Spectacular Hues: Fall Color Tours

Some of the best tours are self-guided. Take your time and immerse yourself into the limitless hues of orange and yellow. The following tours below give you directions to get the best out of your road-trip and a chance to see some local hot spots in their glory season. Better yet only pay for the gas in your tank, but you can’t put a price-tag on the beauty you’re about to see.

Peninsula Point Lighthouse

The Peninsula Point Lighthouse Tour takes you around Little Bay de Noc. Climb the steps of the 40-foot lighthouse and gaze at the panoramic view of Lake Michigan. This historic lighthouse was built in 1865 to help guide the wooden sailing vessels into both Little and Big Bays de Noc. Enjoy a picnic by the lapping water of the bay. On the way back, take County Road 511 T-15th Road through the farm country of the peninsula back to US 2.

Directions: From US 2, take County Road 513 T down the Stonington Peninsula.

Monarchs of the North

Stonington Peninsula is also home to a breathtaking monarch butterfly migration. The cedar trees and lands surrounding the Peninsula Point Lighthouse Park, located at the point separating Little from Big Bay de Noc, is a resting place for thousands of monarchs in late summer and early fall. The butterflies gather at the peninsula for their annual flights across the open waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay on their way to warmer climates. To reach the end of the Stonington Peninsula, turn off of US 2 onto County Road 513 T and follow it south.

The best time to see the monarch butterfly arrival is in August, however, the migration continues throughout September. The combination of the peninsula’s hardwoods changing colors along with these beautiful butterflies makes this one of the U.P.’s favorite color shows.

Tunnel of Trees

The Haymeadow Creek Tour takes you through the Hiawatha National Forest. Start at Haymeadow Creek Campground located about 11 miles from Rapid River on County Road 509. Follow the 0.9-mile loop trail along Haymeadow Creek. It’s so peaceful to walk through the forest, crossing several small bridges and stopping to watch the Haymeadow Creek Falls rapids rushing below. 

When you leave Haymeadow Creek Campground, be sure to turn left onto Forest Road 2236-38th Road to US 41 to see one of the most spectacular views of the Whitefish Basin. On the way back, stop to picnic at the Rapid River Falls Park and relax to the soothing sound of tumbling water.

Directions: Take US 2 east of the US 41 turnoff in Rapid River then make a left on 509. The campground and recreation area will be on your right about 9 miles down the road.

Garden & Ghost Towns

The Fayette tour takes you down the Garden Peninsula to historic Fayette Historic State Park. Take time to visit its quaint stores and try some smoked fish. 

This turn-of-the-century iron smelting town features over 20 original buildings. Some are restored as they may have looked in the 1800s. A hiking trail along a limestone cliff provides a breathtaking view of the town and Snail Shell Harbor

Information about Fayette Historic State Park courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Directions: On US 2, turn onto M-183 at Garden Corners and follow it to Garden. Then continue south on M-183 to LL Road. Turn left onto LL Road and then right onto 13.25 Road to reach Fayette Historic State Park. 

The Escanaba River Tour

Start your fall color tour upstream from Dam 3 on County Road 420. A nearby access area provides a view of the impounded water. Then follow County Road 426 through farming country to Cornell. Watch for whitetail deer in the fields and bald eagles soaring over the river. After passing through Cornell, County Road 519 again crosses the flat limestone bed of the Escanaba River. Turn right onto St. Nicholas 31st Road and go through Perkins and into Gladstone to look out from the bluff at the sparkling waters of Little Bay de Noc.

Directions: Head west on County Road 420 from Oak Bluff Grocery. Then make a right on Co. Rd. 426. Take a slight right onto Boney Falls H Road then a right onto “I” Road, also known as 519. Make a left when the road makes a “T” and follow it north until it makes another “T”. Turn right onto St. Nicholas 31st Road and then a right onto 35 to take you all the way to Gladstone, where you started.