One of the most beautiful places to view fall colors is in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It's even been named the #1 place in the US for fall foliage. Almost everywhere you turn there are breathtaking views.

But when is the best time to view the fall colors?

This changes slightly each year, but peak colors in the UP will typically happen somewhere between September 21 and October 15.

WHERE TO START:

Thankfully there are a number of people who work to help keep us informed and track the UP's change of seasons on a day to day basis.

Here's some of our favorite places to track the color changes and peak color in the UP.

Start with Michigan.org's Fall Color Map Predictor. With a handy slider, you can see when colors are expected to peak in each area of Michigan.

Then check in with "Yooper Steve" at FunintheUP.com who provides weekly reports starting in July all the way through October on color changes across the UP. This is an authoritative on-the-ground source for real time color reports!

The Fall Color Blog provides near daily updates on the color changes around the UP and even provides a handy set of Fall Color Tour Maps if you're interested in taking a driving tour.

Trails End Resort is open throughout the Fall color season! Check out what's available and our current promotions below! (Seasonal and Last Minute promotions are always included in your quote when you book direct on our site!).

BEST DESTINATIONS TO VIEW FALL COLORS IN CENTRAL and EASTERN UP

This is somewhat subjective, and visitors always have their own favorite spots. However, there's a few locations that usually make the top of the list.

REMEMBER: color changes are very local and based on climate, humidity, and elevation, so you can have great color one day in one area and things aren't quite there yet just 30 minutes away.

I'll break this into "Destination Spots" and "Road Trips"

Here's my top destination spots:

Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Trails (50 min from Trails End Resort)
This is just such a lush, beautiful area to explore with great views over the falls, and a new foot bridge to cross the river. Hard to go wrong here.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge (10 min)
This is a nationally famous wildlife refuge that happens to be in our backyard. The refuge has a visitors center and a few hiking loops around some gorgeous lakes. There's not a ton of sprawling views here, but you will be immersed in the forest and colors as you walk and surrounded by all kinds of wildlife, plants, mushrooms, and more. If you're looking for a simple hike in the colors close-by, this is it.

Fayette Historic Park and Foot Trails - Garden, MI (75 min from Trails End Resort)
This park is located in the "Garden Peninsula" jutting out into Lake Michigan. It's not heavily trafficked, and doesn't usually make the top of most lists, but it's nice and remote if you want to get off the beaten path. It has a 5-mile foot trail for viewing fall colors. If the colors haven't yet gone north, they might likely be peaking here a little earlier as its on the southernmost point of the UP.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (54 min)
There are several areas around here that are great for viewing, including the Pictured Rocks boat and kayak tours out into Lake Superior. 

Munising Area Waterfalls
Nearby Pictured Rocks, you might also want to check out some of the MANY waterfalls and hikes in this area. A few that may be worth checking out include:

  • Munising Falls - a very very short, 800ft trail to the falls
  • Miners Falls - a 20-minute hike to the gorge from the parking area
  • Wagner Falls - quick, easy stop, 1/2 mile walk, well kept boardwalks and great view.

Laughing Whitefish Falls (80 min)
Probably one of the most impressive and tallest waterfalls in the UP and all of Michigan. And you can get to them with just a 1/2 mile hike through (hopefully) colorful woods in the fall. The falls are a bit further away from us (almost 1.5 hour drive) but well worth driving a bit past Munising, especially if you're already in the area and if the colors are peaking. Just a note that in fall these falls can dwindle a bit if there hasn't been much rain lately.

Mackinac Island
This probably goes without saying, but this is just such a wonderful, quaint place to enjoy the fall colors. Not as remote and certainly more of a tourist attraction, but there's lots to do and see here.

EASTERN & CENTRAL UP FALL COLOR ROAD TRIPS

Here's some road trips in the Eastern and Central UP that I've put together that can be done in one day. I based it on about 3 hours of driving and up to 3 hours of stops for a 6-hour day, but you can extend or shorten these easily by adding in more or less stops.

I've also set these up to leave and return to the resort, but you can click on the Google link and modify based on your own preferences.

#1: THE MUNISING - GRAND MARAIS - SENEY LOOP (3 hrs driving, 144 miles round trip)

This one starts by driving to Munising, but you could easily reverse and it and in Munising, especially if you wanted to the do the Sunset Boat Tour along Pictured Rocks. 

I've put in a few waypoints marked on the map:

  • Munising - stop here for Pictured Rocks tours and to see the beaches and colors along the National Lakeshore
  • Munising Falls - just outside town and easy access from the parking lot to the falls.
  • Kingston Lake Campground - I added this in case you wanted a kind of rest stop, but honestly not much here other than a primitive campground. There are hiking trails here and the beautiful Kingston Lake. It's not a must-stop area, but a nice point before you get to the Sable Falls.
  • Sable Falls - stop here if you'd like to get out and stretch and climb a lot of stairs to Sable Falls! Gorgeous area that will immerse you in the woods. You can continue on past the falls to the sand dunes if you'd like.
  • Grand Marais - here's a great late afternoon stopping point to grab food or a drink or even ice cream. Grand Marais Tavern or Lake Superior Brewing are nice places to eat and drink. I personally prefer the Whitefish Basket and drinks at Grand Marais Tavern. You can also walk for miles along the beach on Lake Superior here.
  • Seney - after that, you can make a stop at Seney Wildlife Refuge or head right back to the resort!

#1: WHITEFISH POINT TOUR (3 hrs driving, 162 miles round trip)

This one can be done "out and back" on the same route OR you can take the loop through Eckerman and Hwy 28 on the way back (as shown on the map).

This is a great 3-hours of driving with some very scenic places to stop. Of course, you can add or remove stops as you'd like. Here's some of my recommendations:

  • Newberry - If you'd like, you can stop in Newberry, you can check out the logging museum, grab a bite to eat, or just drive on through. If you're interested in stopping for a local hike, the Hamilton Lake Nature area has wonderful short walking trails through the woods where you can enjoy being immersed in the fall colors.
  • Oswald's Bear Ranch - this is probably the biggest draw to Newberry. This isn't a zoo - all the bears are rescues. Stop by and support their good work, and enjoy watching the bears!
  • Tahquamenon Falls State Park - maybe one of the most popular stops along the way with lots of views and hiking trails. There's also a new gift shop, restaurant and brewery on-site!
  • Paradise is a small town you might like to stop at. The restaurant in town called the Berry Patch is known for their "Lumberjack Breakfast" served anytime of day. But the most famous restaurant is Brown's Fishery which catches and serves their own Whitefish that are caught each day. They serve until they are sold out. It's likely the freshest Whitefish you'll ever eat unless you catch it yourself! (cash or checks only).
  • Whitefish Point here you'll find the Whitefish Point Lighthouse, Shipwreck Museum, gift shop, and a great board walk looking out over Lake Superior among the dunes (hidden behind the gift shop). There's also a well-known bird observatory there.
  • After that it's choose your own adventure. Take the same road back or loop around south as the map shows.

As this is at a slightly lower elevation than going west, sometimes colors here change a few days earlier, but not always!

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