Fall Foliage Guide
Autumn foliage in Minnesota provide a colorful display, artfully painting the diversity of species that thrive in the northern climate. However, in Koochiching County, it’s not just the variety of tree species, but also the diverse ways to enjoy the colors of this transitional season. Plan to park your car and explore via ATV, bicycle, motorcycle, boat, canoe, kayak, paddle board, horseback or trail.
Here are some great places to begin your journey into the season’s abundant color:
Voyageurs National Park Rainy Lake Visitor Center offers miles of hiking trails into diverse woodlands, with occasional vistas from which you can view Rainy Lake. A well-maintained paved bicycle trail creates another unique opportunity to take in the colors of the park. Reserve a place on the Voyageur, VNP’s tour boat, providing colorful tours through the end of September.
Drive 40 miles from International Falls along the shores of the Rainy River to Franz-Jevne State park. Well-maintained, the park offers lovely, rustic camp sites and hiking trails, as well as boat access to Rainy River. Launch your canoe or kayak here for a quiet and colorful afternoon of paddling the international water of Rainy River.
Minnesota’s largest state forest, Pine Island is an off-the-beaten-path destination busting with fall color. With multiple public access points within 30-40 miles of International Falls, the area offers nearly 880,000 square miles of opportunity to view enough fall foliage to keep you coming back for generations.
With color change taking place from North to South, Minnesota is a great state for chasing the transition. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provides an annual Fall Color Finder map as well as specific location updates. Motorcyclists can download this map to enjoy the sights.
Where is your favorite place to view the colorful autumn leaves? Tell us in the comments below.
Paddling the Route of the Voyageurs
In our modern lives, adventure is something we seek and schedule. For most of us, adventure is a choice. However, for the Voyageurs in in the mid 1700’s through the mid 1800’s, adventure was a way of life. The French Canadian paddlers were legendary for their enduring power and gritty toughness as they moved furs and other goods via the natural waterways of the northwest territories – often for up to 16 hours a day.
Rainy Lake and Rainy River were common stops along the Voyageurs highway, which linked the great lakes to the interior of the country. Today, these same canoe routes exist virtually unchanged since the days of the Voyageurs, offering visitors to Rainy Lake and Rainy River the chance to adventure through history.
Before grabbing your paddle, take time to research and plan your trip. A good place to begin is the Voyageurs National Park Rainy Lake Visitor Center, where you’ll find historical information, maps, regulations and advice for following the path of the intrepid voyageur. What’s more, the center offers the opportunity to paddle back in history aboard a 26-foot North Canoe, where groups can explore the life of the voyageur, complete with paddle salutes and rowing songs.
If you have your own canoe or kayak, remember to stop at one of the park’s visitor centers for guidelines and safety recommendations before launching. Be sure to consider is the weather conditions as well, since Rainy Lake’s many islands and open water can lead to quickly-developing storms. If you plan on exploring the Canadian side of Rainy, you’ll need the required identification and other documentation.
Hire it Out
If you’re not familiar with the area, or you don’t have a boat and other equipment, you can work with a local outfitter, who will provide everything you need, from canoe or kayak, to paddles, life jackets, and possibly even shore lunch! Many will even paddle along with you, pointing out landmarks, significant islands and outlets.
The Voyageurs left behind very little, other than tales of strength and endurance that have been handed down through generations. If you follow in their paddle strokes, be sure that you also bring home only stories and memories, which, after all, is true to the path of the voyageur.
Plan your Trip
We look forward to your upcoming visit to the Rainy Lake area! We are available to help with lodging and other accommodations. Reach out and Plan your Trip!
Rainy River access in International Falls, Pelland Junction, and Birchdale are all open.
Rainy River provides some of the earliest and best open water fishing in the upper midwest as walleye head upstream from Lake of the Woods. Walleye season on our border weaters remains open until April 14, and you might also pull in one of the huge sturgeon lurking in the river. The swifter waters below the dam at International Falls are almost always good for a few walleye and smallmouth bass. Kuttes Landing at Pelland Junction is just upstream from the confluence of the Little Fork River, which is another great hot spot. Nelson Park at Birchdale is just below the Long Sault Rapids where you can find concentrations of walleye and sturgeon.
Related: What Fishing On Rainy River is like.