Fall foliage season is upon us — and Michigan boasts lots of spots perfect for leaf-peeping. Peak colors only last through October, so jump in the car and check out the breathtaking sights along these scenic routes
By Chelsie Dzbanski
Featured photo via Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Facebook
Peak fall foliage in Michigan can range from mid-September through the end of October
This 7.4 mile drive located inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a must-visit year round, but especially in fall. Travel through plush autumn forests and snap photos at breathtaking overlooks of the Glen Lakes, the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lake Michigan.
Experience all that the west side of the state has to offer along the scenic West Michigan Pike (US 31) route. Take in vast forests full of changing colors as well as sand dunes, beaches and wildlife wonders. We recommend pitstops in St. Joseph, Muskegon and everywhere in between.
Historic Motor Tour (US-27)
From Coldwater to Cheboygan, explore hundreds of miles of “Pure Michigan” while taking in autumn’s beauty. Visit college towns, stop at Lakelands Trail State Park or hit up Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort along the way.
One of Michigan’s most iconic attractions, this scenic road lets you experience the brilliance of fall. The route starts in Petoskey, with the official “Tunnel of Trees” beginning just north of Harbor Springs where the highway becomes very narrow. Enjoy a 20-mile ride along a spectacular bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, lined with blazing trees.
Travel this quick, 45-minute route in the Upper Peninsula along the top of Lake Michigan for a spectacular view of the picturesque shoreline.
Take a tour around the world’s largest freshwater lake while reveling In the water’s beauty as this 1,300-mile tour winds through Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario. Be sure to stop at Porcupine Mountains State Park for stunning views!
Old Mission Peninsula (M-37)
Lined with vineyards, apple trees and dazzling blue bays, the Old Mission Peninsula, just North of Traverse City, can be explored in just hours. Sip wine, take a scenic hike, dip your toes in the water and browse antique shops along this scenic, 18-mile route.
Huron River Drive (Ann Arbor to Dexter)
Experience the magic of Michigan fall right outside Metro Detroit. Enjoy a 20-minute drive surrounded by fall colors from Ann Arbor to Dexter along Huron River Drive.
In the northwest corner of the Upper Peninsula, the Black River National Forest Scenic Byway features natural wonders and attractions that enhance the colors of fall. Stop at Black River Harbor Park and hike over to Rainbow Falls or take a chairlift ride to the top of the mountain at Copper Peak for an out-of-this-world view of Lake Superior.
Travel along Lake Michigan on one of America’s most beautiful routes with this 116-mile road that starts in Manistee and travels north through Traverse City. Wind through peaceful countrysides and shorelines dotted with colorful trees and and visit wineries, galleries and more along the way.
Discover 200 miles of shoreline, forests, wetlands, lighthouses, parks, trails, museums, small towns and more on the Heritage Route 23. Enjoy spectacular views of Lake Huron surrounded by forests painted with fall colors.
Full of beauty and history, the Copper Country Trail National Byway stretches 47 miles from Houghton to Copper Harbor. The route honors the triumphs and tragedies associated with copper mining as it follows the underground copper lode — so you can relish the history alongside the beautiful sights.
This 22-mile route extends westward from Lake Huron and into the Huron-Manistee National Forests, where you can take in the sights of a lush autumn trees from many scenic overlooks along the way. The route also offers plenty of recreation opportunities for camping, fishing, hiking and more.
Explore Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula along the Tahquamenon Scenic Byway. This 63-mile journey will take you through vast, untamed land where you’ll experience Michigan autumn in the raw. Stop at Tahquamenon Falls, one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, for breathtaking views and take a scenic drive around Lake Superior.