One of the most remarkable things about Minnesota is the ever-changing seasons and the vast array of activities each season brings. The summer months bring relaxing days on the lake while winter lakes freeze over for ice fishing or skating. But perhaps the best time to visit Minnesota is during the shortest season of the year: fall. There is something magical about witnessing forest canopies shift from shades of green to crimson, yellow, and orange. There are many ways to enjoy fall activities in Minnesota, from leaf peeping to watching wildlife. And there is no better place to experience the splendor of the season than at Big Sandy Lodge & Resort. We are located in beautiful McGregor, Minnesota, just two hours north of the Twin Cities. Make the trip up North and explore Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge during your Minnesota fall getaway.  

Rice Lake Auto Tour

The Rice Lake self-guided auto tour is a great way to see fall foliage and local wildlife simultaneously. Explore the 14-mile wildlife drive loop in mid to late September for peak fall foliage. The leaves of aspens, maples, paper birch, and red oaks transform into vibrant shades of red and yellow. This auto tour includes ten stops where you can learn how humans have used this area throughout history. Keep an eye out for waterfowl, deer, grouse, bear, and other wildlife as you stop at each numbered post. Use this map of Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge to navigate all of the auto tour stops. 

Rice Lake Hiking Trails

Hiking the trails at Rice Lake Wildlife Refuge is a great way to experience the season. The cooler temperatures, fall foliage, and spotting wildlife make for a fantastic day on the trails. And if you are visiting Minnesota in October, then you will have the opportunity to see the migration of thousands of ring-necked ducks. But, this 18,000-acre refuge is home to a variety of waterfowl and wildlife you can look for, including eagles, loons, ducks, warblers, gray wolves, black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, beaver, porcupine, and moose. All of the hiking trails pass through upland and lowland hardwood forests, small grasslands, and marsh. Here are the trails you can hike at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge:

Enjoy Fall at a Northern Minnesota Resortphoto inside big sandy lodge cabin

After exploring Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, return to your cabin at Big Sandy Lodge. The fall activities in Minnesota continue at the resort. You can walk our on-site trails for even more leaf-peeping opportunities. The fall colors map for Minnesota can be found here so that you can track peak colors throughout the state. Our cozy cabins are the perfect place for fall activities: carve a pumpkin or sip apple cider in front of the fireplace. However, you want to experience the season, choose Big Sandy for your Northern Minnesota vacation.