Michigan Fall Colors 2023: 10 Delightful Ways to Make the Most of Fall in Michigan, Plus Peak Color Predictions

10 Exciting Ways to Experience Fall Colors in Michigan

Best Things to Do in the Fall in Michigan

Michigan is filled with beautiful scenic drives perfect for fall leaf-peeping.

And we all know that Michigan fall colors make the perfect backdrop for the fall activities the state loves so much.

If you want to immerse yourself in the fall colors this year – and go beyond the scenic drive – here are a few ideas that will add a little adventure to your autumn.

When Will Michigan Fall Colors Peak?

Fall colors predictions for MICHIGAN

UPDATED FOR 2023! This 2023 map is here!

Before you head out, you need to know when the Michigan fall colors will be prime. We suggest using the nationwide fall color prediction map to help with timing your fall color adventures.

The interactive prediction tool forecasts that parts of the Upper Peninsula will start to see a bit of color starting the week of September 4, 2023 and that most of Michigan will have peak fall colors around October 9, 2023.

100% of the Michigan fall colors will be past peak color by the week of October 23, 2023. Sorry, November!

Use the slider to change prediction date
Michigan Fall Colors Prediction Map 2023

Places & Ways to Enjoy the Fall Colors in Michigan

Thrilling Things to Do in the Fall in Michigan

Move over, regular fall color tour, these are the ideas that will get you out of the car and into the action.

Take a look at this map to help you decide and then hit the road for your Michigan fall adventure!

Map of Delightful Things to Do in the Fall in Michigan

1 – Saddle Up and See the Fall Colors on Horseback

Swap the car for a horse and you’re ready to off-road your way through the color-changing forests of Michigan.

Even novice riders can take in the beauty of fall on a guided trail ride.

Many places offer one-hour rides and will coach you through what you need to know for a successful horseback experience.

Where to Find West Michigan Fall Colors Trail Rides:
Karin’s Horse Connection in Caledonia, MI
Healey’s Outback Ranch in Stanwood, MI
Stony Lake Stables in New Era, MI

Things to Do in the Fall in Michigan color tour horse trail ride
Take a Trail Ride and See Fall Colors in a New Way

2 – Ride a Chairlift


On Saturdays and Sundays in October, you can ride the chairlift at Crystal Mountain to panoramic views of three counties during the peak of the fall color season.

Fall chairlift rides are $15 per person.

Enjoy the views at the top for as long as you’d like!

Tickets are available for purchase online.

» Details

Ages 3+ can ride the fall foliage chairlift at Crystal Mountain

3 – Double Fun: Fall Colors Train & Riverboat Tour Combo to Tahquamenon Falls

7195 Co Rd 381, Soo Junction, MI 49000

Get yourself to the Upper Penisula for this double delight.

The Toonerville Train and Trolley is special in the summer, but it’s even more divine come fall.

Because the colors in the U.P. change sooner than in Michigan’s lower peninsula, the tour dates only go into early October. This is one trip you’ll want to book ASAP.

When you go, be sure to plan to be gone for the whole day. This wilderness tour is 6.5 hours long.

You’ll start with a 35-minute narrow-gauge train ride, followed by a 2-hour riverboat cruise to Tahquamenon Falls, where you’ll dock for 75 minutes. Take this time to make the short hike to the Upper Tahquamenon Falls overlook.

After the stopover, rejoin the group and ride the riverboat and train as they retrace their route back to Soo Junction, MI.
You may see wildlife like bears and deer along the way.

» Details

Fall Colors Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tours & the Famous Toonerville Trolley
Plan ahead – fall colors turn early in the Upper Peninsula
If you want to book this fun Michigan trip, aim for September

4 – Soar Over the Colors on a Fall Airplane Tour

2323 Airport Road, Manistee, MI 49660

Orchard Beach Aviation in Manistee will take you high in the sky for super Michigan fall colors views – starting at just $40 per person.

Manistee is home to the far-reaching (over a half-million acres) Manistee National Forest, as well as miles and miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline.

This sweet pairing makes for vivid lake views punctuated by endless acres of Michigan fall colors.

When seen from a bird’s point of view, it’s unforgettable.

» Details

Taking off in a small plane in Manistee, MI
Fall colors over Manistee, MI
orchard beach aviation manistee fall color flights
Photo: Orchard Beach Aviation

5 – ATV Your Way Through a Colorful Canopy

4271 S Straits Hwy, Indian River, MI 49749

Big Bear Adventures in Indian River, Michigan is opening up their off-road ATV tours for fall colors this year and we think that’s a good thing.

Up to 12 riders can be accommodated for each fall color tour using their complete fleet of vehicles.

They have (1) 4-seat ATV, two side-by-side ATVs (2 seats), and two 2-up quad riders (2 seats).

Passengers must be 12 years or older to ride on a 2-up vehicle and 6 years or older to ride in a side-by-side.

» Details

Off Road Adventures in Northern Michigan
Off Road Adventures in Northern Michigan
Off Road Adventures in Northern Michigan
Big Bear Adventures in Indian River, Michigan

6 – Hike to the Empire Bluff Boardwalk

Empire Bluff Trail, Honor MI 49640

The boardwalk at Empire Bluff Trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a sight to behold at any time of year.
But in autumn with the Michigan fall colors? It’s otherworldly.

The 1.5-mile round trip trail starts by winding up and over forested hills and valleys until you reach the top of the dune.

It’s at this point you’ll find a lengthy boardwalk with Michigan sand dune-soaked views stretching for miles in all directions.

Plan to arrive for sunset and the color dial turns up in intensity even more.

» Details

Empire Bluff Trail at Sunset in the Fall
Empire Bluff Trail at Sunset in the Fall

7 – Float Down a River

9590 M-37, Wellston, MI 49689

If you’re prone to tipping, floating a river in the fall might not be at the top of your idea list – especially if I told you there’s a river in lower Michigan with a little whitewater.

Well, there is such a river – the Pine River – and I have a solution for you: fall river rafting.

The Pine River has a section of Class I rapids that will definitely test your canoeing abilities but are easily handled by a river raft.

If you put in at Peterson and get out at Low Bridge, you’ll experience the rapids. It’s about a 3.5 hour float time for that trip.

» River Map

Work with the good people at Pine River Paddlesports to hook you up with equipment, drop-off, and pick up.

» Details

Pine River in Michigan
Photo: Pine River Paddlesports
pine river rafting
Class 1 Rapids on the Pine River in Michigan

8 – Wind Your Way Along the Au Sable River Road National Scenic Byway

5401 Monument Road, Oscoda, MI 48750 

Stand over the high banks of the Au Sable River in the fall and you’re in for a feast of Michigan fall colors.

Pack water bottles and granola bars, because if you have time and the energy, you’ll find yourself hiking many of the trails along the 22-mile National Scenic Byway in the Huron National Forest.

Be sure to save time to visit Lumberman’s Monument Visitor Center and Grounds, too.

And, if you need a place to stay, we recommend the Hale Beach House AirBnb (get a pontoon boat!) or the nearby PRIVATE ISLAND!

» Details

Sand Dunes and Cliffs along the Au Sable River Road National Scenic Byway
Au Sable River Road National Scenic Byway (2)
Hiking along the Highbanks Hiking Trail
This Hale, MI vacation rental is great for a fall getaway near the Au Sable River
Hale Michigan Private Island Airbnb VRBO
You can also stay on a private island!

9 – Zip Line Your Way Through Fall Colors

1 Boyne Mountain Road, Boyne Falls, MI 49713

Running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October, the Zipline Adventure at Boyne Mountain Adventure Center is another adrenaline-pumping way to experience the Michigan fall colors.

This 2.5-hour tour takes you from the top of the mountain down the hill and through the canopy.
If you’re looking for fresh air, speed, and big views, this is a must-do.

Zipline Adventure Tours are available through fall 2021.

The full rate is $75, but you can save $ if you book a tour online in advance.

You can also make Boyne your homebase with a variety of area and onsite lodging options available.

» Zipline Details

» Michigan Zipline Places

Photos courtesy of Boyne Mountain Resort
Photo: Boyne Mountain Resort
Kids love the year-round outdoor pool options at Boyne

10 – Take a Horse-Drawn Elk Viewing Carriage Ride Through the Colors 

27800 M-32, Hillman, MI 49746

Most people don’t realize that, in addition to their popular golf course, Thunder Bay Resort, is also home to a 160-acre Elk preserve in Northeast Lower Michigan.

Thunder Bay offers Elk Viewing Carriage Rides (and sleigh rides) most any time of the year, but they are extra special in the fall when the colors are most vibrant.

You can even book a package getaway that includes a fall color Elk Viewing Carriage Ride, Gourmet Dinner & Wine Tasting if you’re so inclined!

» More Details

michigan color tour carriage ride elk viewing thunder bay trip advisor photo
Elk Viewing Carriage Ride at Thunder Bay Resort in Michigan
Photos: Tripadvisor

Leave a comment and let us know – we’re always on the hunt for more fall fun!

More Michigan Fun

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1 thought on “Michigan Fall Colors 2023: 10 Delightful Ways to Make the Most of Fall in Michigan, Plus Peak Color Predictions”

  1. Recommendation please for a Sunday day trip, I live in Lansing. Within 3 hours will stay 3 hours and head home. Hidden treasure would be great…water beach hike? Is that asking to much?

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