Viewing Fall Colors on the Namekagon River

Photo: Karri Burke

If you live or visit Wisconsin in the fall, then you know that it is a MUST to take some time to stop and admire the vibrant fall colors that surround you. Wisconsin boasts some of the most beautiful views of fall foliage in the entire nation, so where do you begin?

If you’re a fan of paddling – the Namekagon River offers breathtaking views of autumn that can be seen straight from your kayak or canoe. Being mostly undeveloped, the majority of the Namekagon River remains in its most natural state possible – providing miles of unsurpassed beauty. Paddlers can launch into the river at the Namekagon Dam Landing and travel as far south as the Riverside Landing.

Not a huge fan of being on the water? The biggest tip we have to offer is to do something you love while viewing the fall foliage. Do you enjoy fishing? Cast a line along the Namekagon and admire the bright colors from the riverbank as you wait for a bite. Is driving more your style? Drive along the winding roads that run along the river for captivating views – just be sure to slow down now and then to really take in the incredible scenery.

If you’re doing something you enjoy, it will make your experience that much more memorable. The good thing about the Namekagon River? There is a little something for everyone. 

Reconnect with nature as you explore the park. The cooler months leading up to winter are usually less busy with travelers; however, the wildlife you encounter can still be robust. Bring your binoculars and birding books as you explore the area! Be on the lookout for migrating birds such as warblers, nighthawks, broad-winged hawks, and spotted sandpipers as they make their way south.

In addition, many of the local animals are preparing for winter. Abundant species include bald eagle, deer, multiple species of turtle, black bear, chipmunk, raccoon, beaver, muskrat, and otters. You never know what incredible wildlife you’ll come across as you take in the vibrant colors of fall. 

When will the leaves begin to change? Stay up to date with the ever-changing foliage at the Fall Color Report from Travel Wisconsin. Generally, the colors will begin to start changing mid-September throughout October. However, this all depends on the weather leading up to the change, and every year seems to be a little different.

Hiking, biking, paddling, fishing – there’s not much that you can’t do as you spend the day at the park. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, order your Namekagon River brochure to help begin trip planning. This brochure includes all three Namekagon River maps along with the paddling guide which describes each stretch of the river so you can choose the best possible area for your trip.

If you have any questions, be sure to stop by the Washburn County Visitor Center in Spooner, Cable Area Chamber of Commerce, or the Hayward Lakes Visitor Center for more information.* The park rangers are a great resource to provide you with details and secrets that will make your trip one that you will never forget. 

*The Namekagon River Visitor Center is currently closed down due to COVID-19.