Early Fall Colors Make Economic Impact

By KBJR News 1

September 7, 2012 Updated Sep 7, 2012 at 10:42 PM CDT

(DULUTH, MN)---The Northland is known for its stunning fall colors, but not usually this early.

This summer's warmer than average temperatures have many wooded areas of the region looking like something we would see later in the season.

Some local business owners and employees are already preparing for an early start to the fall rush of visitors.

Just looking around me, splashes color are already beginning to appear through the landscape.

Take a look around – leaves are changing color and some have even started falling.

The early start to the warm season meant big business for some Duluth companies.

But with fall tourism contributing to the $780 million annual economic impact, will the early fall colors have visitors staying home?

"I would expect that we will do fine this fall," Renee Mattson, Spirit Mountain Executive Director, said.

Renee Mattson is the executive director of Spirit Mountain and she is not concerned about lack of fall business.

"Our adventure park is a very, very popular stop for travelers and the fall colors from our alpine coaster are terrific so people are excited about that," Mattson said.

Although we've had a strange weather year, Renee says business has been up.

Now, with the color rides opening the first or second week of October, Spirit Mountain will more than likely be a big hit.

"From here the vantage point is just spectacular," Mattson said.

For those a little closer to shore, the June flood had some business owners concerned about the entire summer season.

"August just kept picking up, right up to the end of it and Labor Day weekend was one of the biggest weekends we had all season," Justin Steinbach, The Vista Flee President, said.

Steinbach says after the holiday weekend, he normally sees a decline in business.

"This week has been busy, phones have been ringing, reservations have been coming in. So, it seems as though Duluth has a little bit more of a buzz this fall season than it has previously," Steinbach said.

The Vista Fleet owner says he is thankful for the sunny and warm temperatures.

"I think as long as the weather is going to hold, even if the leaves turn a little bit earlier, I think business is going to be strong," Steinbach said.

Anyone visiting Wisconsin can check the status of fall color as well.

If travelers have a smart phone, they can download the Fall Color Report mobile app and track the fall color changes.

Justin Reis, NNC. jreis@northlandsnewscenter.com