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2023 ULTIMATE Upper Peninsula Fall Colors Travel Planner

Michigans beautiful fall colors at Brockway Mountain the U.P.
Fall Colors at Brockway Mountain

by Jill Halpin

Best Places to See Upper Peninisula Michigan Fall Colors

If you’re planning a trip to see the Upper Peninsula fall colors this year, you’re in for a treat.

The fall color reports are in, and leaf-peeping the fall color change promises to be simply stunning in 2023. The vibrant fall color in Michigan is some of the prettiest in the country, and Michigan’s peak colors start earliest in the U.P., the northernmost part of Michigan.

Michigan, especially the northern parts like the Upper Peninsula, experiences a stunning display of fall colors during the autumn months. The foliage typically peaks from late September to early October. The mix of tree species, including maple, oak, birch, and others, contribute to the vibrant hues that blanket the landscape.

If your fall activities and autumn Michigan travels include scenic drives to see the amazing color change, check out the Michigan fall colors map and start planning your road trip to the U.P.

Read on, because we’ve put together some trip ideas and fall color drives so you can experience fall across the Upper Peninsula!

fall colors at cut river bridge

Be sure to check out the Michigan Fall Color Prediction Map for some pure Michigan leaf peeping.

Fall Color in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula

Drummond Island

As the air turns crisp and leaves transform into a dazzling array of reds, oranges, and golds, Drummond Island turns into a secluded paradise for fall enthusiasts. This is a pretty spot to explore in the fall, with untouched landscapes and a truly serene atmosphere.

From leisurely hikes along the island’s trails, which wind through lush forests ablaze with autumnal hues, to kayaking along the tranquil shoreline, every corner of Drummond Island offers a new perspective on fall’s beauty.

The sprawling island is even more beautiful in fall, when the rich foliage of the forest come alive with color, set off the rich blues of Lake Huron. It’s quiet and restful here in the fall, a perfect time to commune with nature and the changing seasons.

The Soo Locks in the fall
Soo Locks

Sault Ste. Marie

The deep blue of the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie provides a stunning backdrop for the vibrant fall colors. After you tour the engineering miracle that is the Soo Locks, take some time to wander charming downtown Sault Ste. Marie!

Don’t miss the Whitefish at the Lockview Restaurant, where you can watch the freighters as they pass by.

Les Cheneaux Islands

Cross the Mackinac Bridge in St. Ignace and head east along the Lake Huron shore. The Les Cheneaux Islands area, with its mix of forests and waterways, can offer a picturesque setting for enjoying fall foliage.
You’ll find 36 small Lake Huron islands here, and two small towns, Cedarville and Hessel, which are quiet, friendly and laid-back. You’ll love the scenic drive and hiking trails along the shore. Be sure to kayak around the islands to fully appreciate the autumn colors.

tahquamenon falls in fall
Tahquamenon Falls

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Popular Tahquamenon Falls State Park is beautiful any time of the year, but we like it best in the fall, when there’s not as many visitors and we can relax as we walk along the trails, surrounded by the sound of rushing water.

Surrounded by a mix of colorful hardwoods and pine trees in the autumn months, these are the largest falls on this side of the Mississippi and is a must on your Michigan fall color tour. There are two Michigan waterfalls here: the larger and more dramatic Upper Falls and the five cascading falls that make up the Lower Falls. Follow the ADA accessible trails to the viewing platforms to see the falls.

the cut river bridge in the fall
Fall at teh Cut River Bridge

Cut River Bridge

Located west of St. Ignace along the Lake Michigan Scenic Highway in Naubinway, the Cut River Bridge provides dramatic vistas of Lake Michigan and the surrounding Lake Superior State Forest.

Standing more than 150 feet above the Cut River Valley below, you can park at the top of the rover and hike down to the River below. The color here is spectacular, one of my favorite places to visit in Michigan in the fall.

One of only two cantilevered truss bridges in Michigan (the other is over the Cooley River in Manistee, MI), Cut River Bridge is a must-visit destination, offering an unforgettable experience of Michigan’s fall charm.

Copper Harbor in the fall

Find more fall color from the My Michigan Beach Fall Color Guide

Places to See Best Fall Colors in the Keweenaw Peninsula

Copper Harbor

All the way up at the tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – the very-tip – is Copper Harbor.
Jutting out into wildly beautiful Lake Superior, this small town in the Keweenaw Peninsula packs a ton of beauty into this relatively small area. In addition to Lake Superior, you’ve also got Lake Fanny Hooe, a favorite with fisherman, outdoorsmen-and-women, and photographers.

The deep blues of this pretty inland lake make for some amazing pictures when the leaves turn on their fiery red, orange and yellow charms. The tall, white Copper Harbor Lighthouse always appears a little brighter in the fall, in contrast with Lake Superior and the surrounding fall forest. Copper Harbor is also where you’ll leave for Isle Royale National Park, a three-hour ferry ride into Lake Superior.

Keweenaw National Historic Park in Calumet

A visit to the village of Calumet in the Keweenaw Peninsula is like taking a step-back in time: a time when the area was the thriving hub of copper mining; providing tons of valuable minerals to the entire world.

Keweenaw National Historic Park, which celebrates the rich history of the Upper Peninsula’s copper mining traditions, is a collection of historic buildings throughout the area which tell the story of the area’s rise to the epicenter of copper. This historic site is even prettier in the fall.

Brockway Mountain

One of the top fall color drives in Michigan, Brockway Mountain in Copper Harbor is a 9.5 mile drive towering more than 700 feet above the level of Lake Superior. Also the highest paved road between the Rocky and Allegheny Mountain ranges, the views of the vibrant fall foliage are unforgettable.

fall foliage in michigan upper peninsula
Lake of the Clouds

Best Places to See Fall Colors in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula

Looking for the best places to see peak fall colors in the Upper Peninsula. The Michigan fall foliage in Michigan’s western U.P. is some of the prettiest in the country.

Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

One of the most-photographed spots in the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan becomes even more picturesque in the fall, when the surrounding wilderness of the Porcupine Mountains are ablaze with fall colors.

Lake of the Clouds – named for the picture-perfect reflection of the clouds in the pristine, clear water is a stunning sight any time of the year. Set in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, its natural setting was made for hiking and exploring. You find a hiking trail for every ability, whether you’re looking for a short hike or something longer.

In the fall, the Porcupine Mountains wilderness is almost overwhelmingly beautiful, especially when viewed from the M-107 Scenic Overlook, which is fully accessible. Plan enough time so you won’t be hurried as you explore the trails in this old-growth forest in the Western Upper Peninsula at its most-beautiful.

Copper Peak Adventure Ride in Ironwood

If you’re a thrill-seeker, or simply brave enough to ascend to the highest point in the Midwest via a chair lift and elevator you’re in for a real treat. The Copper Peak Adventure Ride allows you to travel along the highest ski jump in the Midwest to an observation deck, where you’ll have an unobstructed, 360-degree view of fall colors.

Imagine the beauty of the vibrant forests of color stretching out for 2,500 square miles, three states and even Canada on a clear fall day. This is leaf-peeping at its best.

fayette in the fall

Fayette: Upper Peninsula Ghost Town

Located along the northern Lake Michigan border between Escanaba and Manistique, Fayette Historic State Park and Harbor is the site of a once-booming town famous for smelting iron that is now abandoned. The surrounding white, limestone bluffs are a stark contrast to the vibrant fall foliage in this Upper Peninsula ghost town, and a little eerie in the autumn.

pictured rocks national lakeshore in the fall
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Best Places to See Fall Colors in the Eastern Upper Peninsula

Magnificent Munising, Michigan in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

You can’t go wrong visiting the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore any time during the fall: it is must-see on your fall color tour.

We suggest starting in Munsing, meandering along the coast with a plan to spend some hiking. The national lakeshore, all 42 miles of it, is really spectacular in the fall around the Munising area.

The towering sandstone cliffs, topped by the bright reds, yellows, and golds, is a sight to behold from kayaking or on foot during the autumn months. You all also find sand dunes, hidden beaches and waterfalls to explore. You’ll want to see Grand Island, just a three-minute ferry ride from Munising.

marquette michigan in the fall

Marquette Michigan

Hip-and-happening Marquette is growing quickly, and the natural beauty of the area has a lot to do with it.

With Lake Superior shoreline on one side, it’s surrounded by thick forests full of trails of hiking biking and any other kind of exploring you might want to do. In the fall, students from Northern Michigan University head back to campus and the whole town really comes alive.

Wander downtown Marquette and explore the local breweries and restaurants, shops, and galleries before making your way to the harbor for some truly stunning scenery.

Presque Isle Park, home to the famed Black Rocks Cliffs and McCarty’s Cove are two spots you’ll want to visit for sure. These two areas are particularly pretty during the fall: the natural beauty of Lake Superior coast is Michigan fall color splendor at its best.

kitch iti kipi in the fall
Kitch Iti Kipi, Michigan’s Big Spring

Kitch-iti-Kipi – Michigan’s Big Spring

Head to Palms Book State Park in Manistique to see one of the natural wonders of Michigan. Kitch-iti-Kipi is a 40-foot-deep natural spring with a brilliant emerald color. Take a hand-operated raft across the spring and peer down to the bottom, where you’ll see fish congregating in the cool spring waters.

Kitch-iti-Kipi is gorgeous any time of the year, but the beautiful green of the water contrasted with the bright reds, yellows and golds of the fall leaves is breathtaking.

Seven places to upper peninsula michigan fall colors

More Michigan Travel Destinations

About the Author-

Journalist Jill Halpin is a lifelong Michigan resident and spends her time sailing, skiing and hiking through beautiful Michigan.