Falling for Michigan: Five Ways to Enjoy the Fall Foliage

Another fall color season in Pure Michigan is about to begin! When the days begin to get shorter and the crisp fall air arrives, Michigan’s 19 million acres of woods turn to shades of red, gold and orange.

The new season offers new vacation experiences, and whether you take a long weekend, or a short day trip, there is no better place to see the dynamic fall foliage colors than along Michigan’s highways, trails and coastlines.

Here are five great ways to “fall” for Pure Michigan this year.  

Take a Fall Color Tour

From the Keweenaw Peninsula to the Sunrise Coast to Southeast Michigan, there is no shortage of beautiful places to take in the fall foliage.  Starting in the Upper Peninsula in Mid-September to Michigan’s Sunrise and Sunset coasts in Mid to late October, let our fall colors report guide you toward the best time to take a Pure Michigan fall vacation.   For a listing of fall color tours, visit http://www.michigan.org/fall-color-tours/ or sign up for the Fall Color Update newsletter.

Enjoying a beautiful Fall day. Photo Courtesy of Todd Reed.

Enjoying a beautiful Fall day. Photo Courtesy of Todd Reed.

By Land…or By Lake

During the summer, boat cruises take vacationers out onto Michigan’s lakes, but many of them offer color cruises or private charters for those wanting to enjoy the fall foliage from the nation’s longest freshwater coastline.  Check out cruises and charters near you here.

Want to get in some outdoor recreation?  Bundle up and take a fall paddling trip on one of Michigan’s lakes or rivers, enjoying the peace and quiet of a fall morning or afternoon.  Michigan is blessed with more paddling opportunities than any other state.  {Related:  Michigan’s Seven Best Paddling Trips}

Peshekee River in Marquette. Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Peshekee River in Marquette. Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Blaze Your Own Trail

Michigan has hundreds of miles of trails and pathways, and nothing beats a biking or hiking trip than one with a colorful backdrop of fall foliage and the crunch of fallen leaves beneath your feet.

Looking for something unique? Saddle up and enjoy the beauty of fall with a horse ride.  Michigan has several horse-friendly trails and stables perfect for an afternoon adventure.

Michigan Trails Week  is September 19 – 26, which is a weeklong celebration of Michigan’s extensive trail network.  Find your favorite trail.

Trails_Info_435083_7_Trail week infographic

A View from the Top

We are often times looking up to see the fall colors, but you can get a bird’s eye view of Michigan’s thousands of trees with orange, red and yellow leaves.

Take a scenic chairlift ride at participating ski resorts throughout the state such as Boyne Mountain Resort, Mount Bohemia,  Mont Ripley and Crystal Mountain, among others.

Feeling more adventurous?  Many of Michigan’s hot air balloon companies have fall schedules that will give you the view of a lifetime.

Mt. Bohemia Lift Rides. Photo Courtesy of Katy Kass.

Mt. Bohemia Lift Rides. Photo Courtesy of Katy Kass.

Fall “Fore” Michigan Golf

Michigan is consistently named among the best places in the country to play golf with more than 650 public courses throughout the state.   The fall season is a great time to enjoy a round of golf and the fall colors with many courses offering packages and deals.

Where is your favorite place in Pure Michigan for fall colors?


One Dune – Three Great Activities!

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are a breathtaking sight in West Michigan. Check out three activities you will want to put on your summer bucket list, courtesy of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

The first time you get to the Silver Lake area, you might think you’re in another country or on another planet with nothing but vistas of dunes and water as far as the eye can see. But when the moment of realization occurs and you discover that you are actually in West Michigan, you wonder why you haven’t been here sooner.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

Welcome to the Silver Lake State Park. Home to rolling dunes and dense hardwood forests, the Silver Lake State Park and its 2,936 acres of rolling terrain is the only State Park east of the Mississippi River that allows the use of motorized vehicles on dunes. This unique attribute is one of the major reasons why so many make the return trip to the dunes every year.

The physical dune area is separated into three distinct areas. The southern most section of the dunes, or the lower third, is reserved for Mac Wood’s Dune Rides and their 7-mile guided dune trips aboard one of their many open air dune cruisers. In 1930, Mac Wood’s began with a 4-passenger Model A Ford that carried visitors around the dunes. Today, they now have a fleet of 4-wheel drive dune cruisers with modified aircraft tires for the perfect dune experience. If you are interested in some of the origins of Mac Wood’s you can see their original vehicle at their onsite museum.

All together, this 40-minute trip is a great option for those looking to experience a more mild taste of the dunes as opposed to the fast-paced ORV experience to the north.

Making your way north to the central part of the dunes, you will find an area for pedestrians only which flanks Silver Lake to the east and runs to Lake Michigan on the west. Here you will see many sand boarders, hikers and nature enthusiasts taking in the natural beauty of the dunes. There are no ORVs allowed on this portion of the dunes. Its appeal lies in the peaceful views of the rolling dunes that change with the winds. As the terrain changes year to year, people return to hike and explore the new sand formations that make up the dunes.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

The outdoor recreational vehicle (ORV) dune section is located on the northern third of the dunes where people can bring their own vehicles and ride the dunes (ORV permits required), or they may rent from any one of the great vendors in the Silver Lake Area. Here you will experience the true culture that is associated with “duning.”

The ORV section of the dunes is fast paced, where vehicles are allowed to freely roam across the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Here you will find a little bit of everything in terms of vehicles. From high-end dune buggies, fully equipped in the latest and greatest gear and technology associated with off roading, to the fresh-off-the-lot Jeep Sierra with the top down and kids laughing.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

The ORV section is also home to a host of four wheelers and motor bikes, rooster tailing sand as they zip across the open terrain.

No matter what part of the dunes you are drawn to, each section has a common bond in that everyone is smiling, laughing and enjoy time with friends and family as they are unplugged from work and the everyday grind enjoying all 2,936 acres of fun in the sun that is the Silver Lake State Park.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.


- Park Started in 1919 with the donation of 25 acres of land for park purposes by Carrie E. Mears, in 1964 the official masterplan was dedicated with 2936 acres

- 450 acres – private off road dune riding area – only dunes east of THE MISSISSIPPI to allow this.

- There are three distinct areas – 1. hiking and dune climbing, 2. orv area, 3. tour area for mac wood’s dune rides

- The dunes open for the summer on April 1 and the last day the park is open is on October 31.

- The dunes are home to fulgurites or commonly known as petrified lighting.  These natural forms are created during lighting strikes on the dunes and vary in size and shape and can be as large as a small shrub.

- The central section of the dunes, or the non-motorized section, plays host to many sand boarding enthusiasts throughout the season.

 What is your  favorite activity to partake on this unique Pure Michigan attraction?

Pure Michigan July 2013 Fan Photos

August is here and summer is still in full swing here in Pure Michigan! Since everyone has been out enjoying the sun and warmer weather, we wanted to take a look back at some of our favorite photos from July. Below is a gallery of just some of the stunning photos that our Pure Michigan Facebook community shared with us last month. See more on the Pure Michigan Flickr page.

Which photo from July is your favorite? If you have a photo to share with us, visit the Pure Michigan Facebook page and post it there.