10 September 2008


Jim Rink (313) 336-1513

(Editor’s note: AAA’s weekly Wednesday fall color survey will begin today and continue through October.)

A few trees in some parts of Michigan have already started to show their fall foliage, and AAA Michigan says this may be a harbinger of what could be an excellent fall color season if Mother Nature cooperates.

The trend of vacationers staying closer to home -- along with a cool summer with substantial rainfall early -- points to a promising season statewide between mid-September, when the show usually begins in the north, and late-October, when it ends in southern Michigan.

According to Dr. Bert Cregg, associate professor in the departments of Horticulture and Forestry at Michigan State University, “the extent and brilliance of this year’s fall color may depend on how quickly we recover from the current dry spell.” A hot Labor Day weekend and dry weather preceding it has caused many trees in the mid-Michigan area to shed leaves, said Cregg.

The key to brilliant color also depends greatly on weather conditions that prevail in September and October, he said. Sunny days and cool nights are the best combination for a blockbuster season. Adequate soil moisture helps the trees to hang onto their leaves and increases the duration of the show.

Michigan is blessed with vibrant natural color, and plenty of ways to see it. There are more than 18.6 million acres of forested land, two national shorelines, nearly 100 state parks and recreation areas, hundreds of local and regional parks, three national forests and state forests in both peninsulas.

Enjoy the season on leisurely canoe floats down rivers, pedaling mountain bikes, on horseback, or enjoying local fall color cruises, or take a traditional weekend drive to see Michigan’s more than 160 waterfalls.

Travelers can add enjoyment to their fall color tour with a stop at one of the state’s many wineries, cider mills or fall festivals.

When planning trips, remember that shoreline areas along the Great Lakes tend to have delayed peak color compared with inland forests because of lake-effect warmth. Valleys, hilltops and roadways often turn earlier because they are more likely to see cooler temperatures.

Beginning September 10, fall color watchers looking for the best viewing opportunities can call Travel Michigan at (888) 78-GREAT (784-7328) for color updates provided by AAA Michigan each Wednesday through October. Updates also will be on the Internet at AAA.com (go to NEWS/SAFETY page), or visit www.michigan.org.

Before you head to your fall color destination, check www.AAATraffic.com for construction that may be along your route.