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      Upper Peninsula is approaching peak fall colors

      Saturday, September 22, is the autumnal equinox and marks the first official day of fall. This time of year, some tourists have been known to flock to the U.P. to view the fall colors.

      "Once you leave the City of Marquette, get up beyond West Ishpeming, the colors are absolutely at their peak all the way to L'Anse," said Pat Black, Executive Director of the Marquette Country Convention and Visitors Bureau (MCCVB).

      Even closer to Marquette, in Negaunee Township, the leaves are already changing. This is thanks to less sunlight from shorter days and frost from the past week. Inland locations normally peak in mid to late September. Reports around Marquette and east of the city are very different.

      "When you're right there along the lake, the lake temperatures are right around 60 to 61 degrees, especially in the near-shore zones. So that really moderates the temperatures right along the lake. It keeps it warm enough that frost does not develop," said Keith Cooley, National Weather Service meteorologist.

      Presque Isle is almost completely green. According to the NWS, the peak for locations closer to the lake is in early to mid October when the lake cools down, but if things cool down much more, it could be a bigger problem.

      "You start getting too cold, you get a freeze to develop and then the leaves start falling off before they change colors," said Cooley.

      On our Facebook page, more than 100 comments offered a good viewing spot. Mike Saari suggests Copper Peak in Gogebic County, and Lynn Dittrich Brock suggests Piers Gorge in Norway. Adele Croucher Petersen says, "Just take a drive anywhere in the U.P. You will see the most beautiful colors anywhere."

      The MCCVB says that right now, it's best to go west.

      "Ride to Houghton, ride to Keweenaw, ride up to wherever, anywhere west. The colors are brilliant," Black said.

      The MCCVB also offers information on self guided fall color tours on their website. The Weather Channel also offers a graphic, updated periodically, with an approximate national map of the fall colors.