Michigan is known for having some of the best fall foliage in the country. You can see a variety of red, yellow, and orange leaves by just driving through the state.
If you want to find a wonderful spot to stop and take pictures, or if you want to hike through the colorful leaves, take a look at our list of the best fall scenic overlooks in Michigan.
Best Michigan Scenic Overlooks for Viewing Fall Colors in the Upper Peninsula
Copper Peak Adventure Ride
Home of the largest ski jump in the world, Copper Peak in Ironwood gives you the Midwest’s highest unobstructed, 40-mile view. You don’t have to ski, though. At 26 stories or 1,782 feet above sea level, the Copper Peak Adventure Ride takes you to the same heights.
You get to enjoy an 800-foot chairlift ride, an 18-story elevator ride to the main observation platform, an 8-story walk to the top of the ski jump starting gate, and stunning views of the colorful landscape below.
Summit Peak Observation Tower
Porcupine Mountains State Park has two great scenic overlooks — one of which is the Summit Peak Observation Tower. At nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, the top of the 50-foot tower is the highest point in the park and offers a panoramic view of the wooded natural area and Lake Superior below.
Lake of the Clouds Overlook
The second overlook in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is the Lake of the Clouds Overlook. You can reach the fully accessible overlook via the Escarpment Trail and Big Carp River Trail. From there, the view of blue water surrounded by colorful trees is breathtaking.
Sugarloaf Mountain Observation Decks
Once you’re at the top, 470 feet above Lake Superior, you get a scenic view of the surrounding forests and their brilliant colors.
Grand Portal Point
Within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, you’ll find Grand Portal Point near Chapel Beach. It’s situated on the sandstone cliffs, which are capped with fall colors during autumn. You can only get to the point via North Country Trail, which runs along the Lake Superior shoreline.
Cut River Bridge Overlook
In Naubinway on the Lake Michigan shoreline of the Upper Peninsula, Cut River Bridge Overlook crosses the Cut River and offers a magnificent view of the deep gorge below.
You can take a set of stairs to get below the bridge for a different perspective. On either side of the bridge on US-2 are parking lots with restrooms.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
If you like hiking trails that lead into beautiful scenery, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is perfect for your next fall hiking trip in Michigan. There are several trailheads leading to the falls from various directions. One of them leads directly to the base of the waterfall where it cascades down over rocks and boulders, creating a stunning fall scene.
Northern Michigan’s Best Scenic Overlooks to Observe Fall Foliage
Foote Pond Scenic Overlook
Within the Huron-Manistee National Forests in Oscoda, the Foote Pond Scenic Overlook gives you a splendid view of Foote Pond from the sand bluffs above. A paved access road from the River Road National Scenic Byway leads to a parking area and barrier-free pathway to the wood deck.
Also off the River Road National Scenic Byway, the observation deck at the Lumberman’s Monument is one of the best places to see fall colors in Michigan. Along with beautiful views of the fall foliage and Au Sable River, you can explore the visitor center at the 14-foot monument.
Deadman’s Hill Overlook
About 15 miles west of Gaylord, Deadman’s Hill Overlook is just a short walk up a hill. At the top, you get to take in a fantastic view of the Jordan River Valley. While you’re here, you can walk a 3-mile loop trail, or take backpacking gear to trek the 18-mile Jordan River Pathway.
North Bar Lake Overlook
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has plenty of fall colors to see, especially on the 7-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Just south of the scenic drive is the North Bar Lake Overlook. You can get to the overlook via a trail that leads from the North Bar Lake Access parking lot.
Located in Arcadia, Inspiration Point off the M-22 color tour is considered one of the best places to see fall colors in Michigan. After you park at the Arcadia Scenic Turnout, you can climb 120 stairs to the top of the hill for an incredible view of the colorful trees and a Lake Michigan backdrop.
As you travel through the Tunnel of Trees, Cross Village is the first town you should check out. Cross Village is a quiet town overlooking Lake Michigan.
You’ll find an old town hall that houses a Heritage Museum, and a giant white cross perched high above the lake, providing you with a beautiful fall scene to enjoy.
Prettiest Places to See Fall Colors in West Michigan
Hart-Montague Bicycle Trail Park
The first linear state park in Michigan, the Hart-Montague Bicycle Trail Park is 22 miles of paved trail for biking or hiking. It winds through a few charming towns and hardwood forests that become a blaze of autumn color. Along the path are several picnic tables and scenic overlooks where you can stop to enjoy the fall scenery.
Mt. Baldhead Overlook
It’s not actually a mountain, but Mt. Baldhead Overlook in Saugatuck offers one of the most amazing views of the autumn leaves. You only have to climb 302 stairs to the top of the huge dune, where you can see the Kalamazoo River lined by colorful trees. There’s a 1-mile hiking trail loop too.
Warren Dunes State Park
Home to 3 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan and 6 miles of hiking trails, Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer features a forested dune formation. The dunes rise 260 feet above the lake, giving you lovely views of the surrounding area. Just the climb up the dunes is spectacular.
As the only natural history museum in Southwest Michigan, Kingman Museum in Battle Creek is one of the best places to see fall colors in Michigan. It overlooks the 72-acre Leila Arboretum, which has 2,500 marked trees and plants and tons of gardens and walkways.
Best Mid-Michigan Scenic Overlooks for Fall Colors
Chippewa Nature Center
In Midland, the Chippewa Nature Center offers 19 miles of trails that lead you through scenic woodlands and wetlands. Because of that, it’s an absolute must-see during the fall, especially from the observation tower. Be on the lookout for the arboretum, which has more than 100 species of native shrubs and trees.
At the 110-acre Dow Gardens — established in 1899 in Midland — you can lose track of time as you wander the paths among the captivating canopy of colors. The gardens feature architectural bridges and streams. Part of the gardens, Whiting Forest leads you 4 stories high and along the longest canopy walkway in the nation, which overlooks 54 acres.
Frankenmuth Aerial Park
Eager to make your fall exciting and thrilling, the Frankenmuth Aerial Park sends you flying through the colorful leaves on a zip line. You can take on multiple challenges on the aerial obstacle course, climbing and walking through the trees. Don’t worry, though. There’s plenty of time to pause and take in the scenery.
Fall Scenic Views in the Michigan Thumb
Port Crescent State Park
With 3 miles of Lake Huron shoreline, Port Crescent State Park in Port Austin is one of the best places to see fall colors in Michigan.
You can hike the trails along Saginaw Bay and through acres of forests. Then, you can stop at the top of a sand dune for a view of blue water and white sandy beach with a backdrop of vibrant colors.
At the tip of the Michigan Thumb in Port Austin, Turnip Rock is a fascinating land formation. The gigantic stone developed over the course of a millennium as waves crashed across its bow, wearing away the rock.
The tiny island is inhabited by little more than some trees, and the view is one of a kind.
Southeast Michigan’s Stunning Scenic Overlooks to Visit in Fall
If you’re in the Ann Arbor and Detroit area, the Dexter-Huron Metropark on Huron River Drive is a brilliant spot for leaf-peeping.
The 122 acres are full of the sounds of nature and peaceful sights, as well as dozens of activities. The Huron River winds right through the center of the rich woodlands.
GM Renaissance Center
Unique among the rest of the best places to see fall colors in Michigan is the GM Renaissance Center on the Detroit riverfront. After making your way to the top of the 73-story building, you’ll see the Detroit River and marvelous architecture throughout the city sprinkled with color.
Belle Isle Park
In the Detroit River near the opening of Lake St. Clair, Belle Isle Park is a 987-acre island. It has three lakes and 150 acres of woodlands — all of which make a wonderful explosion of color with the backdrop of a city skyline.
On top of that, the island is home to a range of activities, including a conservancy, aquarium, and zoo.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Fall Scenic Overlooks in Michigan
Is Michigan pretty in the fall?
When fall comes, the vivid colors in the trees make the season magical and spectacular to witness. It only lasts for a couple of months, and you don’t want to miss it.
Where can I see fall colors in Michigan?
As the colors change from north to south in Michigan, there are so many great places to see fall colors in Michigan. Beyond this list of fall scenic overlooks in Michigan, we also have a list of the best places to see fall colors in Michigan – perfect for creating your own fall road trip in Michigan.
What is fall like in Michigan?
Fall starts in September when the weather is just starting to cool. The average high across the state is 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
By October, the average temperature drops to around 59 degrees, and November gets even cooler at about 46 degrees. With winds picking up as well, we recommend that you wear layers while you observe the changing leaves.
Where is fall foliage in Michigan?
As the temperature drops across Michigan, the fall foliage spreads from the Upper Peninsula down through the Lower Peninsula. During peak color periods, you can see vibrant fall foliage almost everywhere.
Where is the best place to see fall colors?
No single place is the best place to see fall colors in Michigan. As you can see from our list, there are many fall scenic overlooks in Michigan with amazing views of the colorful trees.
Generally, you get a fantastic view anywhere that’s surrounded by elm trees, oak trees, maple trees, and quaking aspen trees. If you don’t want to visit just one place, consider taking one of these fall scenic drives.
What is the best time to see the fall colors in Michigan?
In the Upper Peninsula, the peak fall colors occur around mid to late September. The northern half of the Lower Peninsula experiences the fall colors peak around late to early October.
Between early and mid-October, the peak colors occur in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. You can track the color change on this fall foliage map.