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5 Reasons to Experience Fall in Detroit Lakes, MN

Following Labor Day, the crisp fall air sneaks in to cool things off in Minnesota. Though we rarely want to say goodbye to summer, the fall in Detroit Lakes has its perks: gorgeous colors perfect for road trips and mountain bike rides, leisurely vacationing with fewer crowds, muskie fishing and end-of-season deals. Not to mention fun-filled events. Now’s the perfect time to Visit Detroit Lakes before (gasp) the snow flies.


View Detroit Lakes - Find Your Fall Place Video.


 #1: Fall Color Tours

Oranges and reds. Pale greens and bright yellows. Deep green conifer spires. Autumn in lakes country is the opportune time to take leisurely drives and hikes to see the spectacular changing Minnesota foliage colors! 

Recommended routes include:
  • Southern Tour - Maplewood State Park: rich in deciduous trees and offers great early-season colors.
  • Northern Tour - Itasca State Park:  featuring rich forest, pines, deciduous trees and excellent mid-season colors
  • Fall on the Prairie - Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge: also abundant pine and deciduous forests set among several blue rivers, ponds and marshes that provide awesome mid-season colors

Peak fall colors in the Detroit Lakes typically occur at the end of September/first week of October.


You can download our Fall Colors tour map and hit the road.



#2: Mountain Biking & Hiking

Detroit Lakes: A Mountain Biker's Dream

Mountain bikers come from all over to explore everything from scenic trails to heart-thumping steep slopes and switchbacks. The Detroit Lakes area has miles of trails to choose from at two-plus area venues: Maplelag Resort and Mountain View County Park.


Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, four miles east of Detroit Lakes, offers professionally-designed mountain bike trails to immerse yourself in fall color scenery. Enjoy miles of adventure on the cross country singletrack trails or, for the adventure seeker and more skilled rider, try the lift-accessed downhill gravity trails that drop down the side of the mountain around berms, over rollers, jumps and drops featuring large custom wooden ride-over features.


#3 Fall Muskie Fishing at its Finest

With cooler temperatures and less humidity, fall is perfect to hit any of the 400+ lakes in the Detroit Lakes area to cast a fishing line. Cooler temps mean cooler water and more hungry fish after your hook. 


If you’re looking for a truly unique fishing experience, why not go for the ultimate in Minnesota fishing – muskie!


Successful fishermen report catching muskies longer than 50-inches on area lakes including Big Detroit, Pelican (and Fish), Sallie, Many Point and Beers Lake. Lake Melissa also has a small population, but does not get the pressure the other lakes do at this point. 


The muskie waters here tend to be very clear, and the fish can even be sight fished at times. If you see them, they can see you, so back off before casting to entice them to bite. If the wind blows and you have good cloud cover, you may have success with trolling or casting. 


If you’re after trophy muskie, contact Brad Laabs Guide Service. Brad is a full-service fishing guide and supplies all bait, tackle, equipment. Brad’s a veteran guide and tournament angler!


#4 Autumn Featured Events & Festivals

Blues, Beer & BBQ - Sept 21 

Enjoy an evening of Blues music, cold beer, and delicious BBQ while rocking to a steady blues beat on the main stage under a solstice sunset. Savor the flavors of BBQ ribs, brisket and pulled pork plus all the fixin’s washed down with a cold beverage.


Your attendance will also go to a great cause: 50 percent of net profits are donated to the Kiwanis Club of Detroit Lakes Technical Scholarship Fund, which assists students interested in programs offered through M-State. Additional proceeds help support and benefit various youth-focused programs in the Lakes Area like the Boys and Girls Club, Dollars for Scholars and Lakes Crisis and Resource Center.


View the lineup and more information about this event.

Tamarac Refuge Fall Festival - Sept 29

The whole family will enjoy lots of activities, including fall hiking, family nature challenge, children's craft activities, trolley rides, photography display, Refuge bus tour at noon, wildlife puppet shows at 1 pm & 3 pm; live birds & a presentation at 2 pm!


Learn more about this great outdoor fall event.


Be sure to check our Events Calendar for more festivities happening in Detroit Lakes.


#5 Great Deals on Lodging, Golf and More!

As the busy summer season unwinds, you’ll find great discounts on lodging, golf and more. 


Summer may be over, but resort season isn’t. Many of our resorts stay open year-round for hunters, fishermen and outdoor adventurers who don't let cool temps slow them down. A Detroit Lakes, Minnesota resort with a cozy fireplace is the perfect place to enjoy this special, fleeting season. Book now for special off-season prices!


You’ll also find a wide variety of quality motels and hotels to meet your needs and budget. From award winning mid-sized chain hotels, to smaller independent properties, to a full-service hotel with conference facilities, Detroit Lakes currently has more than 400 rooms to accommodate you.


Nights may be chilly, but fall days are perfect for hitting the greens. Get in those last swings of the season at seven Minnesota golf courses in and around Detroit Lakes. Reasonable rates and easy booking will get you on the courses faster and more often. Plan to make the rounds on several of the courses and take time to enjoy autumn’s ever-changing hues and skies filled with honking geese flying south.