Aerial view of fall colors at Lutsen Mountains

Fall Colors

Millions of colorful reasons to visit this fall

Fall in Cook County is a time of tumultuous beauty. The air turns crisp and clear. Moose get an amorous gleam in their eyes. Changing leaves paint the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness/BWCAW with a palette of goldenrod, pumpkin orange, and firetruck red. In late fall, a different kind of show begins; the infamous gales of November. This is a chance to get cozy and watch Lake Superior unleash her wild side.

There is no shortage of activities to do in fall. Here are just a few of our favorite ways to experience fall in Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail, and Grand Portage. How many have you done?

North Shore Bucket ListCook County, MN
Embrace your inner leaf-peeper

Marvel at all of the color that nature offers. From the ruby reds to the pumpkin patch oranges the whole spectrum comes to life. Download the fall color report from the Superior National Forest for tips to see the best color.

Stargaze and look for northern lights

Set your eyes to the skies in the evenings. You will see more stars than ever before and if you are lucky, a glimpse of nature’s light show – aurora borealis.

Go on a Gunflint Trail “moosefari”

For your best chance of seeing one of these massive, elusive creatures, drive the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway early in the morning or around dusk. Even if you don’t spy a moose, you’ll see spectacular scenery.

Paddle the Boundry Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in a new season

Fall days are often sunny, mild and bug-free, with cool, clear nights perfect for hot chocolate around the campfire.

See fall colors from above

Learn about nature and get dramatic views enhanced by adrenaline on the Towering Pines Canopy Tour at Gunflint Lodge. Or, for a more relaxed experience, ride the Summit Express Gondola at Lutsen Mountains, passing over the Poplar River Valley near Lake Superior.

Hike the Superior Hiking Trail

Immerse yourself amongst the fall colors by traveling through the Superior National Forest on foot. Catch spectacular views from numerous peaks along the Sawtooth Mountain Range of Lake Superior and the Superior National Forest in full fall splendor. Try the Oberg Mountain segment of the Superior Hiking Trail. Or head out early to climb Eagle Mountain, the highest peak in Minnesota.

Eat like a local

From down-home diners to northern fusion cuisine to burgers featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” Cook County has a full range of dining to please every palate.

Golf at Superior National

Get in a few more rounds this season by hitting the links at Superior National Golf Course.

Try a new s’mores recipe over the campfire

Pick up some locally made fudge (try maple bacon) and elevate your palate.

Find your true colors and get inspired

Shop our local galleries and find artisan-crafted gems. Feeling inspired? Take a class at North House Folk School or the Grand Marais Art Colony.

Encounter hundreds of species of birds

Cook County is a bird watchers paradise. Our boreal forest is at the heart of the migratory path for numerous bird species. From the peak of a mountain, witness a hawk migration or stay up late and listen for the hoot of an owl.

Take a fall colors drive on our scenic backroads

Download a printable map with highlights and hiking trails: Fall Colors Map (PDF)

See a Lake Superior gale

In the fall, low-pressure systems from the Arctic swing down over Lake Superior and bump into warmer systems fed by the jet stream. These collisions can spawn ferocious gales. If you get a thrill from waves and wind, Cook County has plenty of snug harbors for storm-watching.