Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to some of the state’s most photographed overlooks. Visiting by chairlift, ski jump elevator, foot or car, find out if each of their spots lives up to their iconic status and learn how you can find these Northern Michigan Fall color views for yourself. 

Porcupine Mountains: Lake of the Clouds (and Beyond!)

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, and the surrounding area, offer a perfect trifecta of overlooks you can drive to, reach by ski lift and hike along. Start at Lake of the Clouds, one of the most photographed spots in the Upper Peninsula—and no wonder. Dramatic rock outcroppings frame a deep blue, oval lake. The Lake of the Clouds Scenic Area has restrooms, picnic tables and an accessible viewing area just a few hundred feet from the parking lot. If you want to explore more, a variety of hiking trails through old-growth forest let you change up the view. Want a big lake in your landscape? Take the $10 (per person) chairlift ride to the top of the park’s ski hill at Porcupine Mountains Ski Area. For a more intimate fall color experience, hike the trails at the nearby Presque Isle Campground to three gorgeous waterfalls.

More information on how to visit the Porcupine Mountains or how to ski the Porcupine Mountains.

Photo by Kim Schneider

Related Read: Searching for more Up North hikes and activities? Visit our Northern Michigan Outdoors page!

Copper Peak, Ironwood

They call it an adventure ride, going to the top of the world’s largest artificial ski jump tower (once used for ski flying)— and it certainly is. It starts with an 800-foot chairlift ride, then an elevator takes you 18 stories up from a mountain you’re already on top of. The views from this overlook are incredible. But if you’re feeling gutsy, walk up another eight flights of stairs to the tippy top where you can see three states, Canada and a stunning forest panorama on a clear day (and you get bragging rights when back inside the elevator). You should know the chairlift sways with the wind, and you may (just saying) find yourself only able to scoot up the stairs (which also sway) on your hands and knees. Anyone can get a pretty safe view though, from where the elevator lets you out, or even by just staying at the bottom, where you can explore the hilltop and pose for photos. Watch a video of the adventure ride at copperpeak.net.

Copper Peak in Ironwood

Photo by Kim Schneider

Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise

You don’t even have to climb to see memorable photo vantage points at the Upper Falls of Tahquamenon. There’s a paved, flat trail that goes a quarter mile from the parking area to overlooks high above the falls; you only have to climb (93 steps) if you opt to go down to the brink viewing platform for a closer look or another 112 steps to the river’s edge. Do know that whoever mapped out the trails at this popular state park must have had your fall color framing in mind. Pick from multiple views along various wooden platforms. Several frame the root-beer-colored falls surrounded by autumn foliage that perfectly set them off. Bonus: After seeing the falls, enjoy another perfect pairing: a fruit-of-the-forest pie or a U.P. pasty and a microbrew at on-site Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub.

Photo by Kim Schneider

Brockway Mountain Drive in Copper Harbor

A pinnacle overlook and drive are waiting at what you might call the pinnacle of the state. Brockway Mountain Drive (the highest scenic drive between the Rockies and Alleghenies, located between US-26 and US-41) winds slowly up a tree-covered mountain, past eagles riding on the thermals. Multiple pull-offs let you catch the ever-changing patterns of trees, Lake Superior and a multitude of streams until you reach the reward. From your perch at the peak, Superior stretches out 720 feet below, and while you won’t be alone during color season, there’s plenty of room to spread out and take in the 360-degree panorama.

Photo by Kim Schneider

Photo by Kim Schneider

Kim Schneider is a long-time travel writer specializing in Michigan adventures, food and wine. The Midwest Travel Journalist Association has named her Mark Twain Travel Writer of the Year, and she’s the author of “100 Things to Do in Traverse City Before You Die.”

Photo(s) by Kim Schneider