This year I saw my first Autumn colors outside of the Summer green on the last day of August. The yellow and reds surprised me. They were high up on the hillside. This was after some cool nights but during a very hot spell (for Ely) that would stretch into Tuesday, September 5th. That night around 4:30 p.m. a storm crawled in and settled over Ely for most of the night dumping substantial rain and lightning on the edge and in the Boundary Waters.
The days are shorter now — no 10 p.m. sunsets and its pretty gray in the mornings before 7 a.m. The rest of the week (I’m writing this Friday Morning) was cool and gray and misty. Not really raining, but 100 percent humidity type days. Monday was definitely shorts weather, and Tuesday, but the rest of the week jeans, flannels and sweatshirts came out. Sweaters began to appear and sell on the retail floor. The times they are a changin.
Maples, Aspen, Tamarack (Larch) and other trees are about to burst into a flame of colors. Fall colors vary from pale yellow to bright fuscia and outright red on the Silver Maples. Northern Minnesota is one of the places where the changes are stark and dramatic as you look across the horizon of Evergreens like Red and White Pine, Jackpine and Spruce trees. They seem to pop more than other places.
When you live here all year and get used to the vast green of the Superior National Forest that surrounds us anything different seems at first to catch you by surprise. What I like is that even when we find ourselves at Peak Color time (here’s an interactive chart to track the colors in Minnesota) the colors around the bend of a river you find yourself paddling or road you are driving down are more and more vibrant with each new tree.
Perhaps that’s why canoers, hikers and sightseers and even just shoppers love to visit Ely in the Autumn. The Fall colors are overwhelmingly beautiful, but they aren’t overwhelming. By that, I mean that they are not overwhelming — as in everywhere, the norm, ubiquitous.
They explode out of the other trees in the forest with random abandon. They allow your eyes to get a break and reflect on their impact. This in turn paints the surrounding green forest with beauty in their own right.
Ely hosts its Harvest Moon Festival the first full weekend after Labor Day each year. It is a Friday through Sunday celebration of artist and crafters and food trucks that kicks off our Fall Colors season and the close of Summer.
Besides paddling on Boundary Waters lakes and rivers, driving is a great way to color watch. Hiking trails and scenic lookouts are available along the Echo Trail and Fernberg Road. Like other places around the country, Autumn brings opportunities for patience while driving country roads.
At Piragis Northwoods Company we offer Guided Group Canoe Trips themed Fall Colors and Wilderness Wildlife. They are a fantastic way to experience the wilderness with a group and a guide. Making new friends and exploring new territory while admiring the Fall colors is a popular Ely activity. You can still sign up for this year’s trip as we had enough interest to run more than one this year.
Come and visit us in Ely and send us your Fall colors pictures. The above Print by Lucy Stouffer is available for purchase in our online Catalog. You can also tag us on Instagram and Facebook #piragis, #piragisoutfitting and #boundarywaterscatalog.