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
Our reporting on 2017 fall color and leaf change began Sept 15 as color is starting to appear around the lake. The following is an overview of what to expect based on our past experience, followed by our second update for 2017.
Scroll Down to See our 10/12 FALL COLOR UPDATE
below the Fall Color Overview.
* See our regional tourism and weather report links midway down the page.
In the second week of September we begin to see hints of fall color change around Lake Superior. Leaves start to turn lime green, some start to show hints of yellow and orange. Even though far from peak fall color, early September travel offers cooler evenings, crisp early fall days, and reduced competition for various lodging, dining and attractions of interest to the scenic traveler.
Some of the earliest Fall Color in mid-September around Lake Superior can be found away from the lake south of Ashland, WI and in 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. Later in the season the best color is nearer the lake and in lower elevations along some of the hiking trails.
In the Keweenaw Peninsula, peak color generally arrives late September, early October.
In the central UP a scenic fall drive I'd recommend is the H58 county road between Munising and Grand Marais, Michigan. Also you'll find good fall color along the road to Miners Castle in Pictured Rocks National Park. If you take a Pictured Rocks Boat Tour, in addition to the amazing painted rocks you'll get to see some nice leaf color as a backdrop. East of Pictured Rocks, between Newberry and Paradise is Tahquamenon Falls, beautiful any time of the year but especially with fall 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 years it is a little later.
Planning your Fall Color Tour Vacation. For indicators of fall color change possibilities, check our Fall Color Report Updates Archives. For example, in 2014, several areas were showing good color by September 23rd; but in 2015 color change was more modest at this time of year. In 2016 color changed slower than recent years and lasted further into October.
But watch out for waiting until Peak Color because some years the leaves start falling before they completely turn
(PS Refresh the web page to ensure you get the latest report)
Fall Color Report Update - October 12, 2017
Peak Fall Color is here in most places or coming soon. Go now for the best color!
In the Western UP (around the Porcupine Mountains and Black River Harbor). color change is up to 100% in some areas away from the lake. Colors are looking very good along the Black River Scenic Byway and County 505 on the way to Little Girls Point. The Copper Peak Chairlift Ride should provide good color this weekend and the coming week.
In the Porkies color change is progressing (about 50% or greater) nicely from Lake of the Clouds and more dramatic color from Summitt Peak. Perhaps the above average rainfall and warmer than normal weather has delayed the changes. During the coming week and weekend, I recommend taking the chairlift ride at the Porkies as well as the scenic vistas from Lake of the Clouds and Summitt Peak.
Peak Fall Color has arrived in the Keweenaw Peninsula (Houghton to Copper Harbor). South of Houghton along Hwy 26 near Twin Lakes it is near 100%. North of Houghton towards Calumet colors are popping pop nicely. Expect the drive along the lake via Eagle River and Eagle Harbor to be less than 100%. Probably the best color in the Keweenaw right now is along the drive via US 41 from Delaware to Copper Harbor. It is close to 100% . Brockaway Mountain Drive is 80% or greater. Copper Harbor itself could reach peak very soon as well.
The central UP around Pictured Rocks National Park is coming along nicely with over 50% change and Tahquamenon Falls is now about 50% color change and changing fast. Peak color could be very soon. Great Color this weekend. East of Tahquamenon Falls towards the Soo typically doesn't reach peak until well into October, sometimes even mid-October or later.
Hurley is reporting about 100% color change. Ashland and Bayfield close to 100%.
We recommend a drive through the Bayfield Orchard Country for pumpkins, fall produce and jams, and colorful scenery. A good color drive away from the lake is Hwy 13 Ashland to Copper Falls State Park then Hwy 169 through Gurney and then take Hwy 2 west back to Ashland.
Between Bayfield and Superior, along the lake on Highway 13 it is showing good color, likewise between Ashland and Superior along Highway 2. East of Superior, Wisconsin drive into Amnicon Falls State Park for decent fall color, attractive waterfalls, and scenic hiking trails.
A color drive bonus of recent rainfall is the waterfalls are running strong.
As of October 12th the DNR is reporting 75 - 100% color change along Scenic Highway 61 (Minnesota North Shore) from Lutsen to Grand Portage with the best color inland on the high ridges, less along the lake. Stop in the visitor center at Tettegouche State Park for color tour maps. This weekend there should be great color riding the Lutsen Mountain Gondola to the top of Moose Mountain.
From Duluth to Temperance River State Park the color change is getting close to 75% and in some areas higher, with the greatest color change inland away from the lake. For some good color and exercise, take a hike to the top of Ely Peak, Carlton Peak or Oberg Mountain.
Because most of the hardwoods in the boreal forests of Ontario are Aspen and some birch you don't see much color change around Thunder Bay and north until October. On the eastern end between Sault Sainte Marie and Wawa, where the forest has more variety, expect some good color around the end of September and first week or two of October.
Thanks to Tara Arens at the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce, Theresa Neal at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Bob Wild at Porcupine Mountains Park, Amanda Oppe at the Keweenaw Convention Bureau, and Copper Harbor Improvement Association for help with these reports.
Have a fall foilage or color report to pass along or a question - write me
Ross Reinhold - firstname.lastname@example.org
Regional Tourism & Peak Fall Color Report Links:
Michigan UP Travel
Keweenaw 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 - 2017
Lake Superior Camping
& Campground Directory
Camping along the Lake Superior Circle Drive.
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.
See the lighthouses on an Apostle Islands Cruise.