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Minnesota & Wisconsin Fall Leaf-Peeping Kayak Trips


While many kayakers think of summer as the ideal paddling season with its long days and warmer weather, fall can be just as good. Especially if your goal is to glimpse the beautiful fall foliage. Leaf-peeping from your kayak or canoe is the perfect way to enjoy the brilliant autumn colors. So, if you’re in no rush to store your kayak and want to experience the vivid colors of fall’s foliage from the water, check out a few of our favorite places in Minnesota and Wisconsin for fall color paddling.

Kayak Through Minnesota’s & Wisconsin’s Fall Colors

Minnesota and Wisconsin are famous for their fiery fall foliage, bringing in tourists from all over. Leaf-peeping traffic can get heavy, especially at peak. But most recreational kayakers have already begun storing their kayaks for winter, leaving waterways free and clear for an even more peaceful experience for taking in the wonder of fall. Instead of getting in line for a drive or an overcrowded hike, experience fall colors from a different angle and watch it dance off the reflective water. To make sure you get the best color, both Minnesota and Wisconsin offer online peak color tracking. Check the links and plan your leaf-peeping kayaking trip.

Peninsula State Park – Fish Creek, WI

Peninsula State Park is the third-largest state park in Wisconsin. It is located in Door County and offers over eight miles of shoreline to kayak. In addition to the changing colors that line the shore every fall, kayakers can see other popular attractions like the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Horseshoe Island and Chambers Island, and lots of wildlife.

Kickapoo River – La Farge, WI

Kickapoo River is known as the crookedest river in the world. It begins just north of Ontario in Vernon County, Wisconsin and winds to meet the Wisconsin River at Wauzeka in Crawford County, Wisconsin. Near the start by Ontario, the river carved out breathtaking sandstone cliffs that are now covered with foliage. As kayakers make their way down the river they can set their eyes on more than 300 different plant species, over a 100 bird species and many other mammals.

Interstate State Park – Taylors Falls, MN

The St. Croix River Valley forms much of the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin and is ablaze in red, orange, and yellow leaves in the fall. Interstate State Park at Taylors Falls is small, but geologically distinctive park having been carved out by massive glaciers retreating from the area about 10,000 years ago. Rushing currents and whirlpools carved deep, circular “glacial potholes” from the sandstone down into the basalt leaving behind stunning cliffs, that are especially awe-inspiring at peak of fall color.

In addition to the fall colors, kayakers and canoers will likely spot eagles, herons and dozens of other bird species, along with the chance to see mink, beaver, whitetail deer, fox and maybe even black bear.

Afton State park, Afton, MN

Afton State Park is within an hour of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, making it the perfect destination for a day kayaking trip. The park caters to those seeking a remote, rustic experience close to the metro. It is located on the southern section of the St. Croix River and provides an excellent opportunity for catching some of the river’s largest fish species, river sturgeon and flathead catfish. Paddling the densely wooded banks of the river near Afton is by far one of the most peaceful and immersive ways to experience the fall colors.

Storing Your Kayak

Be sure to head out and enjoy nature’s fall color show from the water before storing your kayak for the season. Fall can be a truly beautiful time to kayak or canoe.  But when it is time to put your beloved kayak away, remember we offer a selection of all-weather outdoor and indoor storage solutions for kayaks, canoes, and SUPs. Shop our quality kayak, canoe, and paddle board storage racks online by phone at 1-715-543-2006 or send us an online message.