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Ashley Lizzi

By: Ashley Lizzi on October 10th, 2022

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6 Lakes that have the Best Fall Foliage

If you boat in a part of the country that begins to get chilly come September, you understand what a bummer the end of the boating season can be.  This is usually the time you have to start thinking about what your winterization process will look like.


You should have a plan to store the boat and should be communicating with anyone that’s part of this process such as your dealer or local storage facility.  While that is all in the works, you may get lucky enough to sneak in a few more boat rides.


Fall boating can be some of the best boating all season.  On the lake where I boat, this time of year is great because all of the lakers stop coming for the weekend.  The lake is quiet and has little to no traffic.


The sunsets in the fall are also superior.  If you get a warm enough day where the sun is shining, I recommend hitting the water before your boat is pulled for the season.  The best part about these cruises is seeing the fall foliage and the breathtaking shorelines.


If you’re looking to find the ultimate fall-time lake getaway, here’s a list of seven foliage-forward options.  There are tons more where this came from, but these are sure to please with their fall colors and bearable climates. 


1. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Lake Superior, MI

One of my favorite spots especially in chilly months is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  This area can be found along the south shore of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan


Known for its dramatic sandstone formations, the colors of fall pop between the foliage and the multicolored rock cliffs.  The beauty of Pictured Rocks can be enjoyed all year long but once the trees start to turn, it takes on an entirely new vibe. 


Between the beaches below and the cliffs that stand next to them, you can take in the scenery from any type of boat, motor or no motor.  Check out this shoreline and the quaint towns nearby for a relaxing, beautiful weekend away.  Insider tip, bundle up, the U.P. gets chilly quickly.   


2. Lake Tahoe, CA/NV

Lake Tahoe, the end.  Kidding, but seriously, do I need to explain?  This body of water is surrounded by scenic views.  The beauty is elevated when the leaves start to turn and contrast off of the snow-capped mountains.  


A trip to this lake in the fall could be one of the best times of year because this area is so popular, and there’s lots of traffic through the spring and summer.  When fall rolls around, the population of tourists decreases significantly and there is less traffic on the water.  

You can expect temps in the 50s-60s mid-fall and clear blue skies that set the landscape on fire.  This time of year at Lake Tahoe is considered the “calm between storms” because the summer goers have left and the snow skiers haven’t arrived yet.


3. Lake Coeur d’Alene, ID

Another spot that’s near and dear to my heart is Lake Coeur d’Alene.  This hidden gem is located in northern Idaho near the Washington border.  With 135 miles of shoreline, the scenery goes on for days.  


Surrounded by tree-filled mountains, the foliage is the main attraction in itself.  No boat?  No worries, there are foliage cruises offered to the public from September through October.  This is a great way to kick back and take in the sights. 


This area is a hidden gem because it’s less populated than Tahoe but arguably just as beautiful.  Summer months do bring in more people though, so fall is a great time to visit if you want to stay away from the traffic.  


Bundle up and head to Idaho, you will be in awe of the beauty and the neat town of Coeur d’Alene.  Stick around for Oktoberfest and other fun fall activities in the area.  


4. Lake Geneva, WI

Lake Geneva in Wisconsin is a popular go-to for mid-westerners all year round.  Voted one of the most beautiful lake towns, lots of people flock here to hit the water in the summer months.


Fall is also a great time of year to visit and, like many touristy towns, has less traffic in the off-season.  Surrounded by dense trees and flat land, the shoreline is bursting with fall colors once the leaves change.


Explore the autumn beauty by water on one of the lake’s fall foliage boat tours or by land.  There are trails mapped out around the lake that let you bike, walk, or drive through the scenic foliage.  


If you’re in the Midwest and looking for a beautiful fall getaway, check out all the fun activities that Lake Geneva has to offer.  


5. Finger Lakes, NY

The Finger Lakes in New York are a group of long-shaped lakes that include 11 major lakes and other smaller bodies of water.  These lakes sit in the northwestern part of the state and are easily accessible from big cities such as Toronto, Syracuse, and New York City.  


A great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, if you’re looking to visit in the fall, you’ll want to plan your trip for the first half of October.  That’s when foliage is at its peak and the colors have popped.  


The fall colors are such a huge part of what makes this the ultimate fall getaway, there’s a guide to finding the best foliage in the area.  Aside from the beauty of autumn, this area is known for its wineries. 


If you’re a wine enthusiast, this is the time of year to visit the Finger Lakes.  Fall is grape harvest season which brings along many exciting wine-centric events.  With over 100 wineries in the area, you can enjoy the fall colors with a plush glass of red in hand.  

6. Flathead Lake, MT

Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana is the largest natural freshwater lake in the west, located in northwest Montana.  It sits at the base of the Mission and Swan mountain ranges.  This massive body of water has over 185 miles of shoreline and the deepest spot is 370 feet. 


A cool fact about this lake is that the southern half sits within a reservation, so be aware that anyone headed to that end of the lake must purchase a tribal recreation permit.  Otherwise, the lake is open to the public for all types of recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and watersports.


As if I need to tell you that Montana in the fall is a different type of beauty only found in the great state, this is a lake that bursts with fall foliage.  Most people pull their boats from Flathead come fall making for a relaxing on-water vacation if you’re content with chilly boat rides. 


If you love the water and enjoy fishing, fly fishing is huge here.  You can learn from an instructor or take your gear down to the water’s edge.  Check out Flathead Lake for a beautiful lake experience out west.  


Fall Foliage on the Water

It’s no secret that experiencing the colors of fall by boat is a top-tier boating experience.  As a lifelong boater, this is one of my favorite times of year to hit the water.  If you get the perfect day with clear blue skies, the color of the trees will reflect off of the water and it’s indescribable the beauty that comes from this type of scene.  


There are countless lakes that are surrounded by bright fall foliage from September through October so don’t limit yourself to these six.  But if you’re looking for an on-water getaway with lots of fun fall activities, these six locations will be sure to please.


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About Ashley Lizzi

Barletta Content Manager, 8+ years Manufacturer Marketing, Brand Management, Customer Experience, and life-long boater.