If you want to see amazing fall color, Michigan is the place to be in October. Our thick forests full of hardwoods paint the landscape in brilliant reds, yellows and oranges. Our plentiful orchards and farm markets ensure you’ll be able to take home some of our autumn bounty for yourself.
Colors peak in the Upper Peninsula the first week of October followed by Northern Michigan, Central Michigan and finally the southern Lower Peninsula the last week of October. Many areas right along the lake shore throughout the lower peninsula also do not peak until the end of October because of influences from the lakes. These are average dates. Color can come a week earlier or a week later, but even if it’s not at peak there will still be plenty of color to see.
The Upper Peninsula – Usually colors are at peak October 1st through 7th. Begin your tour at Twin Lakes State Park on M-26 where you’ll see beautiful Lake Roland nestled in the woods. Next, head north to the cities of Houghton and Hancock. Stop and visit the eclectic shops and restaurants in these towns that straddle the Houghton canal. Head further north on 41 to Calumet, the gateway to the Keweenaw National Historic Park which features the area’s copper mining history. Stop at the Visitor’s Center in downtown Calumet for information about the park’s interpretive sites. Keep heading north to Laurium, Mohawk and Phoenix. Pick up M-26 again at Phoenix and continue on to Eagle River, Eagle Harbor and finally Copper Harbor at the tip of the peninsula. Drive to the top of Brockway Mountain where you’ll get a spectacular view of the fall colors, rolling hills and Lake Superior.
Northern Michigan – Color normally peaks here between October 7th and the 14th with inland areas peaking sooner than those closer to the water. From Petoskey, head east on Mitchell road and stop Bill’s Farm Market just outside of town. Continue on county roads toward Wolverine. From there, go south to Boyne City. Stop at Boyne Mountain Ski Resort where you can take in the fall foliage from their ski lift. US 131 takes you north back to Petoskey. Be sure to visit Grandpa Shorter’s when you’re back in town!
M-119 and the famed Tunnel of Trees is another popular fall drive in Northern Michigan. From Harbor Springs, head north to Cross Village. The tunnel is a 20 mile stretch running along a Lake Michigan bluff where the tops of the thick evergreens and hardwoods form a canopy over the road, lit in autumn color. Sharp turns like Devil’s Elbow and Horseshoe Curve add to the thrill of traveling the narrow road. Farm markets, unique shops and restaurants give you interesting places to stop along the way.
Central Michigan – Fall color is at its peak here October 14th through the 21st. You can make the drive north from Mt. Pleasant to Cadillac and enjoy the fall scenery along M-115, but the most popular way to see the sites between Mt. Pleasant and Cadillac is by train. The train departs Mountain Town Station and travels through the Michigan countryside. Passengers visit downtown Cadillac for shopping and sightseeing before returning to Mt. Pleasant.
Southern Lower Peninsula – Colors in the southern lower peninsula normally peak between October 21st and 28th. To see gorgeous fall color head toward Silver Lake State Park, near the shores of Lake Michigan, where you can see the colors on a dune ride. At the park, you can also hike to Little Sable Point Lighthouse and see the bright leaves against the backdrop of Silver Lake. Next drive to the nearby lakeside towns of Hart and Mears for shopping and dining. You’ll find orchards and farm markets all along the way bursting with the fall’s harvest.
The Thumb – On of the areas influenced by the warming effect of the lakes, colors in The Thumb peak mid to late October. Starting in Port Huron, drive all the way around The Thumb on M25 north. It takes you along the shores of Lake Huron to Port Austin. Stop at Port Crescent State Park for a walk along Lake Huron. From there continue on M25 as it swings back south to Bay City. In Bay City head to the Bay City Recreation Area and hike the Tobico Marsh trail for spectacular color. Downtown Bay City offers shopping and dining along the lake front.