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In the right place at the right time ... for fall colors

It happens at about this time every year. The cause: Chlorophyll production in tree leaves slows down and stops and the leaves lose their green color. The effect: Minnesotans flock outside to behold the magnificent red, gold and orange color tran...

Minnesota DNR photo Fall colors like these at Maplewood State Park are on their way.
Minnesota DNR photo Fall colors like these at Maplewood State Park are on their way.

It happens at about this time every year. The cause: Chlorophyll production in tree leaves slows down and stops and the leaves lose their green color. The effect: Minnesotans flock outside to behold the magnificent red, gold and orange color transformation.

To make the most of your viewing pleasure, Minnesota DNR is encouraging fans of the outdoors to make use of the Fall Color Finder, a trip-planning tool on the Department of Natural Resources webpage ( www.mndnr.gov/fallcolor ) that shows the progression of fall color across Minnesota, according to a MN DNR press release.

Each Thursday, beginning on Sept. 8, staff from Minnesota state parks and trails will update the trip-planning tool to help people find the finest color displays as well as fall color programs and special events. The website includes a slideshow and photo uploader so people can share their favorite images from the northernmost tip of Minnesota to the southernmost plains.

"The DNR's forest health specialists say we've had enough rain around the state this summer to keep things green and healthy, which is the first building block for great fall color," said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails. "To increase the chances of having a flashy fall, we need warm, sunny days and cool nights to bring out those vivid colors."

As a general rule, colors peak between mid-September and early October in the northern third of Minnesota, between late September and early October in the central third, and between late September and mid-October in the southern third (which includes the Twin Cities). Peak fall color typically lasts about two weeks, but that can vary widely, depending on location, elevation and weather. Trees at higher elevations are the earliest to show color change.

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For mobile device users, the DNR offers fall colors "to go" on a mobile Fall Color Finder that is integrated with Google maps. To access the fall color information in a format optimized for smart phones and tablets, go to www.mndnr.gov/fallcolor and select the "mobile page" button.

Vehicle permits of $5 per day are required to enter a Minnesota state park and recreation area. At the end of a visit, visitors can apply the $5 entrance fee toward the $25 year-round permit and have unlimited access to Minnesota's 75 state parks and recreation areas. No vehicle permits are needed at state forests.

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