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Color Changing Tour Road Trip

Published October 24, 2018

Residents of West Michigan are thrilled by the abundance of color as forests take on their autumn palette. Starting in 1937, at the beginning of families using automobiles for pleasure trips, the Western Michigan Tourist Authority printed a full-color tour map entitled the Flaming Forests of Michigan. Then as today, it provides an excellent guide to view some of nature's true magic. But there's more to autumn in our area than viewing the colors. We've collected a number of stopping points that you can include in your travels to make your excursion just that much more interesting.
If you're not satisfied with just driving through the fall foliage, consider a stop at the Grass River Natural Area. It's a 1,492-acre nature preserve surrounding the Grass River, located in the heart of Antrim County. There are seven miles of well-maintained trails including 1.5 miles of boardwalk floating above sedge meadows and cedar wetlands, in addition to the deciduous forest.

Traveling with kids? Then consider the Frankfort Fall Festival. Some of the happenings will include a parade along Main Street with giant pumpkins and locally-built floats. Make sure you catch the mutt march section of the parade. Also available are helicopter rides, wagon rides, artistic pumpkin carvings, and what everyone would like to see: a giant pumpkin dropped on a car (careful where you park). Kids will enjoy the Halloween maze, activities and games, as well as, a free showing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”. 

Would you like to view the autumn colors from above the treetops? Then consider a drive to Thompsonville and the Crystal Mountain Ski Center. The ski resort will be offering chairlift rides on weekends during the fall. But getting there is only half the fun as when you reach the top not only will you have a view of three counties, but you'll be greeted by live music, food, and beverages. And children as young as four are allowed on the chairlift.

If you're looking to capture the fall colors with a camera, there are two events in Hastings later this month you may want to consider. There will be an Autumn Photograph Workshop with Josh Haas who will assist you with learning the intricacies of lighting, color, background, and foreground, but also luck! The second event is an early evening trail walk where you'll be able to test your low-light picture taking skills.

If you'd like to park the car and ride along at a slower pace, there's a boat tour to consider: the hour-long guided cruise on the Black River in South Haven aboard the Michigan Maritime Museum‘s historic replica Truscott Launch. Cruises are offered the entire month of October.
If you want to combine all the usual fall activities into one three-day event, consider attending the Annual Color Cruise and Island Festival in downtown Grand Ledge. You can view the beautiful autumn colors by cruising on the Michigan Princess riverboat, by canoe, horse and wagon, or on your own. This event includes cider pressing, blacksmithing, fur traders, pioneer crafts, candle dipping, pumpkin painting, music, food, and a petting zoo.

So no matter whether you want to view the autumn colors from a mountaintop, a river cruise, a hiking trail, or just driving through it in your car, you'll be witnessing a rare treat as nature unfolds its palette across the trees of West Michigan.
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