Delight in the Bright 

Enjoying Fall Colors Along the Namekagon River

It truly is a sight to see. The vivid colors of the changing seasons in northern Wisconsin are something people come from all over the states to see. As early as Labor Day Weekend, colors like yellow, red and orange start appearing on trees all over the region. As summer fades and cooler temperatures roll in, those colors become brighter and more vibrant. Pictures often don’t do it justice (although we love to see them!) and it is an experience done better in person. What better time than now? We’ve got the scoop on when and how to best experience fall colors along the Namekagon River.

The Science 

What causes the magnificent splendor of red, orange and yellow hues? 

There are three types of pigment found in leaves: chlorophyll (green), carotenoid (yellow, orange and brown) and anthocyanin (red). From spring to fall, chlorophyll and carotenoid are found together in leaf cells. Chlorophyll covers carotenoid and as the seasons change in certain regions (like good ol’ Northwest Wisconsin) the drop in temperature causes leaves to stop producing chlorophyll—revealing vibrant yellows, oranges and browns across the lush landscape in the area. With the temperature dropping so rapidly in our area, the time window for this vibrancy is short. But what about red? Not all leaves can produce anthocyanin (red pigment). But those leaves that can need just the right conditions like cool, but not freezing, nights. As the temperature drops, sugar sap is unable to flow to the branches and trunks of the tree. Anthocyanin acts as a protective shield allowing the plants to recover nutrients in the leaves before falling off. Now when you see trees with red and purple leaves, you’ll know just how hard that anthocyanin is working to produce such vivid colors!

The When and Where

The Fall Color Report from Travel Wisconsin is the best way to track the changing colors all across the state. It gives you peak color times so you can plan your trip accordingly. According to the Fall Color Report, the peak season for the area surrounding the Namekagon River is the fourth week of September. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a good experience before or after – the entire season is worth experiencing! 

The Wonder

There are so many ways to explore the colors of fall along the Namekagon River, including a late-season canoe or kayak ride. The brisk days make paddling along the river peaceful and aesthetically pleasing to the eyes as the bright orange, yellows and reds pop along the water. As the season changes, make sure to call ahead to the river outfitters listed here to make sure they are open. 

Hiking is a year-round adventure along the Namekagon River, and the perfect way to get up close and personal with those fall colors. Grab your camera, lace up those boots and check out some hiking trails. The Namekagon River trails are easily accessible for all walks of life – not too strenuous and great for a casual day hike. 

The fall colors along the Namekagon River may be short-lived – but they are worth the wait! The area has so much to offer during the season including festivals, live music and events that taking advantage of the moment won’t be difficult. Grab a camera, order your Namekagon River Packet, wear your best flannel and delight in the bright.