If you are on the hunt for the best fall colors in Michigan, then you will want to reference this guide — which includes an interactive Michigan fall color map as well as the most recent information about the 2023 fall colors in Michigan.
For the vast majority of Michigan residents, the highlight of the autumn season is when the leaves begin to change. Leaf peeping is a favorite thing to do in Michigan in the fall, motivating local residents to seek out the peak colors throughout the state and encouraging out-of-state visitors to experience this magical, natural transformation that occurs each year.
However, as any seasoned Michigander knows, the fall colors can be difficult to predict. A variety of factors will influence when the leaves change each year, the moment they will hit their peak, and the vibrancy of their colors.
What You Need to Know About the 2023 Fall Colors in Michigan
The 2023 fall color season in Michigan is predicted to be beautiful, as usual. However, there are some weather-related factors that may play a role in when the fall colors peak and how vibrant they are this year.
Michigan has enjoyed a relatively warm, and recently wet, summer in 2023, which means that the arrival of the fall colors is right around the corner. Fortunately, the September weather so far has been consistent with warm days and cooler nights, which should help bring out the bright oranges, vibrant reds, and golden yellow hues that people hope for each year.
Initially, many color-changing experts thought that the fall colors would arrive a tad earlier than normal, but weather conditions in the late weeks of August and early September appear to have delayed the arrival.
The Upper Peninsula is predicted to see peak colors in late September and early October, while the southernmost corners of the state are not likely to see colors peak until mid-October.
One thing to keep in mind as you are planning your 2023 fall color tour in Michigan — the leaves begin to change color in the northern regions first, and then move south. In addition, the most color is going to be seen inland and then move to the shorelines. The coasts of Michigan will often peak later than their inland counterparts nearby.
Leaf Peeping in the Western Upper Peninsula
Tucked away in the farthest, northernmost region of the state, the Western Upper Peninsula may have the state’s harshest, longest winters — but it also boasts the most vibrant display of fall colors each year. A voyage to this area is well worth the effort, particularly for those who are looking to enjoy those spectacular colors as soon as possible.
In a typical year, the fall colors in the Western Upper Peninsula will peak between the last week of September and the first two weeks of October. This year, the fall colors in the western Upper Peninsula are predicted to peak the last weekend of September.
While a shoreline drive along Lake Superior is sure to thrill the eyes, many people believe that the Porcupine Mountains in the western Upper Peninsula are the best place to experience the fall colors in this portion of the state. The Lake of the Clouds Overlook is a favorite among shutterbugs who want to get that quintessential fall photo that showcases the natural beauty of Michigan.
Fall Color Prediction in the Eastern Upper Peninsula
On the eastern side of the Upper Peninsula, the beautiful colors of fall also arrive earlier than they do throughout the rest of the state.
Generally speaking, the western Upper Peninsula will peak first, with the eastern region following shortly after. Peak colors can occur anytime between the last week of September and the second week of October, and in 2023, most experts agree that peak color will take place in early October.
The eastern Upper Peninsula has long been considered one of the best places to enjoy spectacular vistas with an array of fall colors. It is known for its vibrant crimson leaves, its bright orange hues, and spectacular pops of gold.
To see some of these vibrant fall colors set against the backdrop of one of the state’s most incredible natural wonders, head straight to Tahquamenon Falls. Whether you visit the Upper Falls or the Lower Falls during the fall color peak, you are sure to be impressed with the views that showcase the rushing blue waters against a cacophony of fall colors.
The Best Time to See the Fall Colors in Northern Michigan
Northern Michigan is considered by many to be one of the best places in the state to see the fall colors and experience the grandeur of this fleeting season. The fall colors are only just beginning to pop, with very few leaves having turned their autumnal shades of sienna, gold, or burgundy.
The peak colors are predicted to arrive in the middle of October for most of Northern Michigan.
The Tunnel of Trees is easily the most iconic place during the fall in Northern Michigan. This is one of the only places in the state where you can surround yourself with colored leaves. The Tunnel of Trees is a 22-mile drive along M-119, and most of it is covered by a canopy of trees that turn a variety of colors in the fall. As you wind down this country road in Northern Michigan, you also will be treated to incredible views of Lake Michigan.
Peak Times for Fall Colors in West Michigan
The fall colors typically arrive a little bit later around the shorelines of West Michigan, but if you are up for a late-season adventure, it’s one of the most beautiful places to witness this annual transition.
The reason that the fall colors are delayed in this part of the state is that the leaves begin to change inland first and then stretch out to the lakeshores.
In 2023, the fall colors in West Michigan are expected to peak during the middle of October.
A favorite place for fall colors in West Michigan is Holland, the Dutch-inspired community located near Lake Michigan. Not only will you enjoy this charming historical town during the slower fall season, but you also can go to Holland State Park to see the fall colors for yourself. While you are there, consider taking the climb to the summit of Mt. Pisgah to see 360-degree views of the fall colors as well as the blue waters of Lake Macatawa below.
Southwest Michigan Fall Color Viewing Locations
Fall is one of those seasons that everyone looks forward to, but that always passes by way too quickly. Fortunately, for those who feel that they missed the peak colors in Northern Michigan and along the state’s shores, there is always one last opportunity to embark on a fall color excursion in Southwest Michigan.
Nestled in the southernmost and westernmost corner of the state, this region of the state receives its fall colors last. In 2023, the colors on the trees will peak mid-October.
This allows you plenty of time to head to the most popular towns in Southwest Michigan, such as New Buffalo and South Haven, where you can enjoy not only the fall colors but also their pristine lakefront views.
Many of the small towns in Southwest Michigan offer a relaxing atmosphere with charming accommodations, quaint downtown areas, and plenty of spectacular vistas.
When to See Fall Colors in Mid-Michigan
Many people want to see the fall colors of Michigan juxtaposed with the crashing waves of the Great Lakes. While those waterfront views framed by a cacophony of colored leaves are nothing short of breathtaking, some of the most spectacular fall color displays can be found in the heart of the state.
In Mid-Michigan, the vibrant colors arrive first, before they travel out to the shorelines. This year, October is sure to be one of the best times to drive north along US-127 and see the trees for yourself.
One of the best communities to visit in Mid-Michigan to experience the fall colors is Frankenmuth. Located between Flint and Saginaw, this Bavarian town features plenty of fall color displays as well as a plethora of harvest activities. Naturally, this town celebrates Oktoberfest in a big way, and you can also begin your Christmas shopping a bit early at Bronner’s — the World’s Largest Christmas Store.
Watch the Leaves Change in Southcentral Michigan
Fall arrives in earnest in Southcentral Michigan by the middle of October, when the temperatures begin to drop and the leaves start to change. In 2023, the peak fall colors in Southcentral Michigan are expected to be in mid-to-late October, allowing you to glimpse nature in all its glory before the winter arrives soon after.
As the colors begin to arrive in Southcentral Michigan, the weather is often perfect for outdoor adventures. Jackson is one of the best places to go in this area if you are looking to explore and experience this state while also soaking up its incredible fall views.
For a unique excursion, consider renting a kayak or a canoe and paddling down the Grand River. On the calm waters of this river, you will smoothly glide past some of the most magnificent displays of fall color in the state.
Best Time for Fall Colors in Southeast Michigan
Like its counterpart on the western side of the state, Southeast Michigan is one of the last places where the fall colors peak. While colors will begin to start showing up in the late weeks of August and early September, most of the leaves are slow to showcase their full potential.
In 2023, the peak fall colors in Southeast Michigan are expected in mid-to-late October.
While Southeast Michigan is known for its urban skylines and suburban amenities, there are still fun places where you can go to see the fall colors light up the landscape. The cider mills and pumpkin patches in Southeast Michigan are some of the most popular fall attractions, and they all offer incredible views of the colored leaves.
You might consider stopping by Plymouth Orchards in Plymouth for a cup of cider and a warm donut sprinkled with cinnamon, or maybe you want to go to the infamous Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills. No matter which cider mill you choose, you won’t be disappointed with the flavors, the activities, or the views.
FAQs About Fall Colors in Michigan
When do the fall colors peak in Michigan?
The exact time of the fall color peak will vary from year to year in Michigan, depending on a variety of factors, such as the amount of rainfall that occurred throughout the spring and summer and the temperatures during the early weeks of fall. In addition, fall colors peak in different areas of Michigan at different times. Generally speaking, fall colors will peak first in the Upper Peninsula, and later in the season the further south you go in the state.
How long is the peak season for fall colors in Michigan?
The first signs of fall colors typically arrive in the Upper Peninsula in the middle of September, with colors sometimes peaking there by early or mid-October. In the lower regions of the state, the fall colors sometimes peak in late October or early November, so you can enjoy fall color tours in Michigan throughout September, October, and even into November.
Where are the fall colors peaking in Michigan right now?
Given the fact that the peak of the fall colors is highly dependent on the weather, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact place where fall colors are peaking in Michigan. However, this interactive map from SmokyMountains.com can provide you with a glimpse of where the fall colors are beginning to arrive and peak in Michigan.
Interactive 2023 Michigan Fall Color Map
Use the interactive fall color map for 2023 to find when and where peak color season is happening across the Great Lakes State!