PARK RAPIDS -- Fall is the perfect time to visit Itasca State Park, north of Park Rapids, and climb the 110-foot-tall ranger tower.

During the 1940s and 1950s the tower was used by park rangers to monitor forests and keep a close watch for forest fires. Later, aircraft monitored the forests on a regular basis.

Today, many state parks across the United States maintain these towers for visitor use.

While at the top of the Aiton Heights Fire Tower in Itasca State Park, visitors have a panoramic 360-degree view of the landscape.

But climbing the tower is not for everyone, especially for those who have fears of heights. Another thing to consider before you start to climb the many steps to various levels is the possibility that the tower will wobble in the wind or when people are walking up or down.

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You can drive to within a short distance from the tower or hike in about three quarters of a mile. Visiting Aiton Heights Fire Tower is well worth your time during your next visit to Itasca State Park.

If you go

Itasca State Park is at 36750 Main Park Drive, north of Park Rapids on U.S. Highway 71 North.

The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.