Summer is fading away, but at least we have autumn's brilliant blazes ahead. The trick is knowing where to find them at their peak. Fortunately, there's help for that.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a web page devoted to fall color, and it offers enough detail to satisfy even the most fervent color hunters — and who isn't, when there are oaks and maples out there, somewhere, bursting with color? Find it at dnr.state.mn.us/fall_colors.
The DNR fall color page gets right to business, opening up with a map of the state that is color-coded according to the autumn show.
When I last checked, the state was awash in green (fall colors at 0-10 percent), with a dab of khaki dipping down from the Lake of the Woods (10-25 percent).
The map is studded with dots. These represent state parks. I clicked on one in the khaki zone, and up popped information on the leaf situation at Zippel Bay State Park, in Williams. It read: "Due to lack of rain during much of August, a lot of our trees and underbrush have started changing color. We have some beautiful reds showing up." Sumac and hardwoods by a campground are showing off. Birch and aspen are turning yellow, too.
Sounds good: I'm heading north now. Or should I wait?
At Banning State Park in Sandstone, only a few trees have turned red along the river — but the "trail along the Kettle River Rapids and old quarry buildings makes for a beautiful, easy hike that is 1.7 miles," the website notes.
Sign me up. Prime time there should be in late September or early October, according to a DNR map that appears after a click of the "typical peak color" link on the fall color homepage.
The robust and inspiring site also displays photos by fellow leaf peepers, and a way to upload your own.
Check fall color in Wisconsin at travelwisconsin.com/fall-color-report.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.