Top 5 Spots for Fall Color Viewing
Fall for the vibrant reds, yellows and oranges
With more than 20 million acres of forest land covering 54 percent of the state, Michigan is one of the best places to experience the explosion of fall colors with a drive, hike or bike ride to awaken the senses. Plan a visit to see the eye-catching foliage from late September to mid-November.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was voted the #1 Best Destination for Fall Foliage by USA Today readers, and there’s good reason why. There are more than four million acres of protected forestland filled with ash, aspen, beech, birch, maple, oak, sycamore and tamarack trees. With colors that stay brighter longer on the north side of the peninsula thanks to Lake Superior’s marine climate, the Porcupine Mountains, Marquette and Munising are ideal locations for fall color tour getaways.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is the largest state park in Michigan with 60 thousand acres of majestic woods, waterfalls and trails. There are abundant opportunities throughout the park to view the fiery hues of fall.
A scenic overlook with views of steep, tree-filled slopes of vibrant foliage and the park’s famous Lake of the Clouds is a favorite. View the colors from 2,000 feet above sea level with a climb up the 50-foot Summit Peak Observation Tower. On the west side of the park, the Presque Isle River waterfalls offer a beautiful flowing backdrop to the glowing trees.
In Marquette, popping fall colors can be viewed from the top of a rock, a bridge and a scenic mountain lookout platform.
Hike a universally accessible trail through the woods to the top of Thomas Rock. Not only will you see lake views and leaves, you’ll see Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed-and-Breakfast to the north. The CR 510 bridge is an ideal location for photographing the Dead River and the historic 1921 bridge that it replaced. Experience 360-degree views of festive fall from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain on a scenic overlook platform.
The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising adds colorful sandstone cliffs and turquoise waters to the fall colors. Take in the scenery on an ATV trail, hike on 100 miles of trails along 42 miles of Lake Superior’s shore, mountain bike on four diverse trail systems or view the vibrancy from the water on a kayak or Pictured Rocks cruise. Whichever way you choose to tour, you won’t be disappointed.
The glowing reds, yellows and oranges aren’t limited to the Upper Peninsula. Michigan has great color tours below the bridge too.
The M-22 Color Tour was voted the #1 Best Fall Scenic Drive by USA Today readers. The 116-mile road circles the Leelanau Peninsula and takes you along the shores of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. Drive through peaceful countryside along the way and visit eateries, wineries, galleries and unique shops as you bask in the brilliant colors.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive offers world-famous views of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and nature’s fall color palette. The 7.4-mile one-way drive loops through a Beech-Maple forest and has 12 stops along the way to view the scenery, which includes a historic covered bridge and lake and dune overlooks. Make sure to stop at Overlook #11 for views of North Bar Lake, Empire Bluff and a plethora of colors.
2022 Peak Color Forecasts by Region
Upper Peninsula: September 26 – October 15
Northern Michigan: October 17 – October 29
Mid-Michigan: October 24 – November 5
Southern Michigan: October 31 – November 12
Get up early. Morning mist and sunbeam patterns add to the majesty of the experience. For driving tours, be sure to clean your car windows before you go so you can get the full effect.
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