Fall Questions & Answers
What is the best time to view Michigan’s fall colors?
Generally, the annual seasonal show peaks in stages, beginning at the top of the state in the Upper Peninsula, where it gets cooler first. It then moves southward. Peak color is usually found in the U.P. between mid-September and early October; in the northern Lower Peninsula between late September and mid-October; in mid-Michigan from early to mid-October, and in southern Lower Michigan from mid- to late October. Color patterns, however, depend greatly on the weather as well as other factors including lake-effect warming, which delays color changes near Great Lakes and inland water shorelines. In addition, cooler valleys or exposed hills may see color changing faster, so call ahead before you go.
How does weather affect the fall colors?
Weather conditions in summer and early September largely determine how brilliant each season’s colors will be. According to David Beachler, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, a dry, hot summer inflicts stress on the trees; therefore when it cools, the chlorophyll that breaks down in the leaves can produce a quick color change. Alternately, a cool, wet summer can produce a color show that is brighter and lasts longer. Adequate summer rainfall means leaves will be bigger and healthier come autumn. Autumn rain is desirable, but continuous cloudy weather is not, since that would stop the production that creates the brilliant reds and golds found in oaks and maples, Michigan’s most prevalent tree species. However, keep in mind that with the temperament of the weather, “Mother Nature” still has the final hand in how the colors change.
How many species of trees are there and what colors do they turn?
There are nearly 150 different species of trees in Michigan’s 18.6 million acres of forest. Our state boasts a colorful mix of yellows, reds, golds and oranges. Some of the most beautiful colors are displayed by such hardwoods as aspen, maple, birch, sumac and oak. When combined with a background of evergreen forest, the result is one of the best shows in the nation.
What will our fall be like this year?
According to Mark Torregrossa at Mlive.com:
The wet weather across Michigan in the past two months should help the trees perk back up after very droughty conditions in June and part of July. So the current forecast for Michigan’s peak fall colors is for color to be a week to 10 days later than usual.
This would mean peak colors are estimated to occur:
Upper Peninsula – October 7-14
Northern Lower Michigan – October 14-21
Central Lower Michigan – October 21-28
Southern Lower Michigan – October 23-30
Remember — this is a forecast based on very little color showing now, and weather that looks warmer than normal on average for the next few weeks.
What is the best way to view West Michigan’s fall color show?
There is no single best way to enjoy the fall color display. Michigan travelers have a plethora of ways to enjoy the show, either by car, train, boat, bicycle, hot air balloon rides, at festivals, hiking, on golf courses and luxury resorts, or historic highways. Many of these “old roads” cut through great stands of hardwood and pines and make perfect color tours, and some are state-designated scenic routes.
Are there driving tours already mapped out for my convenience?
West Michigan Tourist Association has dozens of Autumn Color Tours — from 40 miles to 140 miles, worth exploring! Travel Michigan also has an extensive list of “Driving Tours” – from color tours to foodie tours (perfect during the fall season) to maritime and heritage tours, and more!
How can I keep track of the most current fall color conditions?
Travel Michigan offers a weekly fall color report that is emailed, upon request. Sign up on this website, in the last paragraph. http://www.michigan.org/fall/.
Where can I find a list of fall festivals and events for Michigan?
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Becoming An Outdoors Woman
Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds
Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds
West Michigan Tourist Association
Upper Peninsula Travel & Recreation Association
Michigan Association of Paddlesport Providers
Michigan Department of Agriculture
Michigan Agri-Tourism Association
Michigan Farm Markets & Pick Directory
Michigan Farm Markets Association
Michigan Apple Tours
Michigan Wine Council
Michigan Brewers Guild
Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association
Michigan Hard Cider Guild
Michigan Craft Distillers Association