Some of the best displays of fall foliage occurs on the west shore of Minnesota’s Great Lake – Lake Superior.
Driving on Highway 61, from Duluth to the Canadian Border gives yield to dramatic displays of colors in the fall. Called the “North Shore Drive’ by locals, the trees that lend to this amazing display of autumn colors are the Maple’s, Poplars, Birch and the endless stands of Evergreens.
“Fall colors” refers to the colors that are produced when the leaves change color. Dramatic oranges, fiery reds, dark deep browns, yellows, greens and maroons all lend to the elegant color rendering. Color change is caused by the chemical in the leaves called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is affected by temperature changes.
In the fall, when the temperature drops at night close to freezing, it affects the color of the leaves.
In addition to the trees changing color, the scenery leads to an all around visual effect. The older buildings, the granite shorelines, the dramatic rock cliffs, waterfalls, light houses, businesses, quaint old towns and the colors all combine to make a trip worth taking!
On the east side of the road, you have Lake Superior. If you are lucky enough to be in a part of the road that offers a view of the water, it proves to be an expanse of blue that seems to melt into the horizon.
If you cannot see the lake, chances are that you can see granite cliffs with the richness of the deep red hues in the stone. The local scenery along highway 61 is dotted with houses and businesses and other historical buildings that have been preserved over the past forty years and just add to the ambiance of the road trip.
Years ago, the road ran along the edge of the water, although, the water was usually several hundred feet below the road. A simple guardrail on a hairpin curve was all that protected you from plunging over the cliff. They have since carved pathways through the rock faces and you can now drive through the rocks and there are several tunnels.
There are even several rivers with waterfalls along the way to enjoy. Many must-sees along the way include: Split Rock Lighthouse, Lutsen Resort, the Harbor in Grand Marais and many others, all surrounded by the backdrops of the changing scenery.
Yes. Minnesota’s North Shore Drive in the fall is well worth the effort it takes to drive and I recommend it to all!