2021 Northern Michigan Fall Color Map

We’re partnering with Tom O’Hare, chief meteorologist at 9&10 News, to bring you the latest Northern Michigan fall color map every week throughout September and October. You’ll know exactly where to find the best fall foliage and when to plan your vacation. You can also view 2018, 2019 and 2020 peak fall color dates below.

While you’re on the road, check out these 10 best Michigan color tour views and, of course, the Tunnel of Trees is a must.

Changing leaves in Northern Michigan

October 2021 Northern Michigan Fall Color Updates

Here’s your latest Fall Color Forecast for Northern Michigan.

 

October 14 to 22, 2021 | Peak Color is Here in Northern Michigan!

This weekend is looking incredible for just about anywhere you go. The mild weather is holding things together and I expect the great conditions to last through much of next week. The weekend of the 23rd will feature Peak conditions along the L.P. lakeshores. This means you have plenty of time to go for a Fall Color Tour!

Fall color map starting October 14

Peak Color Holding On in the Upper Peninsula

Across the U.P., many areas Peaked this week but the color is still holding on. Eastern areas will hold Peak through the weekend and into next week. The Western U.P. is at Peak or Past but don’t let it stop you from checking out the color. Head along M-28 for a nice long drive to soak in the change of season.

Inland Lower Peninsula is at Peak Right Now

Inland areas of the L.P. are at Peak right now! Go Check them OUT! Yes, there are pockets of Past Peak but that’s not a problem. The color is just explosive! You can go from 50% color to Past Peak in just a few miles. For a nice long drive take US-131 to Petoskey, head over I-75 and then drove South and get off on US-127, and head West back to US-131. You have so many options, so get out and enjoy this colorful time of year!

The Tunnel of Trees will Peak After October 23

The Tunnel of Trees (M-119) is NOT at Peak and probably won’t until the 23rd or later. There are a lot of yellows and some oranges but still plenty of green. The reason is the warmth. Between the warm lake and mild weather we’ve been having, Peak is at least a week away. This goes for most forests as well. While you’re looking at Peak Color from your car, take a walk in the woods and you’ll see a cornucopia of color!

Related Read: On the hunt for the perfect Fall color roadrtip? Searching for Autumn activities? Visit our Northern Michigan Fall page!

October 8, 2021 | Peak Color is already here for some areas!

This has been a very interesting year with strong pockets of red and orange in a sea of green. But last week’s chilly nights made notable changes for specific areas around Cadillac, Clare and Grayling. While Cadillac may not be peaking right now, there are large areas within 10 miles of the downtown area that are. That is why we are showing those areas as Peak, as it will come sooner than later.

October Fall Color Map

Related Read: Start planning your color tour when you visit our Northern Michigan Fall page!

I flew into Traverse City on the 4th and what was full of green a week ago is now has a beautiful mix of yellow, green, orange, and red. Here is a pic from between Chums Corner and Interlochen. There is no doubt Peak color is out there and if not this weekend, likely to come next week and next weekend (15th-16th)!

Fall color in Northern Michigan.

Fall Color in the Upper Peninsula

The Eastern U.P., and in fact most of the U.P., is either at Peak or will Peak before the 15th. There are still some green pockets but there’s more color than green at this point. Lakeshore areas are a little behind but not by much.

If you haven’t planned your color trip, now is the time to do it. Head to the U.P. this week or next. You can do a general tour of the L.P. to see pockets of incredible color but Peak for much of the area arrives next weekend or the following weekend. (23rd-24th)

Where to Find Fall Colors

If you’re missing a good color drive, don’t worry, you can always take a walk (or drive) in the woods. Peak color on the outside of the forest comes first. Good color inside the forest will last another week or two, depending on the weather. The Tunnel of Trees is a great example allowing you to view Peak Color longer since you can see the outside and inside the forest. Peak along M-119 is at least another week away so don’t worry.

As we’ve been talking about, lack of sun and cold temps are two of the key things needed for color change. So far, the cold has been limited but the sun has been coming and going a lot. Skies recently have been on the cloudy side and will hold that way for a while.

Map of fall colors in Northern Michigan.
October 1, 2021

Our late-summer weather continues and it is impacting the fall color. Over the past week, not much has changed for lower elevations, especially near the big lakes.

Inland areas have a little more color but that is generally focused over the typically colder spots. There are distinctive pockets of color around Cadillac, Clare, Grayling and Mio. The same can be said for our Eastern U.P. counties where pockets of color are around but the overall average change is still around 30% to 40%.

Our forecast through next week doesn’t show a major change. I expect additional areas of the Lower Peninsula and Eastern U.P. to see a bit more pop but most remaining at under 50% change. Of course, there will be exceptions with isolated spots peaking this weekend. I can attest there are a few areas west of Cadillac already looking incredible with brilliant reds and oranges, but finding views like this is difficult. Going through next week, you will notice more color along your drive to work or school.

Our peak color forecast hasn’t changed. If you are trying to plan a good weekend to check out the color locally, the Eastern U.P. is expected to peak during the first two weeks of October. Inland areas of the Lower Peninsula will likely peak before October 20. Those along the lakeshores will be a bit later, with peak color coming the last two weeks of October.

September 24, 2021

Here’s your latest Fall Color Forecast Northern Michigan. September had a sunny and warm spell, so color remains limited. At this point, Most of the region is below 30% changed. That means over the next week, you should expect a bit more color popping up!

The recent cloudy and cool weather will accelerate the change resulting in a lot more color next weekend (October 2-3rd) Right now, our forecast only has 50% change over parts of Western Lower, focused on the higher elevations. If you want color now, then jump in the car and head towards the Western U.P. The leaves are really showing their yellows, reds, and oranges. There are notable areas of Near Peak conditions with a few areas likely to Peak early next week.

Every day the region deals with lots of clouds and cool temperatures, the color pops a bit more just a day or two later. I do expect more areas to reach at least 30% this weekend as the recent cold air impacts the leaves. Next week, features drier skies and seasonable temperatures, all leading to a normal week of color change.

If you are trying to plan a good weekend to check out the color locally, the Eastern U.P. is expected to Peak during the 1st two weeks of October. Inland areas of the Lower Peninsula will likely Peak before October 20th. Those along the lakeshores will be a bit later, with Peak color coming the last two weeks of October. Of course, predicting peak color is not an exact science, so we’ll keep you updated right here on how things are coming along.

Map of fall colors in Northern Michigan.
September 17, 2021

It’s that time of year again, Northern Michigan. If you’ve been out and about odds are you’ve noticed a bit of color popping up. The region is still predominately green but there are splashes of red and yellow around. Traditional early trees have already turned red and some have dropped their leaves. You’ll find small pockets of yellow or red over the higher elevations around Cadillac, Grayling, and Gaylord. If I were to give it a range, it would be approximately a 10 to 20 percent change. In the Western and Central U.P., things are a bit more advanced but not by much. Higher elevations are around 20 to 35 percent changed with larger areas of color. This region is about 2 weeks away from peak color!

Fall color map from 9&10 News.

Here is our Fall Color Forecast through the end of next week. The dry spring did help to get some areas changing early but it looks like the current weather is now in control. With the next 5 to 6 days’ temperatures remaining above average and limited clouds, I don’t see much of a difference between now and then.

Key things for changing leaves are limited sun and cool, if not cold temperatures. Moisture is also part of the equation and helps deliver vibrant color. We’ll have to wait and see how the current weather and the wet weather from July impacts the vibrancy of the leaves.

Related Read: Guide to Michigan’s Iconic Tunnel of Trees on M-119.

Look Back: 2019 & 2020 Michigan Fall Color Maps

Northern Michigan Fall Color Update 2020

October 22, 2020

Have you been out to look at the colors yet? If not, better get out there this week! There is still color around but leaves are falling quickly for inland areas. The best viewing for those who are inland is taking a walk in the woods. The leaves on the outside are past peak but inside the forest, they are peaking!

The Tunnel of Trees is peaking and should last through the coming weekend! That’s about the same story for areas near the lakes. The colors are really popping around the Grand Traverse region and down along the lakeshore. The yellows and oranges are are just spectacular! Soak up the color while it’s here because it won’t last much longer. There are areas lakeside where leaves are dropping fast, so I recommend trips along M-22 and US-31, especially south of Benzonia. –Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist Tom O’Hare

Read Next: The Ultimate M-22 Road Trip

October 15, 2020

Peak color is here, Northern Michigan! The leaves are just exploding with color all across the Lower Peninsula. Even though the U.P. is past peak don’t let that stop you from checking out the color. It’s still beautiful all over the area.

The Tunnel of Trees is quickly approaching peak and should be there this weekend lasting through much of next week. It’s the same story for lakeside areas that were just at 50%.

Bright yellows, oranges and radiant reds are found around every corner. Take a drive from Cadillac to Traverse City and you get everything. The High Rollway view west of Baxter Bridge overlooking the Manistee River is just spectacular. I highly recommend the trip! Just like the U.P., areas of the L.P. have past peak conditions in spots. Don’t worry about it—the color is still there, just not as bright. Talk a walk in the woods and you’ll see trees still approaching peak! –Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist Tom O’Hare

October 8, 2020

Time to make those fall color tours happen! The best color around the state remains in the U.P. in the central and western areas, especially around the Porcupine Mountains where peak and past peak color is showing.

For Northern Michigan, there is a huge range. Our Color Map represents what we expect through October 12 as leaves will change a lot between now and then. Recent reports have tons of color over the eastern U.P. with much of Luce, Mackinac and Chippewa counties at peak conditions. A good tour would be along the Lake Superior shoreline to Paradise and back toward St. Ignace.

For the Lower Peninsula, inland locations are at least 50% changed with the highest elevations at near peak to peak conditions. Pictures sent into the Doppler 9&10 Weather Team by Dianne Marie Broeker feature incredible reds, oranges and yellows in the Jordan Valley. The color is really popping along M-115 from Thompsonville all the way down to Clare. I recommend trips along US-131, I-75, Old-27, M-33, M-115 and M-55. There are still areas with green in this region and all that means is an extended period of color this month.

Those toward the lakeshore have some color change, but not much. There are pockets of color, but most of the leaves are green rather than yellow or red. The Tunnel of Trees has a few weeks before peak but color is starting to show now. Lakeside areas are forecast to peak during the last two weeks of October, so you still have time to plan your fall color tour. –Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist Tom O’Hare

October 1, 2020

Looking for incredible color? The best place to go right now is the U.P. Reports are coming in of beautiful reds, oranges and yellows west of Marquette toward the Porcupine Mountains. Closer to home, there is a wide variation from north to south and east to west. If you’re up for a drive, I highly recommend a trip from Cadillac to Petoskey along US-131. After lunch head over to Gaylord and then south along Old-27. It gets you off the interstate with more color to soak in at a slower pace. After reaching M-55, head west back to Cadillac. Be ready for a lot of color with most areas at 50% to near peak.

A perfect short trip is from Mesick to Farwell. M-115 is beautiful with tons of color. Some trees are past peak and already dropping leaves but the reds and yellows are in great shape.

It’s obvious the higher elevations have the best color and will only get better this weekend. East of I-75, color is limited at about 30-50%. Lakeside areas have the least amount of change with spots like Traverse City, Ludington and the Tunnel of Trees looking at another 2–3 weeks before peak. Regardless of where you want to go, you will see change! With the cool and damp weather around, the colors should really pop. Get out and enjoy the view! –Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist Tom O’Hare

September 24, 2020

Fall is here and the leaves are changing! So far, they appear to be around their normal schedule. We’ve already had lots of cloudy skies with chilly temperatures, which helped to get things going. This weekend, the Western and Central U.P. will be around 50%, especially for the Porcupine Mountains. The Eastern U.P. has a bit less change, so 30% is what you can expect. If you’ve been traveling around the Lower Peninsula, the views range from pockets of color to light green. I expect 30% change for most of the Lower Peninsula including areas south of Mount Pleasant.

I recently took a drive along I-75 and US-131 noticing small pockets of strong color with maples really showing a lot of bright yellow and red. Some trees have just a few limbs with vibrant colors and the rest is green. This week’s sunshine and warmth are slowing the change but you’ll notice it jump back into gear when the clouds and cool temperatures return next week. At this point, it looks like much of the Lower Peninsula will peak during the second and third weeks of October. –Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist Tom O’Hare

Northern Michigan Fall Color Update 2019

Wondering when peak color arrived last year? Take a look.

October 24, 2019

This year’s colors are fading fast in the U.P. and for parts of the Lower Peninsula. This is the time to take a walk through the woods and see the color change deep in the forest. The good news is there is still plenty of nice color around the Lower Peninsula, so get out and enjoy! This second set of color developing should be a bit brighter than the first as the cold is settling in with more clouds. You’ll find the best color along and west of US-131 and M-65, as you get closer to the lakes. Places like the Tunnel of Trees should be very nice this weekend as the gold and red are beginning to pop. I highly recommend going for a drive or a walk this weekend as the coldest air of the season is set to come next week. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

Michigan fall color map

October 21, 2019

There is great color all across the region, even in the Upper Peninsula where a lot of trees are past peak. Higher elevations are changing fast with larger areas of past peak over the Lower Peninsula. A big storm is headed in this week and will take down a leaves so watch out for slick, rain-soaked leaves on roads. Lakeshore areas have not peaked yet—that looks to start this weekend. If you find an area of past peak conditions, go for a hike in the forest. The difference will be incredible as most leaves are still changing and a week later than the edges of the trees. This weekend is looking decent right now, so be sure to make plans to see the colors. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

michigan fall color map

October 17, 2019

WOW! The leaves have really popped over the last 3–5 days. Best color is over the Lower Peninsula. Reports along M-115, US-131 and I-75 are of huge areas of incredible reds and brilliant oranges. Don’t be surprised when you drive through the highest elevations that the leaves are dropping quickly. That’s when you go for a hike in the woods and see the leaves still changing. Lakeside areas are near peak with peak conditions for some spots. It looks like the best color develops near the water next week. Peak to past peak color is the story for much of the U.P., so get out and enjoy a nice drive this weekend while the quiet weather is here! —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

michigan fall color map

October 10, 2019

Looking for peak color? Head to the Western U.P. and Wisconsin where the trees are really popping! If you don’t want to travel that far, you can find areas of nice color in the Central and Eastern U.P. as well as in pockets of the Lower Peninsula. Overall in the Lower Peninsula, the color change is still limited with most of the region at 50% or less, and most lakeside areas at around 30% or lower. Leaf peepers around Cadillac can find pockets of peak color this weekend, especially in central Wexford County. The same can be said for those driving along 131 near Kalkaska and Mancelona. Gaylord and much of Otsego County will be near peak to peak conditions. One key thing to remember is there is a lot of variability over just a few miles. You can go from near peak color to maybe 30% within 10 miles and then to 50%, 5 miles down the road. Don’t be surprised if a lot of the early color gets taken down this weekend due to strong and gusty winds. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

michigan fall color map

October 3, 2019

Colors are really popping in the Western U.P. where near peak conditions are expected later this week. As you head into the Eastern U.P., you can find some nice color but not quite near peak. The same goes for the Lower Peninsula where higher elevations definitely are getting a beautiful change. If traveling around Gaylord, Mancelona or Cadillac there are some large areas of reds, oranges, browns and yellows all showing up. For some sections, the color is mainly on the fringes of the trees but with colder air coming in expect to see a lot of change through the weekend. Lakeshore areas are very slow to change with most still very green. Peak conditions are still a few weeks away in those spots. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

Michigan Fall Color Map

September 26, 2019

Colors are beginning to pop in the Western U.P. as cooler air moves in. The Central and Eastern U.P. have a large variation but the average is still around 30%. Lakeside areas for most of the state are on the green side. Those traveling around the Lower Peninsula are still in that 15–30% range. The cool air this weekend will push some areas to about 40%. There is no question the highest elevations have more color with pockets where leaves are already falling. It looks like next weekend we will have some good color across much of the U.P. and higher spots of the Lower Peninsula. Peak color looks to be about 2 weeks away for much of Northern Michigan. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

September 19, 2019

Fall Color Report: The recent sunshine and warmth slowed down the change for much of the region. Higher elevations are forecast at 15–30% through this weekend. Pockets of reds and oranges are certainly around but not a ton. Colors are generally on the dull side right now, but you can find areas of bright color. The problem is that bright color is typically just parts of a tree. As seasonable air returns, you will notice the change speed up, especially in the U.P. I suspect there will be 50% change over in many areas next weekend. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

Northern Michigan Fall Color Update 2018

October 25

Peak color has passed for most of the region but the color isn’t all gone. Yellows and oranges are still around in force but just not as abundant or bright. To see the best color head into the forest or toward the lakeshore. Places like Traverse City, Frankfort, Manistee and the Tunnel of Trees are peak to past peak so enjoy while you can. Higher elevations that peaked last week are already becoming bare. Leaves are dropping fast.Michigan fall color map

October 17

Fall Color Report: Our color change across Northern Michigan has expanded this week, making it peak to past peak for most of the region. Vibrant reds, yellows and oranges are taking center stage this week! Lakeside locations like Traverse City, Frankfort and Manistee are in the peak range. Of course, some of our river valleys, such as Grayling and Indian River are a bit behind, but they have reached peak this week. In contrast, a few of the highest elevations around Gaylord and Cadillac are past peak. Don’t be surprised if you see pockets of brown in the higher elevations. You’ll want to spend plenty of time outside these next few days. It’s the perfect time of year to go for a hike, bike ride or capture some photos of the brilliant color.

October 11

Fall Color Report: Color is exploding all across Northern Michigan. The recent weather has really kicked up the pace of change, making it peak for most of the region. We’ve seen trees go from yellow to orange to brown in less than five days. So, this is the weekend for a fall color tour. Even lakeside locations like Traverse City, Frankfort and Ludington are near peak and could reach peak next week. Of course, some of our river valleys, like around Grayling and Indian River are a bit behind and are still near peak. In contrast, a few of the highest elevations around Gaylord and Cadillac may even be past peak by the weekend so don’t be surprised if you see pockets of brown. Go for a hike in the woods and you’ll see a wide range in color from peak at the tops to 50 percent at eye level.Michigan fall color map

October 4

Fall Color Report: What a difference a week makes! Higher elevations are quickly changing with more areas of good color coming out. The U.P. has really exploded with most inland areas west of Marquette near or at peak. The Eastern U.P. is showing good color west of I-75 while many areas to the east are still on the green side. For the Lower Peninsula, higher elevations are looking good with pockets of red and oranges popping. Peak color here will likely be the weekend of the 13/14th. Some pockets could peak as early as this weekend. Spotters tell us there is 75 percent change between Grayling and Gaylord. If you plan on touring along the lakes, color is about a week behind with limited areas of color. Places like Traverse City, Frankfort and Ludington should peak around the 20/21st or even as late as the 27/28th.

Michigan fall color map

September 27

Fall Color Report: The feel of fall is certainly here but the look isn’t. If you’ve been out and about, you’ve seen some pockets of color but nothing major. Most trees have lost their deep green and are showing yellow, and for some, a bit of orange. There isn’t one particular area showing a lot of color right now. Some trees or branches of trees have changed but those are more isolated than anything else. You will see more change next week as temps cool down.  —Tom O’Hare Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist

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