#1 Fall Foliage Destination in the U.S.

Lake of the Clouds
Photo credit: Swayang Pratik

When USA Today asked its readers to choose their favorite destination for fall color, they voted Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Number One. That’s not a surprise. From mid-September to mid-October, the U.P.’s seven million acres of hardwood and pine forests are drenched in fiery hues of yellow, orange and red mixed with rich green and brown. Autumn is breathtaking.

Our 10 fall color tours will take you up to mountain tops, to the edge of thundering waterfalls, along leaf-strewn trails and multi-colored rocky shores. Everywhere you turn, you will swear the vista is more beautiful than the one before.

Follow our weekly reports to know when and where to find the best leaf displays. Updates are every Wednesday beginning the last week of September until the second week of October.

Driving our fall color tours is exhilarating, but even they cannot rival the up-close leaf views hiking, biking or ATVing along tree-canopied trails offer. The cool temperatures by day are perfect for motorcycling along twisty back roads. Golfers can get their preferred tee times on courses whose biggest distraction is the scenery. And rivers and lakes mirror the blazing tree colors and bright blues of the sky as you paddle for miles past wildlife gathering along the banks.

Three Great Lakes, Michigan, Huron and Superior, lure you to their sandy beaches, towering dunes and rocky shoals where you will be spellbound by the pounding surf or glass-like calmness. Along our coasts, you can see 40 lighthouses, giant freighters, awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets.

This time of year, the U.P. welcomes thousands of songbirds, raptors and waterfowl migrating south on ancient flight paths. Or see hundreds of monarch butterflies rest on the Garden and Stonington Peninsulas as they wing their way to warmer winter climates.

Hunters and anglers bring back trophies and boasting rights that they share over dinner. Restaurants serve up hearty pasties and piping-hot meals made from Old World recipes handed down for generations. Thimbleberry jams, whitefish dips, monk-made breads, creamy fudge and hand-dipped chocolates are local fall favorites.

Fall events bring everyone together over hand-crafted beers and wines, music and films, haunted trails and pumpkins, running and hockey. A hearth with a crackling fire, a good book and a comfy chair eases work-stressed nerves. And the Northern Lights that swirl across the sky in October and November are stunning reminders that the colors of fall are bright at night, too. Come stay awhile.