Exploding with color: Leaf peeping season has arrived

Oct. 7—BEMIDJI — Chilly weather has hit the region in full force the last couple of days, but on the bright side, cooler temps also mean fall leaf peeping season has officially arrived.

To help keep leaf peepers up-to-date, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been keeping its popular

Fall Color Finder map

up to date, which includes color-coded approximations of the percentage of leaves that have changed color in an area.

Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota DNR also offers weekly fall color updates through email subscription, which give more detailed information on color-changing activity throughout the state.

Currently, Lake Bemidji State Park is listed at peak color on the map and visitors will immediately spot bright reds, blaze oranges and golden yellows as they drive into the park.

The DNR suggests heading to the Lake Bemidji overlook along the Rocky Point Trail under golden and crimson maple trees. The trail goes through the park's maple and basswood forest, which is a unique forest type to the park, due to a different microclimate than what occurs in the rest of the park.

For those who may want to enjoy the park's trails but have mobility issues, contact the park office about

signing up to use the new track chair.

Here are some tips for a successful leaf peeping excursion:

1. Prepare. When you're at nature's discretion, it's probably best to do your research. Don't be afraid to call the DNR, and regularly check the

Fall Color Finder map.

If you're leaf peeping in another state, check out this handy

Fall Foliage Prediction Map

for the U.S.

2. Monitor the weather. No leaf peeper wants to show up to a soggy spot of land with bare trees. Before you waste the gas, make sure a tornado didn't just blow through.

3. Take advantage of the golden hour. If you're looking to capture Instagram-worthy photos, try leaf peeping an hour before sunset or an hour after sunrise.

4. Pick a base, but don't be afraid to wander. You've done your research on the area, so explore it beyond the main highway. Some of the best fall colors are down side roads.

5. Bring snacks. Who wants to look at leaves while they're starving? Pack a picnic to bring along, and you've got a meal with an exceptionally pretty view.