While fall is the precursor to the cold, ice, and snow of a Northland winter, it brings a lot of beauty with it. The change in temperatures brings a change of colors in the trees around the region. While some think you have to hike deep into the forest to enjoy the beauty autumn has to offer, you can actually enjoy quite a bit right from your car.

The Northland is home to a number of great roads lined with trees that turn vibrant colors and offer great scenery - all without having to exert a ton of effort to see them!

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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Whether you don't want to worry about dragging your kids along on a deepwoods adventure, or you just want to enjoy fall's beauty without getting a big workout, here is a list of great places to go and see the beauty of fall from the comfort of your vehicle.

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Google Maps
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Skyline Parkway - Duluth, Minnesota

Skyline Parkway is a stunning stretch of road 25 miles long stretching from Spirit Mountain to Seven Bridges Road. Fall is a perfect time to take this windy road to get a birds-eye view of Duluth and Lake Superior.

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Seven Bridges Road - Duluth, Minnesota

Seven Bridges Road is a couple-mile stretch of Skyline Drive located on the east end of Duluth. Surrounded by woods the colors are absolutely brilliant, and you do (as the name suggests) drive over a lot of bridges. To access by car from Superior Street turn North just past the Lester River. While it is part of the overall Skyline Parkway route above, it is a unique, short drive you can enjoy on its own.

Bing Maps
Bing Maps
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Minnesota 61 - Lake Superior North Shore

This one probably seems pretty obvious. The rugged North Shore, brightly colored trees, Lake Superior - you get the idea. Not all parts of this route are created equally though, when it comes to fall colors spotting. The entire drive is worthwhile any season, but if you are looking for the best overall color locations, the span of the highway near Lutsen is the prime spot. This area has a heavier concentration of maple trees and oak, offering orange and red, adding to the yellow of the birch, poplar, ash, and aspen trees that usually offer yellows.

Feel free to head off on a side road off the highway to get into the forested areas. One such example of a side road to take is next on this list.

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Heartbreak Ridge - Tofte, Minnesota

Located on the beautiful North Shore of Northern Minnesota. Located along Highway 61 Heartbreak Ridge is a relaxing drive through the woods for a few miles as you loop back around to the town of Tofte.

Heartbreak Ridge Loop Directions:

Head north on Temperance Road from Highway 61 between Schroeder and Tofte • Drive 5.1 miles and turn right onto 6 Hundred Road • Follow 6 Hundred Road for 6.2 miles and turn right onto Sawbill Trail • Follow Sawbill Trail for 4.2 miles until reaching Hwy 61 in Tofte 15.6 miles total

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Avenue of Pines Tour - Grand Rapids, Minnesota

Surrounded by lakes and forests with miles and miles of trails for hiking and off-road vehicles a drive around this charming Iron range town makes for a great day trip. Grand Rapids' motto is "Lakes, Trails, and Fresh Air!" They also offer a Fall Color Tour map that starts in Grand Rapids and goes for many many miles in all directions.

  • 300 US-2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744, USA
  • 45830 US-2, Deer River, MN 56636, USA
  • 44673 MN-46, Deer River, MN 56636, USA
  • 44213 MN-286, Bigfork, MN 56628, USA
  • 39335 MN-286, Marcell, MN 56657, USA
  • 300 US-2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744, USA

Mines and Pines Tour - Hibbing, Minnesota

Take the Mines and Pines Tour starting in Hibbing and wind your way to Chisholm, Buhl, Mountain Iron, and Virginia, north to Cook, east to McCarthy Beach State Park, and back down to Hibbing on a 102-mile  loop. Observe the beautiful forests and look out for wildlife too plus mines dotted along the way.

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Google Maps
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Highway 13 - Lake Superior South Shore

Exploring the scenic route along the greatest of the Great Lakes, traveling from just south of Superior, WI to Ashland, WI along Highway 13. From tree-dotted farmland on the western part of this route to the thick forests as you head up the Bayfield Peninsula, it is a great way to experience the lake and a variety of fall colors.

Additionally, Highway 13 travels from Ashland down the middle of the state, all the way to Wisconsin Dells. Just south of Ashland, you'll also find the must-see Copper Falls which is part of the Wisconsin State Park system. If you want to get out and stretch your legs, you'll see deep gorges and beautiful waterfalls.

The Fruit Loop - Bayfield, Wisconsin

If you're looking for a shorter, more focused drive, check out the "Fruit Loop" just outside of Bayfield. The drive offers some backroads driving through the beautiful Bayfield Peninsula, with possible stops at orchards, berry farms, and wineries.

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Google Maps
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Hayward, Wisconsin

The Hayward Lakes area is full of a variety of types of trees that all change colors at different times in the fall. Some of the varieties are red maple, sugar maple, aspens, and oak trees too. The last tree to change color is the tamarack, when most trees have lost their leaves, the tamaracks become yellow. If you are up for an additional road trip there are six different color tours available in Sawyer County.

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Best Minnesota State Parks To Avoid Big Crowds

While iconic state parks like Itasca, Gooseberry, and Fort Snelling draw massive numbers of visitors each year, there are a lot of awesome state parks and recreation areas around Minnesota that offer fantastic outdoor or camping experiences without the high number of visitors. Give these a look!

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