As the season changes, temperatures drop and days get shorter. Trees get less direct sunlight, and the chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down. The lack of chlorophyll reveals yellow and orange pigments that were already in the leaves but masked during the warmer months. Darker red leaves are the result of a chemical change: Sugars that can get trapped in the leaves produce new pigments (called anthocyanins) that weren’t part of the leaf in the growing season. Some trees, like oaks and dogwoods, are likely to produce red leaves.
We begin this September issue with some science from the Smithsonian, who gives us the facts behind the color explosion that is weeks away from hitting Door County. While the science is fascinating, it’s nothing compared to the transcendent spiritual feeling that one experiences while personally viewing the beauty of Door County in fall.
To get your fix this year, planning is key, and below are some resources to help. Open Hearth Lodge has limited availability during peak season, so book now!
When planning to catch peak colors, it’s important to check many sources. Weather, especially in Door County, is highly unpredictable, so fall color prediction maps are just best guesses based on historical trends. Destination Door County provides a full guide with a map of current conditions, while options from smokymountains.com and Travel Wisconsin offer interactive maps to aid in planning your trip for maximum color. One thing they all agree on: the 2nd week of October is a great bet for great fall colors.
Fall Foliage Prediction Map
Wisconsin Fall Color Map
It’s not just the leaves that are active this time of year, it’s also a great birdwatching time in Door County. Many species of songbirds are already arriving in the county ahead of the fall colors. These birds spent the summer in Canada, with many headed to Central and South America for the winter.
New to birdwatching? Here’s a great guide for beginners, and more migration info from birdcast.info.
Wild Things: It’s Show Time for Fall Birds
Fall Family Fun
There’s much more to do in fall than just watch the wildlife, and Travel Wisconsin has you covered with an article offering a great selection of activities to wow parents and kids alike:
Unlocking October’s Magic: Family-Friendly Fall Activities in Door County
One More Thing: Visit the Island
For a full Door County fall experience, you can view the color change by exploring Door County from the very top, at least the top of Washington Island. A day trip to the Island is an underrated and highly rewarding Door County experience, one that even warrants an extensive article by the New York Times. If you’ve never been, or even if you have, this article is a great read:
A Speck of Old Iceland in Ice-Cold Lake Michigan