View from Summit Peak, Porcupine Mountains
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park
Western Upper Peninsula Fall Color Scenic Drives along Lake Superior
Maps Scenic Drives Fall Foliage Color Tours
Wisconsin Fall Color Scenic Drives along Lake Superior
North Shore Fall Color Scenic Drives; Fall Color Duluth, Minnesota
* See our regional tourism and weather report links midway down the page.
About the third week in September look for Maples, Beeches, hickories and some shrubs to show good fall color in some parts of the Lake Superior Region and from this point on can enjoy colorful fall foliage and beautiful fall weather - great for active outdoors activities.
Some of the earliest Fall Color in mid-September around Lake Superior can be found away from the lake south of Ashland, WI and the western Upper Peninsula east of Ironwood Michigan. One color trip we've enjoyed in the past and would be a great one this year is a scenic waterfalls color tour in Northern Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula. This route takes in Copper Falls State Park, Potato River Falls, the falls along the Black River Harbor Scenic Byway, and the water falls along the Presque Isle River in the western park of Porcupine Mountains State Park.
The earliest fall color in the Porkies can be found in the woods and trails that are away from the lake. Don't miss the view from the top of Summit Peak and from the Lake of the Clouds Overlook. Peak color arrives late September, early October in the Keweenaw Peninsula. In the central UP a scenic fall drive I'd recommend is the H58 county road between Munising and Grand Marais, Michigan. Also consider a Pictured Rocks Boat Tour, in addition to the amazing painted rocks you'll get to see some nice leaf color as a backdrop.
In Minnesota Peak Color arrives in late September away from the lake and into the first week in October near the lake. We've found the best fall color along Scenic Highway 61 on Minnesota's North Shore is generally from Silver Bay to Lutsen, with hikes or a gondola ride to tops of mountain peaks giving the best color or a drive inland away from the lake. Some years along the North Shore you get a second season of fall color in October as the birches, aspen, and tamarack turn (always later than Maples, Oaks, and Hickories).
In Wisconsin, from Superior near Amnicon Falls to Ashland peak color usually arrives the last week in September and first two weeks in October. Sometimes peak color arrives at the same time as the annual Bayfield Apple Festival (the first weekend in October); other year's it is a little later.
We'll be surveying various reporters around the lake beginning mid-Septemeber so look for our first 2015 Fall Color Report Updates around that time. Below our color report update are some links to regional tourism websites as well as weather reports from selected spots around Lake Superior.
Planning your Fall Color Tour Vacation. In addition to watching this space, also see our links to fall color reports from last year and earlier years to give you a better idea of when the color changes and when peak color arrives in the area of your interest.
Here's how it was last year on 9/23
Fall Color Report Update - September 23, 2014 (For historical comparisons)
Naturalist Bob Wild at Porcupine Mountains State Park reports seeing some quite vivid color this season and estimates color change at 40 - 60% with some pockets at peak right now and rapidly improving. This coming weekend could be ideal and if the weather holds color may persist til the following weekend
We were in the central Upper Peninsula around last week and already color was starting to appeaer in spots and seemed to changing daily. Between Grand Marais and Munising on H58 through Pictured Rocks National Park, the Maples and Beeches were 25% changed (some Beeches even more) and I'd expect seeing some nice splashes of color along this scenic drive this coming week and into the rest of the month.
Theresa at Tahquamenon Falls State Park reports about 40% color change with Peak expected first week in October. If leaves hold may see color into second week.
West of Marquette, along route 41 and west & south, the color change was approaching 50% and by this weekend it could be 75%. Nice color now and will only improve this weekend and for the rest of the month. Closer to the Wisconsin border in the western UP and near Ironwood and Black River Harbor color is now at 75% and could see peak color within a week.
We are still waiting for a report from Houghton and the Keweenaw but we know they typically lag Ironwood and Porkies by a week. The Eastern Upper Peninsula can lag the western part by two weeks.
Hurley is at 75% and Ashland and Mercer areas are at 50%. I'd expect 75% peak color around Copper Falls State Park. So this coming weekend should be quite nice in those two northern counties of Iron and Ashland as well as around Park Falls. See our Lake Superior Wisconsin Fall Color Map and our Wisconsin Fall Color Tours page for recommended scenic fall color tour drives.
Bayfield and west towards Superior, Wisconsin peak color is at least two weeks away.
Near the Minnesota Border by Grand Portage, color change is between 50 - 75% and progressing nicely. Kjersti at Cook County Visitors Bureau reports 30 - 50% for Grand Marais area, with peak expected first week in October. From Split Rock State Park to Temperance River State color change is between 25 and 50%. The best fall color at the present time will be away from the lake. A nice drive is north on Highway 1 from Tettegouche State Park to the town of Finland. Stop in the Tettegouche Visitor Center for tour maps.
Lutsen & Tofte areas are bright with colors right now. This coming weekend and the following should be excellent for riding tthe Lutsen Mountain Gondola to the top of Moose Mountain.
Duluth to Two Harbors generally lags behind about a week the color change around Lutsen. And areas with lots of Aspen and Birch generally don't show color change until October.
Because most of the hardwoods are Aspen and some birch you don't see much color change around Thunder Bay until October. On the eastern end between Sault Sainte Marie and Wawa expect some good color around the end of September. (We are still waiting for reports from this area).
Rainfall in September along the south shore of Lake Superior has been ample which I think means that the leaves will hang on the trees a while. It also means the areas with attractive waterfalls - like Black River Scenic Byway. Presque Isle River (Porcupine Mountains), and Tahquamenon Falls - will be especially attractive with roaring waterfalls and decent fall color and foliage.(See links to these areas near the top of this page).
For other useful historical comparisons, see More Fall Color Reports covering our reports from 2011 to 2014
Have a color report to pass along or a question - write me
Ross Reinhold - email@example.com
Regional Tourism & Peak Fall Color Report Links:
Michigan UP: Copper Harbor
Keweenaw Visitors Bureau
Western UP Visitors Bureau
Bayfield, WI Fall Colors
Superior-Dougles County Fall Color Updates
Minnesota: DNR NorthShore Parks
Ontario North Shore: NorthofSuperior.org
Ontario North East Shore: Saulttourism.com
Weather Channel Links:
Ironwood, Michigan UP
Houghton, Keweenaw Peninsula Michigan UP
Marquette, Michgan UP
Sault Saint Marie, Michigan UP
Ashland-Bayfield Peninsula, Wisconsin
Grand Marais, Minnesota
Wawa, Ontario Canada
Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
Why Do Leaves Change Color?
"A growing season with ample moisture that is followed by a rather dry, cool, sunny autumn that is marked by warm days and cool but frostless nights provides the best weather conditions for development of the brightest fall colors," - - - Learn more from this article from the PBS News Hour's website.
SuperiorTrails.com - Reinhold Development - 2015
Lake Superior Camping
& Campground Directory
Lake Superior Circle Tour Route
Outstanding Fall Color Porcupine Mountains Lake of the Clouds scenic overlook.
Fall Color & Waterfalls along Black River Harbor Scenic Parkway
Tahquamenon Falls State Park offers some of the best fall color in the eastern Upper Peninsula.