Photography by Jim Doty

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Upper Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan

I came across MSN's "TOP TEN FALL FOLIAGE SPOTS". Some of the choices on MSN's list are classics (VT and NH). Others are surprising. MSN's list is here.

My top ten list would look different.

What places would I add to this list? Let me mention a few in two states, Michigan and Colorado. Details follow. Times of best color are approximate and vary quite a bit from year to year. Check the link below for current reports. In Colorado, the color starts earlier in the higher elevations.

MICHIGAN. More red, crimson, and orange than you can imagine.

In late September to mid-October you can usually find great color in Michigan's Upper Penisula. Drive almost any highway in any of the national forests. US 2 along the Lake Michigan shore can be very nice. Stop at the Cut River Bridge west of St. Ignace. Head for the Porcupine Mountains out in the western U.P. Wander the back roads in the Seney-Germfask area. Go to Seney National Wildlife Refuge for water reflection shots with geese and swans at sunset or sunrise. Stay at the historic Blaney Park Inn south of Germfask in the little hamlet of Blaney Park. A nice B&B with very low rates. Drive around in the Tahquamenon Falls area and go to both the Upper and Lower Falls.

In early to mid-October, wander the northern half of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Just draw a line from Traverse City to Alpena and drive around anywhere along and north of the line. I'm a little partial to the western half of this area. Drive up the Old Mission Peninsula, just north of Traverse City. Drive the justly famous "Tunnel of Trees" (MI-119) between Harbor springs and Cross Village. Stop and eat at Legs Inn in Cross Village.

Maple Leaves near Germfask, Michigan


COLORADO. Go for the Gold.

Go to Rocky Mountain National Park in mid to late September. (Color may be earlier in 2004 based on early reports.) Look for golden aspen mingled with green evergreens. Drive the park roads and take a hike almost anywhere. Don't know where to begin? Hike in the Glacier Gorge and Bear Lake areas. Some of the apsen can be almost orange, depending on the location and the year. Go to the right on the trail around Bear Lake and climb up into the boulder field for a nice shot of Long's Peak between the aspen.

Sprague Lake does not have aspen but it is a great shot at sunrise and sunset.

Stay at the Alpine Trail Ridge Inn in Estes Park and tell Jay and Fran that I sent you.

Guanella Pass. Between Grant and Georgetown. Wonderful aspen in mid to late September.

The San Jaun Skyway. From mid-September to early October, drive between Durango and Ridgeway, and between Ridgeway and Delores. The area around the Sneffels Range is especially nice. Wonderful aspens and spectacular scenery. The Million Dollar Highway from Ouray to Silverton is something else.

Times of peak color vary every year. Check local fall color reports before you go. Links to color reports are here.

Go photograph some gorgeous color!

Mt. Sneffels. Southwest Colorado

September 14, 2004

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