Autumn's colors are arriving in full force in North Dakota; easy enough to miss if you don't plan or don't travel to see these trees.
Less than 2 percent of North Dakota is forest, but pockets exist. River valleys are typically your best bet, but also is heading north. North Dakota's Turtle Mountains are a north woods paradise, like a slice of central Minnesota dropped on the Can-Am line.
Lake Metigoshe State Park is worth a weekend. Hiking forested trails along ponds and lakes. Watching frost smoke rise and roll off Lake Metigoshe. Driving Lake Loop Road and its forested curves.
As for the river valleys, numerous exist to see corridors of fall color. The Sheyenne, James, Des Lacs, Souris, Little Missouri and Pembina rivers are all prime this time of year, and oh yeah, the Missouri River. The 80 miles of this waterway not dammed between Riverdale and Lincoln, N.D., are pristine to see almost any time of year.
The best of all may be the Pembina Gorge, however, tucked away near Walhalla in the state's northeast corner. Driving State Highway 55 into the gorge's bottom is a nice tour, or walking the Three Sisters Hill area.
My tip for fall color tours in North Dakota: Hit the road. Go someplace new you've never been. Before Sunday afternoon, I'd never set foot in the Des Lacs River Valley before I explored the Danish windmill in Kenmare and drove Highway 52 through the winding river valley.
This weekend, I'll be treating myself and a buddy to the Killdeer Mountains, hoping the rain holds off and the fall colors shine.
I would venture a guess that most of the state's autumnal wonder will be gone by October, so get out there now. Fall is fleeting.