheelchair accessible boardwalk. This portion is part of the Dr. Roberts Trail. Great for orchid viewing during spring/summer.  Self Guided.  3.25 Miles.

    A guide for the Dr. Roberts Trail is available at the trail head. Landmark trail has interpretive signs throughout. The Forestry Demonstration Trail and the Blow-down Trail are also self-guided trails. The Aiton Heights Fire Tower includes interpretive information and signs.

    Wheelchair Accessible.  1.5 Miles.  Accessible trails include the Headwaters Loop Trail and Doctor Roberts Trail that takes you to the Old Timer’s Cabin.

    More about Itasca State Park

    Chippewa National Forest

    There is no better way to see the Chippewa National Forest than on a trail with enjoyable options for both backpacking and day hiking enthusiasts. The forest offers 26 non-motorized trails totaling 298 miles. Trails range from a half-mile to a 68 mile portion of the 3,200 mile North Country Trail that traverses from New York to North Dakota. Depending on the time of year, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries can all be found along the way for the picking.

    More about Chippewa National Forest

    Big Bog

    Big Bog Recreation State Park has been called Minnesota’s last true wilderness. This unique land feature land feature contains the largest, best developed water track in the United States. The Big Bog lies in the middle of the Agassiz lowland landscape region and is over 50 miles long, 12 miles wide has the largest peat bog in the lower 48 states. this 500-square-mile peat bog is the largest of its kind in the lower 48 states and is located north of Bemidji and northeast of Upper Red Lake and Waskish.

    A mile-long boardwalk offers visitors a first-hand look at unique plant and animal life. From orchids to carnivorous plants and plentiful birds, visitors will see a mixture of the fascinating and rare. A source of medicinal plants for the Ojibwe Indians, the bog represented a barrier to European settlers who tried in vain to drain it. Today, many of the native plants include yellow-eyed grass, bog rush and two kinds of sun dews, many on Minnesota’s endangered or threatened species list. The walk is constructed of a composite grating that allows 60 percent of the sunlight to penetrate through to the lush vegetation below the boardwalk. The boardwalk is wheelchair accessible and visitors can proceed into the bog at their own pace.

    Around Town of Bemidji

    Your starting point for any of these downtown trails is the Tourist Information Center, where there is plenty of parking. Some of the key routes include the following.

    Built in 2008 is Bemidji’s East-West Trail – 2.45 miles in length located on an abandon railroad right-of-way. The trail offers a pleasant experience ranging from a more urban character in the downtown leg to a more rural and natural character as it heads west to connect to the Paul Bunyan State Trail.

    The Bemidji Wellness Walks includes three routes:
    Lunchbox Walk is a 1.5 mile route along the lake that can begin and end at the statues of Paul Bunyan & Babe.

    Downtown Loop is just a bit longer than the Lunchbox at 2 miles, also taking hikers along the west shore of Lake Bemidji.

    Diamond Point Challenge is a 5K route that shows all the best parts of Bemidji. Starting at the statues of Paul & Babe, following the west shore of Lake Bemidji, this route provides an important connection from the downtown area to Diamond Point and Cameron Park. This lakeside trail offers beautiful views as you travel through the Bemidji State University campus.

    Sculpture Walk

    Along the lake and throughout downtown is the Bemidji sculpture walk, named in 2015 as one of the five “Best Art Walks in Minnesota” by WCCO/CBS Minnesota. Over 25 sculptures created by well-known artists and are on loan to the community for one year and are displayed in the beautiful historical downtown Bemidji. We encourage you to walk the streets and discover art on every corner. If you find something you like, you can purchase it for yourself or contribute to the purchase of art to become part of the permanent collection. Each sculpture is carefully chosen and many reflect some aspect of Minnesota life. The sculpture walk is free and changes annually, inviting new reasons to go back often. Supported by the community and curated by volunteers, the art walk is a favorite Bemidji attraction. Begin your tour at the Tourist Information Center where free parking and maps are available. For more information, please visit www.bemidjisculpture.org or email at bemidjisculpture@gmail.com.  Distance: 27 mins. away

    Norway Beach Information Center

    Visitors often just stroll through the Norway Beach Information Center to enjoy the unique Civilian Conservation Corps construction, and to admire the stone fireplace. A hub of activity, the Center offers weekly summer naturalist program that range from wildflower hikes to discovering water critters, and even a loon calling contest. Outdoor related arts and crafts programs and Smokey Bear’s Birthday are not to be missed events. The Center’s gift store offers books, insect nets, and other outdoor related items.

    Lost 40

    If you seek a remote, restorative place of peace and quiet, one that bears witness to our heritage, plan to hike the easily accessible 144 acres called the “Lost Forty.” Due to an 1882 mapping error, these towering pines were mapped as a body of water, and therefore untouched by loggers and developers. The trees today remain as remnants of the natural resources that drew people to the new frontiers; shaping America’s character. Most of the mature red and white pines are found on the east end of the Lost Forty. A one-mile self-guided trail takes you through these majestic red and white pine, some as old as 300 to 400 years, and ranging from 22 to 48 inches in diameter. Carry-in boat allows access to Coddington Lake. The Lost Forty’s timber only escaped the logging saws due to a mapping error. It indicated that the area was under water. The Lost Forty, located in the Chippewa National Forest just northeast of Blackduck, will continue its old growth character.  Distance: 15 mins. away


    An outdoor treasure hunting adventure, with many fun-to-find geocaches, are to be enjoyed in the Bemidji area. From easy-to-access hides downtown, to more challenging searches at Lake Bemidji State Park and the surrounding area. Visit www.geocaching.com by zip code 56601.

    More information on Lake Bemidji State Park


    With over 200 species of birds that include the beloved loon and the largest nesting population of Bald Eagles in continental US, the Bemidji region’s natural beauty provides endless hours of birding observation and enjoyment. Bemidji is named the hub of Minnesota’s bird watching specifically because of the opportunities afforded by the biodiversity of the land. The varied natural landscapes found within the Bemidji region include: PEAT LANDS and conifer bogs which are populated by species that include Sharp-tailed Grouse, Great Gray Owls and Connecticut Warblers. Minnesota’s last remnants of PRAIRIE TRACT are also located near Bemidji, where you can view Prairie Chicken, Meadowlarks and Sandhill Cranes. ANCIENT PINES are a special feature of Bemidji and house a host of migratory species that include a variety of Warblers, Woodpeckers, Sparrows and Hawks. Bemidji’s NORTHERN HARDWOODS (sugar maple, basswood and red oak) are prominent in the area and provide homes to Golden-winged Warblers, Least Flycatchers and the Yellow Billed Cuckoo, just to name a few.

    A list of birding hot spots that include viewing locations ranging from just minutes to up to an hour from most area lodging facilities, is available to help you explore.

    More information on birding in Chippewa National Forest

    Disc Golf

    Located in Bemidji’s 80-acre City Park, this 18-hole course is one of the best disc golf courses in northern Minnesota. Beginner friendly yet still exciting for more experienced players. Multiple tee pads, wooded holes and water hazards give each hole a new and different challenge.

    The True Northwoods

    The forests surrounding Blackduck and Bemidji form the pristine heart of the northwoods. Add the over 2,400 sparkling waterways and a Continental Divide, and you have beautiful, breathtaking vistas to be viewed around every corner. Visit the oldest national forest, the Chippewa National Forest with 1.5 million acres and 78 miles of non-motorized recreational trails. The Lost Forty offers a rare glimpse of an untouched area of northwoods forest. The hiking paths found at Itasca State Park (Minnesota’s oldest and most popular state park) and Lake Bemidji State Park (located minutes from downtown Bemidji), each have some of the most breathtaking vistas to be found anywhere.

    Lake Bemidji State Park

    Welcome to Lake Bemidji State Park! Located minutes from downtown on the north shore of Lake Bemidji, the park attracts visitors for not only it’s unmatched variety of outdoor activities in all seasons, but also for the park’s unique, natural botanical wetland preserve, the Bog Boardwalk. Lake Bemidji State Park offers lakeside picnic grounds with shelters, a swimming beach, plus a paved boat launch with marina. The park is the northern trailhead for Paul Bunyan State Trail, Minnesota’s longest state trail enjoyed by bikers and snowmobilers alike. Interpretive programs in the summer include morning hikes, boat tours of Lake Bemidji, evening films, and campfire talks. Winter programs include snowshoeing, skiing by candlelight and animal tracking. Geocaching in all seasons is a favorite park activity, too!  http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/lake_bemidji/index.html.  Distance: 25 mins. away

    Chippewa National Forest

    Chippewa National Forest is the country’s very first national forest, established east of the Mississippi River in 1908. Originally known as the Minnesota National Forest, the name was changed in 1928 to honor the original inhabitants. The forest boundary encompasses 1.6 million acres, has 700 lakes, 920 miles of streams, 150,000 acres of wetlands and approximately 665,000 acres managed by the USDA Forest Service. The forest's landscape is a reminder of the glaciers that blanketed northern Minnesota some 10,000 years ago. The National Forest also boasts the largest breeding population of bald eagles in the continental U.S., with 150 active nests found throughout the forest. With over 3000 archeological and historic sites, has a rich history that spans from prehistoric times to the early logging era and Civilian Conservation Corps days.

    The Chippewa National Forest makes maps available at the Blackduck Ranger Station for most of their hiking and biking trails, ranging from .5 to 68 miles. Some trails are known for their eagle viewing, others are self-guided nature tours. You are able to enjoy any one of these recreational activities while in the Chippewa National Forest: Bike, Hiking and Nature Trails, Camping, Canoeing, ATV, Fishing, XC Skiing, Hunting, Scenic Byways and Snowmobiling

    Amazing Wildlife Viewing

    Bounded by three major vegetative communities; the coniferous forest (pine, spruce, and balsam fir) to the north, the hardwoods (aspen, birch, oak and maple) to the south, and the prairie to the west, Chippewa’s diverse ecosystem provides the unique opportunity to glimpse some rare and sensitive wildlife. Over 300 species make their home on the Chippewa National Forest… Birding is exceptional in all seasons, particularly the bald eagle. Over 180 nesting pairs of this magnificent bird live among the pines and lakes of the forest making it the highest breeding population of bald eagles in the lower 48 Unites States! Timberwolves, osprey, loon and great grey owl also make Chippewa their home. The secretive gray wolf and Canada lynx are also present, but a rare sighting.

    Home of the Capitol Christmas Tree

    On November 2, amid great fanfare, an 80-foot plus white spruce left Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest on a journey to Washington D.C., to become the 2014 US Capitol Christmas Tree. The journey began at Itasca State Park where the tree received a drink of water from the headwaters of the Mississippi River via a horse-drawn wagon. Along the way, the tree caravan stopped in over 30 communities reaching over 45,000 people, young and old, proudly representing Minnesota and the natural beauty of the Chippewa National Forest.  Distance: 15 mins. away

    Itasca State Park

    Established in 1891 to preserve remnant stands of virgin pine, Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park and the second oldest in the United States behind Niagra Falls. Totaling more than 32,000 acres, with more than 100 lakes, it is here where the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi begins its 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Beautiful in all seasons, events, activities and naturalist programs available year-round.

    At this park you can actually walk across a path of rocks over the Mississippi River by foot. Facilities include The Headwaters History Center, Douglas Lodge and the Museum. Amenities include large stands of pine, paved bike trails, Wilderness Drive, U of M Forestry and Biological Stations, Indian cemetery, and Peace Pipe Vista, and endless miles of hiking trails. You are able to enjoy any one of these recreational activities while in the Itasca State Park: Bike and Hiking and Nature Trails, Swimming, Playing, Camping, XC Skiing, Snowmobiling and Snowshoeing. On site bike rentals can be arranged while spending a day at the park. Click on www.itascasports.com for rental information.  Distance: 55 mins. away

    Camp Rabideau

    In 1934, Camp Rabideau, located six miles south of Blackduck, was one of 2,650 Civilian Conservation Camps established by Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide work and skills to unemployed men scraping by during the Great Depression. Projects included surveying, building roads, bridges, trails and fire towers, tree planting and fire-fighting. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, Camp Rabideau is one of only three remaining camps being preserved. Many of these camps are still in use today. Today, 15 of the original 25 buildings remain and 4 are maintained to honor those who served as CCC corpsmen. Interpretive displays highlight the buildings and history of the area. Civilian Conservation Corps’ Camp Rabideau tours are available by calling Ken and Betty Ess at (218) 835-4291. Today visitors can see and learn more about this era through interpretive displays highlighting buildings and history of the area and a self-guided one-mile trail runs through the camp. Hosts are available to give tours. Picnic shelter on-site. The camp is located County Road 39 in Blackduck and tours are conducted Sunday and Wednesdays.  Distance: 6 mins. away

    More information on Chippewa National Forest

    Pow Wows

    Pow-Wows which are a Native American tradition are religious and social gatherings that bring together traditional dancers outfitted in historic dress and colors. Dancers come from all over the United States and Canada. The grand entry march that begins each Pow-Wow is a spectacular display of colorful outfits with traditional meaning associated with the earth, birds, and wildlife.

    Since 1973, freestyle steps of toddlers commingle with the trained traditional footwork of elders as hundreds of dancers display their talents at the annual Spring and Fall Pow Wow. Dressed in full regalia, dancers perform jingle dress, fancy shawl, women’s traditional, men’s traditional, grass and chicken dance styles, all accompanied by the beat of traditional drum circles. Vendor wares include handmade blankets, beadwork, jewelry and dreamcatchers, with traditional foods and fry bread tacos. Open to the non-native public, this event is a fun learning experience for all.

    This Native American Indian event calendar for Minnesota Powwows is a free service of Crazy Crow Trading Post. http://www.crazycrow.com/site/minnesota-powwows/

    Concordia Language Villages

    Visit the cultural grounds of Concordia Language Villages on Turtle Lake, uniquely nestled in the Northwoods of Bemidji. From the moment you get your “passport” stamped and step into one of six architecturally and culturally authentic village sites, you will speak, eat, learn and play in the language and culture of your chosen village– Spanish, Finnish, Norwegian, German, Russian or French. Adult and child immersion programs, corporate and government training sessions, as well as educators and school group seminars, Concordia offers a host of programs that bring language to life. Special events to the tradition of the village you’re visiting are available. "International Day" held once in July and again in August gives the public an opportunity to visit and experience the villages. For information Contact: 218-586-8600 or 800-450-2214.  Distance: 23 mins. away

    International Day

    Twice each season a day-long festival of cultures called International Day is celebrated. Through dance, art, cooking and play, intercultural exchange of teach-learn-do is ongoing throughout the day. Each of the language villages (Spanish, Finnish, Norwegian, German, Russian or French) bring out their wares as they share ethnic food and a cultural performance. Festivities also include a Peace Site Ceremony, Global Market, International Bazaar, Global Art Show, Exhibitor Tent, plus World Class Soccer, along with rides, tours, activity zones and Closing Ceremony.

    Scenic Forested Drives

    Lady Slipper Scenic Byway is a 28-mile drive “over the river and through the woods” as it meanders County Road 39 through some of the most interesting areas of the Chippewa National Forest. The route features two interpretive sites – the first where the byway crosses the Mississippi River flowing from Cass Lake as a stream. The second at Pennington Bog where Minnesota’s state flower, the Showy Lady Slipper, can be viewed on full display in late June to early July.

    For more information on these routes and other Minnesota scenic byways, visit www.exploreminnesota.com.  Distance: 5 mins. away

    Amusement Parks

    For a unique twist, add a zip line ride through the pines on a character challenge course or pet a camel at Minnesota’s largest wildlife petting zoo to your itinerary. Bring your group for a variety of team building options or make that family vacation one they won’t forget!


    Devotion Paintball and Laser Tag

    Best course in northern Minnesota with six playing fields and full retail shop. Mobile option to bring the paintball or laser tag equipment to your indoor or outdoor location. Fields open any time by appointment.  Distance: 34 mins. away

    Character Challenge Course

    For a team building extreme challenge, or for thrill seekers, try a variety of obstacles towering 35’ in the air. Overcome fears, build confidence and develop trust with the 3G Swing, Power Plunge or 370’ zip line. Built in the pines and overlooking two beautiful lakes with safety system and highly trained facilitators. For information contact 218- 760-8442. Address :13218 County Road 40 Park Rapids, Minnesota 56470

    Bemidji State University Outdoor Program Center (OPC) & Equipment Rental Program 

    From a state of the art indoor climbing wall, to the Boathouse at Diamond Point Park on the shores of Lake Bemidji, to the pristine 240 acre Hobson Memorial Forest, those seeking adventure are sure to find something to get your heart beating.  The rock climbing wall, located in the Gillett Wellness Center, is one of the premier indoor rock climbing facilities north of the Twin Cities. Towering over 30 feet, it features routes for any skill level. Instructional clinics, as well as open climbing time and group rentals are all available.

    Join us for a pontoon lunch cruise, learn to sail, or try your hand at sea kayaking. From May through October, equipment rentals, clinics and summer trips are offered only feet from beautiful Lake Bemidji at the OPC Boathouse. Here you can rent equipment that includes a heavy duty canoe trailer, canoes, kayaks, bikes, sailboats, windsurfers, tents, sleeping bags, and back packs, just to name a few. The Boathouse also features a lakeside patio area, which provides a perfect spot to spend a summer afternoon on the lake. Rentals and activities are all available to the campus community as well as the public.

    The 240 acres of Hobson Memorial Forest was donated to Bemidji State University in 1948 for the purpose of outdoor recreation, education, and research. Managed by the OPC, the forest is equipped with an amphitheater, and two rustic log cabins which can be rented for a minimal fee. Hobson is also home to No Boundaries, a team building low ropes course facilitated by the OPC staff.

    Cross Country (Including Youth), Ice Skates, Snowshoes, Ice Fishing Equipment and Winter Camping Gear Rentals are available at Bemidji State University Outdoor Program Center (OPC). Private cross country ski lessons available. Call BSU for Daily/Weekend & Weekly Rates! Groups & Individuals! Affordable and convenient public rentals. Call for details. (27 mins. away.) Open 7 Days/week. Check out http://www.bemidjistate.edu/services/campus-recreation/outdoor-program-center/rentals/ for information on 2017 rentals. For more information please call the boathouse at 218-755-2999 or Mark Morrissey at 218-755-3900. Distance:  27 mins. away

    More information on boating
    Information on the Diamond Point Challenge 5K
    Information on XCountry Skiing Hobson Forest

    ATV Trails and Rentals

    Blackduck and Bemidji’s diverse landscape with its’ rough hilly terrain dotted with bogs and ponds are ideal for the ATV enthusiast. Challenge yourself on the Schoolcraft ATV trail, named one of the best trails in Minnesota, or follow the old Soo Line railroad on the Wilton Trails, Bemidji has a variety of skill levels to choose from.
    More information on Chippewa National Forest

    DNR Rules & Regulations: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/rlp/regulations/ohv/ohv_regs.pdf

    DNR ATV Trail Map: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/map.html

    Blackduck Bowling Lanes

    Enjoy a fun game of bowling in town of Blackduck located at Summit Avenue, Blackduck next door to Timberline Sports Shell Gas Station. Contact 218-835-6620 for information.  Distance: 3 mins. away

    Beltrami County History Center

    Housed in the historically restored 1912 Great Northern Depot in Bemidji is the Beltrami County History Center. Archives, collections, long and short term interpretive exhibits and educational programs together give visitors an opportunity to learn about the area’s railroad system, logging industry, Ojibwe life, the coming of pioneers, and even a historical view of northern Minnesota sports. Open Mon - Thurs 10am-5pm, Fri 10am-4pm. Open Saturdays May thru October 10am-4pm. Located at 130 Minnesota Ave SW, Bemidji. Contact 218-444-3376 for information.  Distance: 27 mins. away

    Golfers find some of the state’s most beautiful courses among towering pines and sparkling lakes. Many even catch a glimpse of a deer or two strolling across the fairway. Whatever their level of skill, golfers will enjoy playing at any of the 6 area courses, offering everything from challenging championship tournament level play to fun par-three short courses.

    Since 1924 Bemidji is host to the Birchmont Golf Tournament, held in summer on the shores of Lake Bemidji. Divisions include mens, women’s, junior, executive, senior men and masters. The Vandersluis Memorial Golf Tournament, an annual amateur golf tourney held over Labor Day weekend, is open to the public. The event has an international field with divisions for men, senior men and ladies. Always exciting play, past champions have included 1996 British Open Champion Tom Lehman.

    Blackduck Municipal Golf Course - 9 Hole

    5 (1)

    Blackduck, MN

    (218) 835-7757

    Distance: 2 mins. away

    Castle Highlands Golf Course – 18 Hole

    4.5 (8) · Golf Club

    Bemidji, MN

    (218) 586-2681

    Distance: 12 mins. away

    Bemidji Town and Country Club – 18 Hole

    3.9 (11) · Golf Course

    Bemidji, MN

    (218) 751-4535

    Open until 9:00 PM

    Greenwood Golf Course – 18 Hole

    4.5 (4) · Golf Shop

    Bemidji, MN

    (218) 751-3875

    Open until 8:00 PM

    Maple Ridge Golf Course – 18 Hole

    2.8 (6) · Sports Complex

    Bemidji, MN

    (218) 751-8401

    Dining Out

    While Minnesota is known for producing foods like wild rice, sweet corn and blueberries, the state’s drinkable crops are the ones making headlines. Breweries and wineries are the latest local craze. The Blackduck and Bemidji area offers an extensive range of breakfast, lunch and dinner options unique and varied for your individual tastes in food. When you're in a hurry, the list of fast food franchises awaits with all your favorites. When the occasion calls for either lively fun or more leisurely dining enjoyment, you'll find the area home to relaxed sports bars, family style restaurants, supper clubs as well as numerous fine dining establishments. The closest family style restaurants and supper clubs are as close as 2 miles away from White Birch Resort in Blackduck. Click on this list of local eateries. This is a selection.



    Grocery Stores & Convenient Stores

    Blackduck Family Foods/Super Value Located at 288 Frontage Rd. in Blackduck. This is a small tourist country grocery store. Call 218-835-4244 for hours and information.
    Distance: 5 mins. away

    Timberline Sport "N" ConvenienceLocated at 209 Summit Ave. SW in Blackduck. This is a bait store/gas station and convenient store which sells convenient foods, prepared pizzas and prepared subway sandwiches. Call 218-835-4636 for hours and information.
    Distance: 3 mins. away

    Wal-Mart Super Center Located at 2025 Paul Bunyan Dr. NW in Bemidji. Call 218-755-6120 for general store information.
    Distance: 27 mins. away

    Lueken’s Foods Paul Bunyan Dr. NW in Bemidji, MN

    Distance: 29 mins. away

    Marketplace Food and Drug Located at 2000 Paul Bunyan Dr. in Bemidji. Call 218-444-1406 for general store information.
    Distance: 27 mins. away

    Woodcarvers Festival
    In Blackduck, the annual Woodcarvers Festival is held the last Saturday of July and has grown into one of the area’s most impressive and well-attended shows. The festival hosts as many as 60 exhibitors from all over the United States. The woodcarvers display their work, swap carving tips, and share techniques. Local food, music, and raffles round out the day.  Distance: 5 mins. away


    The town of Blackduck has two parks, Wayside Park in town and Pine Tree State Park 2 ½ miles from White Birch Resort. City of Bemidji is home to nearly 20 family friendly parks. Diamond Point, Paul Bunyan Park, City Park and Cameron are cornerstone parks. Within these parks you will find access to pavilions and group shelters, 22,000 square foot skateboard park, outdoor hockey rink, trails, disc golf course, basketball courts, picnic areas, playgrounds, boat ramps and beautiful beaches. For more information on park availability, recreational opportunities or to book park facilities www.ci.bemidji.mn.us

    Pine Tree Park

    Pine Tree Park in Blackduck is a well-groomed park offered to the public for bird watching, nature walks, picnics and enjoying the children's playgrounds. If you are lucky enough, you just might be able to view one of Blackduck's longtime eagle families perched upon their nest, if you look close enough. It is also common to see deer wandering thru the park or loons and ducks swimming at the water’s edge. The park is located across the road to the West from the Blackduck Golf course and aside the Blackduck Public Water Access. Picnic shelters are located at each end of the park and toilet facilities are also provided.  Distance: 2 mins. away


    For those shopping enthusiasts, shopping can be explored in a wide range of stores, ranging from antique stores, boutiques shops, gift shops, shopping mall, outdoor specialty stores and grocery stores. A few of the favorites are local crafts, north country specialties and outdoor specialty stores. A few local favorite stores in the area can be found at Bemidji Woolen Mills, Morell's Chippewa Trading Post, The Old Schoolhouse and Lady Slipper Designs, Northlander Gifts, Anderson's Fabrics, Paul Bunyan Mall, Gander Mountain, Target and Wal-Mart. Great towns to spend a day of shopping can be found in the following:

    Blackduck Distance: 5 mins. away

    Bemidji Distance: 25 mins. away

    Deer River Distance: 45 mins. away

    Walker Distance: 60 mins. away

    Park Rapids Distance: 60 mins. away

    Click on this list below provided by the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce to give you a better idea of what stores you can choose from. This is a selection of local stores in the Blackduck/Bemidji area at http://business.bemidji.org/list/ql/shopping-specialty-retail-23 .


    Aunt Ellie’s Attic 1019 Washington Ave S. Bemidji MN 56601 218-444-4334

    Buy, Sell, Trade Collectibles, Antiques, Second hand Treasures.

    The Pioneer Store Hines, MN

    Back ‘n Time Antiques 1105 W 15th St. Bemidji MN 56601 218-759-0206

    Primitive country furniture, rustic lodge & cabin antiques. Folk art, Native American items.

    Grandma’s Attic Antique Mall 502 3rd St. NW Bemidji MN 56601 218-759-8931

    Antiques, Collectibles, Vintage & Repurposed merchandise.

    Ideal Pawn 265 Paul Bunyan Dr. NW Bemidji MN 56601 218-444-3325

    Pawn shop, pawn store loans, jewelry, collectible coins, etc.

    Mattie’s Menagerie 814 Beltrami Ave NW Bemidji MN 56601 218-755-1899

    Little antique store with a little of everything.

    North Country Trading Post 7205 Fairgrounds Rd NW Bemidji MN 56601 218-751-5922

    Antiques, Collectibles, Funky Junk

    Pawn USA 207 2nd St NW Bemidji MN 56601 218-444-7296

    Pawn shop, jewelry, collectible coins, clean and organized.

    Second Hand Splendor 301 3rd St NW Bemidji MN 56601 218- 209-3000

    Antiques &Vintage consignment store

    Forestedge Winery and Farm

    On the edge of the Paul Bunyan State Forest, Forestedge Winery and Farm in Laporte, MN offers it’s visitors a peaceful setting in the woods. At Forestedge Winery , wine makers Paul and Sharon Shuster and John Wildmo produce seven to eight thousand gallons of wine per year, but yet craft their wines in small batches. The winery produces nine different specialty single fruit wines as well as blended wines including Summer Blush (strawberry rhubarb), Headwaters Classic Red (chokecherry rhubarb), raspberry rhubarb, and blueberry rhubarb. All of these wines are available for tasting and sale in the winery tasting room.

    The winery is open May through December, six days a week and closed on Mondays. Tours are available and are designed to allow you to see how these fine wines are crafted, aged and bottled. Remember, "It's not just grapes that make fine wine!" As Paul bottles a batch of Forestedge Wines, craftsmanship and pride go into every bottle.

    Enjoy the gardens and cobblestone patio with a taste of Minnesota fruit wines and art gallery. Forestedge Winery carries a wide range of wine-related items and gifts. Open Mother's Day thru December Tuesday thru Saturday 10am-5:30pm and Sunday 12pm-5pm. Closed Mondays. For more information on Forestedge Winery and Farm, view website at www.forestedgewinery.com or contact 218-224-3535 Forestedge Winery is located at 35295 State 64 Laporte, MN 56461.  Distance: 46 mins. away

    Paul Bunyan Play House

    The Chief Theater is a performing arts venue featuring curated entertainment from around the world in its downtown Bemidji, Minnesota facility. Its resident production company, the Paul Bunyan Playhouse, is the oldest professional summer stock company in Minnesota, and draws actors from across the state, region, and country. The Chief is managed by a professional staff with the assistance of a volunteer board. Though global in the scope of its artists and programs, the Chief is the region’s year-round hub for the performing arts, surrounded by the Bemidji Community Arts Center, the Wild Rose Theater, and Bemidji State University. The Chief seats an intimate audience of 310 with Art Deco interiors and exposed structural components that pay homage to its history as a movie house while embracing its identity as a multi-purpose performing arts venue.

    The Paul Bunyan Playhouse is located in the historic Chief Theatre at 314 Beltrami Ave NW in downtown Bemidji, MN. Performances are scheduled throughout the year. Contact Ticket Box Office 218-751-7270. Performances are 8pm nightly except, NO performances on Monday & Tuesday. First Sunday of month offer matinee performances at 2 pm.  Distance: 27 mins. away


    Spend an evening challenging Lady Luck in one of the Northwoods Country’s three great casinos: Palace Casino, Norther Lights Casino, Shooting Star Casino, Red Lake Casino and White Oak Casino, courtesy of the Leech Lake Band of Objibwe.

    Shooting Star Casino, Bagley Distance: 45 mins. away

    Northern Lights Casino, Walker Distance: 40 mins. away

    Red Lake Casino, Red Lake Distance: 20 mins. away

    Palace Casino Hotel, Cass Lake Distance: 21 mins. away

    White Oak Casino, Deer River Distance: 45 mins. away

    Blue Ox Marathon

    The Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon offers several distances for those looking to run their first, furthest or fastest race.  The Oct. 13 & 14, 2017 weekend offers a 26.2-mile marathon, 3.1-mile 5K and 1K kids’ race. Secure online registration for all races is available through a link at www.bemidjiblueoxmarathon.com. Registration fees increase beginning May 1. The marathon website also includes course maps, descriptions and elevation charts for each race.


    With the turn of the leaves in the fall, the limitless hunting opportunities take center stage. The forests, lakes, and area farmlands provide habitat for deer, partridge, ruffed and sharp tail grouse, bear, duck, and geese. The result is hunters taking home plenty of game, memories, and stories. A serious business and passion, the Blackduck and Bemidji area remains the premier northern destination for hunters in pursuit of deer, grouse, waterfowl and more. Sportsmen can find some of the best hunting for trophy whitetail deer and black bear. Consider, too, taking a guided wolf or bear hunt, or try one of our area hunting preserves. Guides are available but should be contacted in advance. Whether it is big game, small game, or waterfowl you are after, there is a wide variety in Chippewa for your hunting pleasure.

    Night We Light Festival

    For the past 17 years, Bemidji kicks off the Holiday Season with the First City of Lights celebration. The event is held the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Night We Light Festival rings in the start of the holiday season with a parade filled with illuminated floats. The Lights of Bemidji Parade begins at 6 pm with over 60 floats covered with lights. Following the parade, the switch is thrown lighting the iconic Paul and Babe the Blue Ox statues, as well as brightening up the Bemidji downtown! Ornaments made during the event are hung on the Christmas tree in the Bemidji Visitors Center, and there is carol singing, food trucks on scene at the ceremony, awards given for the best parade floats, and a traditional Night We Light bonfire.

    Northern Lights Viewing

    The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon that happen often in Northern Minnesota (more frequently in Northeastern Minnesota). They appear in different colors and shape rays, glows, and patches that cover the night sky. It is impossible to predict when they will appear. The best chance to see them is in the spring or the fall. However, they have appeared in the middle of winter. The best viewing is usually on a clear, dark night and follows temperature fluctuations. During the summer, the lights are rarely spotted before midnight, but in the winter they can be seen as early as 8 pm.

    BSU Hockey Games

    The 59-year history of Bemidji State University’s men’s hockey distinguishes the BSU Beavers among the greatest collegiate sports programs. With 21 conference titles, 13 small-college national championships, and a trip to the 2009 NCAA Frozen Four, BSU has also seen 82 All-American student-athletes, as well as eight former Beavers go on to play on hockey’s grandest stage—the National Hockey League. The Beavers traditionally play one of the toughest home schedules in the nation, in one of the country’s best facilities, The Sanford Center. You don’t want to miss any of this action, typically held September thru February.

    Sanford Center Entertainment

    Awarded the Prime Site Award for Excellence, the Sandford Center, with attached hotel overlooking Lake Bemidji, offers unmatched flexible space for gatherings of all reasons and sizes. As greater Minnesota’s premier facility, Bemidji’s 185,000 sq. ft. Center offers flexible space to accommodate meetings, conventions, exhibits, sport activities, training, concerts… just about any event or gathering need you have!

    Movie Theaters

    Blackduck Theater - Blackduck. Offer Matinee and evening shows.  Distance: 5 mins. away

    Bemidji Theaters - 5284 Theater Lane NW Bemidji, Contact 218-759-0324 for information and show times. Offer matinee and evening shows.  Distance: 28 mins. away




    If you are lucky, you live in one of those parts of the world where Nature has one last fling before settling down into winter's sleep. In those lucky places, as days shorten and temperatures become crisp, the quiet green palette of summer foliage is transformed into the vivid autumn palette of reds, oranges, golds, and browns before the leaves fall off the trees. On special years, the colors are truly breathtaking.

    How does autumn color happen?

    leaf 1For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that happen to trees and shrubs in the autumn. Although we don't know all the details, we do know enough to explain the basics and help you to enjoy more fully Nature's multicolored autumn farewell. Three factors influence autumn leaf color-leaf pigments, length of night, and weather, but not quite in the way we think. The timing of color change and leaf fall are primarily regulated by the calendar, that is, the increasing length of night. None of the other environmental influences-temperature, rainfall, food supply, and so on-are as unvarying as the steadily increasing length of night during autumn. As days grow shorter, and nights grow longer and cooler, biochemical processes in the leaf begin to paint the landscape with Nature's autumn palette.

    Where do autumn colors come from?

    A color palette needs pigments, and there are three types that are involved in autumn color.


    sumac leaves
    • Chlorophyll, which gives leaves their basic green color. It is necessary for photosynthesis, the chemical reaction that enables plants to use sunlight to manufacture sugars for their food. Trees in the temperate zones store these sugars for their winter dormant period.


    • Carotenoids, which produce yellow, orange, and brown colors in such things as corn, carrots, and daffodils, as well as rutabagas, buttercups, and bananas.


    • Anthocyanins, which give color to such familiar things as cranberries, red apples, concord grapes, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and plums. They are water soluble and appear in the watery liquid of leaf cells.

    Both chlorophyll and carotenoids are present in the chloroplasts of leaf cells throughout the growing season. Most anthocyanins are produced in the autumn, in response to bright light and excess plant sugars within leaf cells.

    During the growing season, chlorophyll is continually being produced and broken down and leaves appear green. As night length increases in the autumn, chlorophyll production slows down and then stops and eventually all the chlorophyll is destroyed. The carotenoids and anthocyanins that are present in the leaf are then unmasked and show their colors.

    Certain colors are characteristic of particular species. Oaks turn red, brown, or russet; hickories, golden bronze; aspen and yellow-poplar, golden yellow; dogwood, purplish red; beech, light tan; and sourwood and black tupelo, crimson. Maples differ species by species-red maple turns brilliant scarlet; sugar maple, orange-red; and black maple, glowing yellow. Striped maple becomes almost colorless. Leaves of some species such as the elms simply shrivel up and fall, exhibiting little color other than drab brown.

    The timing of the color change also varies by species. Sourwood in southern forests can become vividly colorful in late summer while all other species are still vigorously green. Oaks put on their colors long after other species have already shed their leaves. These differences in timing among species seem to be genetically inherited, for a particular species at the same latitude will show the same coloration in the cool temperatures of high mountain elevations at about the same time as it does in warmer lowlands.

    How does weather affect autumn color?

    leaf 4The amount and brilliance of the colors that develop in any particular autumn season are related to weather conditions that occur before and during the time the chlorophyll in the leaves is dwindling. Temperature and moisture are the main influences.

    A succession of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp but not freezing nights seems to bring about the most spectacular color displays. During these days, lots of sugars are produced in the leaf but the cool nights and the gradual closing of veins going into the leaf prevent these sugars from moving out. These conditions-lots of sugar and lots of light-spur production of the brilliant anthocyanin pigments, which tint reds, purples, and crimson. Because carotenoids are always present in leaves, the yellow and gold colors remain fairly constant from year to year.

    The amount of moisture in the soil also affects autumn colors. Like the weather, soil moisture varies greatly from year to year. The countless combinations of these two highly variable factors assure that no two autumns can be exactly alike. A late spring, or a severe summer drought, can delay the onset of fall color by a few weeks. A warm period during fall will also lower the intensity of autumn colors. A warm wet spring, favorable summer weather, and warm sunny fall days with cool nights should produce the most brilliant autumn colors.

    What triggers leaf fall?

    In early autumn, in response to the shortening days and declining intensity of sunlight, leaves begin the processes leading up to their fall. The veins that carry fluids into and out of the leaf gradually close off as a layer of cells forms at the base of each leaf. These clogged veins trap sugars in the leaf and promote production of anthocyanins. Once this separation layer is complete and the connecting tissues are sealed off, the leaf is ready to fall.

    What does all this do for the tree?

    treesWinter is a certainty that all vegetation in the temperate zones must face each year. Perennial plants, including trees, must have some sort of protection to survive freezing temperatures and other harsh wintertime influences. Stems, twigs, and buds are equipped to survive extreme cold so that they can reawaken when spring heralds the start of another growing season. Tender leaf tissues, however, would freeze in winter, so plants must either toughen up and protect their leaves or dispose of them.

    The evergreens-pines, spruces, cedars, firs, and so on-are able to survive winter because they have toughened up. Their needle-like or scale-like foliage is covered with a heavy wax coating and the fluid inside their cells contains substances that resist freezing. Thus the foliage of evergreens can safely withstand all but the severest winter conditions, such as those in the Arctic. Evergreen needles survive for some years but eventually fall because of old age.

    The leaves of broadleaved plants, on the other hand, are tender and vulnerable to damage. These leaves are typically broad and thin and are not protected by any thick coverings. The fluid in cells of these leaves is usually a thin, watery sap that freezes readily. This means that the cells could not survive winter where temperatures fall below freezing. Tissues unable to overwinter must be sealed off and shed to ensure the plant's continued survival. Thus leaf fall precedes each winter in the temperate zones.


    leaf 5 What happens to all those fallen leaves?

    Needles and leaves that fall are not wasted. They decompose and restock the soil with nutrients and make up part of the spongy humus layer of the forest floor that absorbs and holds rainfall. Fallen leaves also become food for numerous soil organisms vital to the forest ecosystem.

    It is quite easy to see the benefit to the tree of its annual leaf fall, but the advantage to the entire forest is more subtle. It could well be that the forest could no more survive without its annual replenishment from leaves than the individual tree could survive without shedding these leaves. The many beautiful interrelationships in the forest community leave us with myriad fascinating puzzles still to solve.

    Where can I see autumn color in the United States?

    treesYou can find autumn color in parks and woodlands, in the cities, countryside, and mountains - anywhere you find deciduous broadleaved trees, the ones that drop their leaves in the autumn. Nature's autumn palette is painted on oaks, maples, beeches, sweetgums, yellow-poplars, dogwoods, hickories, and others. Your own neighborhood may be planted with special trees that were selected for their autumn color.

    New England is rightly famous for the spectacular autumn colors painted on the trees of its mountains and countryside, but the Adirondack, Appalachian, Smoky, and Rocky Mountains are also clad with colorful displays. In the East, we can see the reds, oranges, golds, and bronzes of the mixed deciduous woodlands; in the West, we see the bright yellows of aspen stands and larches contrasting with the dark greens of the evergreen conifers.

    Many of the Forest Service's 100 plus scenic byways were planned with autumn color in mind. In 31 States you can drive on over 3,000 miles of scenic byways, and almost everyone of them offers a beautiful, colorful drive sometime in the autumn.

    When is the best time to see autumn color?

    Unfortunately, autumn color is not very predictable, especially in the long term. Half the fun is trying to outguess Nature! But it generally starts in late September in New England and moves southward, reaching the Smoky Mountains by early November. It also appears about this time in the high-elevation mountains of the West. Remember that cooler high elevations will color up before the valleys. The Forest Service's Fall Color Hotline (1-800-354-4595) can provide you with details as the autumn color display progresses.


    Persons of any race, color, national origin, sex, age, or religion, or with any handicapping condition are welcome to use and enjoy all the facilities, programs, and services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Discrimination in any form is strictly against agency policy and should reported to the 

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