Summer and autumn are usually the most colorful seasons in North Dakota.
Purple blazing star and plains sunflowers give way to bright reds and golds in the trees. What little of the state that is forest is ablaze in color.
Autumn is my favorite season. I lament the end of summer and the things I didn't get around to doing, but the cool days and rich colors of the transition from summer to winter is a treat.
My family traveled a lot in autumn when I was a kid, usually for bird hunting. From Goodrich to Gackle, Edgeley to Ellendale, we hit the road in fall for pheasants, grouse, geese and ducks. Deer hunting took my dad and me to our remote hunting ground south of Medora, though the trees were usually barren by then, but golds and browns still remained on the land, sometimes silvery with a layer of frost or ice.
Though beautiful, autumn is fleeting. The leaves turning color are dependent on several factors, especially the first hard freeze. Last year, I was able to see the Pembina Gorge in early October along with the Sheyenne River Valley and many locations in Grant County around the same time.
This year, I have about two or three autumn color spots on my list: Lake Metigoshe, Lake Trenton and the Little Missouri River.
The latter should be easy to see; it's just 15 minutes away.
The other two I'll have to time just right.
Sources tell me Lake Metigoshe will be at the peak of autumn color around the weekend of Sept. 16. Lake Trenton, just an hour away from me in Watford City, may be around that time as well, but I can afford one or two trips up there if I have to come back for the final burst of orange and red.
I can't redo a trip to the Turtle Mountains; that's a four-hour trip that's gotta be planned just right.
I already have some great shots posed in my head. Looking out over still blue waters under an orange canopy of leaves. Staring up from a forest floor at the kaleidoscope of colors above. Early morning mist rolling off mirror-like waters under a pink sunrise.
We'll see if those can happen.
Autumn's the best.