Each year as we transition away from summer, the foliage transitions with us, its color shifting from bright green hues to the rich yellows and ambers we lovingly associate with fall.
Ask any Michigander and they’d be able to list a number of reasons why each Michigan season is more beautiful than the last -- but the love for fall still seems to reign supreme. And, perhaps, the most universally loved aspect of the season is the color change.
The timing of the change is different for each region, depending how far north you go. In Michigan, the color change occurs a bit earlier in the Upper Peninsula than in the Lower Peninsula -- though the timing is fairly similar.
So, when is the best time to view the fall color change in Michigan in 2023?
SmokyMountains.com has released their annual Fall Foliage Prediction Map, which forecasts when the color change will reach its peak, and when it will be past peak viewing, across the entire U.S. Here’s the predicted timeline for Michigan’s color change for 2023.
- Sept. 4: No change in most of the state, minimal color change in the northeastern and northwestern sides of the U.P.
- Sept. 11: Minimal color change in most of the state, patchy color change on the east and west sides of the U.P.
- Sept. 18: Patchy color change in most of the state, partial color change on the east and west sides of the U.P.
- Sept. 25: Partial color change in most of the state, near peak color change on the east and west sides of the U.P.
- Oct. 2: Near peak color change in most of the state, peak color change on the east and west sides of the U.P.
- Oct. 9: Peak color change in most of the L.P. and in the central U.P., past peak color change on the east and west sides of the U.P.
- Oct. 16: Most of the state moving past peak, with some peak color still going along Lake Michigan and the southern Lower Peninsula.
- Oct. 23: The entire state of Michigan will be past peak color change.
So, if you’re looking to see the changing colors at their brightest and boldest, consider heading outdoors the first week of October.
Check out the interactive map and timeline below to see for yourself.
The predicted dates are not expected to be 100% accurate, but are certainly close. Website officials say they examine official data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as historical trends and user reports, to make their predictions.
Why do leaves change color?
Leaves are green from spring to summer. That green is the color of chlorophyl, which turns sunlight into food for the tree.
Then two things happen in the fall that causes chlorophyl to break down: diminishing sunlight and colder temperatures. This is a natural process and is part of the tree’s transition to winter mode. As the chlorophyl breaks down, the leaves morph into other colors.
Diminishing sunlight in the fall is a constant, it happens at the same pace every year. But temperature is not a constant -- and changes to our October temperature regime could change the timing of when the leaves turn.