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Where Beauty & Nature Intersect

Seasons of Natural Beauty

Seasons of Natural Beauty

Whether you prefer to bask in the sun on a lake shore or slice through new fallen snow,
the dramatic progression of the seasons bring a special sense of beauty and wonder to
our lakes, rivers, forests, and fields.
Phenology, the study of seasonal changes in nature, is a past time for many who live
here. Whether we keep a journal or not, we are aware of more than the weather. We
look for seasonal changes in plant and animal life and view the changes as one of our
greatest assets.

Where there are maple trees, many tap trees and make maple syrup, mostly for their
own use. How do you know when the sap is running? When the temperature is above
freezing (in the 40s or 50s) during the day but still freezing at night. Every year is
Pussy willows begin to bud early with a steady march of blooming plant life into May.
The ephemerals, like hepaticas and wood anemones, are a precursor to larger flowers,
like trilliums, easily seen along the road into Itasca State Park, and the patch of marsh
marigolds, also known as cowslips, about two miles east of Park Rapids on the north
side of Highway 34.

By June, the trees are alive with bird song, the forest floor is carpeted with giant ferns
and wildflowers bloom in the countryside along fields and ditches, our beautiful biking
and hiking trails and lakes. It is always a thrill to see our state flower, the showy lady’s-
slipper. Another site to behold is wild iris, that often grow in patches near bodies of
water. Milkweed has become a treasured plant as we have learned monarch butterflies
depend on them to thrive and survive. So just know there are hundreds of kinds of
wildflowers waiting to be “discovered,” some you will know as some kind of a daisy and
others, like Indian paintbrush, so unique you’ll never forget the first time you saw one.

When golden rod and purple asters bloom, they signal fall is on the way. Sumac begin
bearing bright red clusters of berries, while their leaves are still bright green. The
northern landscape advances into fall colors so breathtaking you won’t be able to resist
a drive, bike ride or walk to take them all in. Or jump on an ATV trail and explore the
back country. On a still morning, you can catch the fall colors reflecting on the lake.
Beauty defined.

The winter landscape is when our forests of Norway (red) pines, white pines, jack pines,
spruce and balsam stand proud. Even without their leaves, birch and poplar provide a
contrast. It’s a great time of the year to study bark, find pine cones and take photos,
especially when snow frosts green branches. Occasionally, hoarfrost or rime ice
transform the landscape into true winter wonderlands. Hoarfrost forms on cool, clear

nights, rising from moisture near the ground. Foggy nights when moisture deposits
create spiky formations on cool surfaces can result in rime ice. Close up, hoarfrost and
rime ice look a bit different, but how can anyone resist taking photos when Mother
Nature’s exterior decorators have been at work?
Learn more
If you want to learn more, there are field guides and books for everything from
amphibians to wildflowers or take advantage of naturalist-led hikes year-round at Itasca
State Park or programs at the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge.


Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber, a Partner of Explore Minnesota Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Northwoods Bank, Partner of Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber Citizen's Bank in Park Rapids, MN Park Rapids Downtown Business Association Park Rapids Lakes Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau