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Fall boating offers a lot of inspiration and temptation to lengthen your season and check out the amazing changing colors on the shoreline. Most fall foliage around the country peaks between September and November which can be prime boating season, depending on latitude and altitude of the body of water. Whether you’re a photographer looking for a colorful shot or are boating with kids, here are some destinations to add to your bucket list where you can admire fall foliage right from your boat.
Eleven narrow lakes in New York State offer brilliant colors and more. Formed by receding glaciers, these lakes offer a long weekend’s worth of boating as well as other things to do including learning in-depth history of local indigenous tribes or visiting museums, breweries, wineries and charming lakeside towns. Check out 38-mile-long Cayuga Lake with nearby waterfalls, or Keuka Lake which is popular with watersport enthusiasts.
The 5,286-acre Nockamixon State Park in Bucks County makes a great day trip to take in fall colors. The 1,450-acre lake, almost due north from Philadelphia, is popular with anglers as well as sport boaters. There are three boat-launch areas so it’s easy to get on the water for a day of outstanding photo ops. The area is family-friendly with something to do for everyone in your group.
This man-made lake is a wonder and has great birdwatching any time of year. With nearly 70 miles of shoreline, you’ll be surrounded by color in the fall and if you go as late as October, you can visit the nearby Autumn Glory Festival in Oakland. With lots of marinas and waterfront restaurants, you’ll be able to enjoy the area from the water and on shore.
Lake Norman in North Carolina starts its leaf transformation in October and continues until late November. Just 20 miles from Charlotte, the lake was created with the construction of the Ford Dam between 1959 and 1964 and is the largest man-made body of water in the state. Check out the colors or if you’re up for chilly water, take a brisk ride on a wakeboard nearly all the way to Thanksgiving.
It’s hard to capture just one spot on this humongous lake but if you’re looking for great color and lots to do, head to Door County, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan’s western shore. This area is packed all summer, but once the tourists leave, a visit to Rock Island State Park is a treat for foliage followers. Door County is pretty far north where the leaves turn sooner, so plan your fall boating trip early and make time to tour the local wineries, visit the lighthouses and ride the trolley to find the best grub.
Tucked up in northwestern Montana in the heart of glacier country, you’ll find giant Flathead Lake with its 190 square miles of water and 160 miles of shoreline. This area, just an hour south of Glacier National Park, is a boater’s paradise and the surrounding forest and mountains are awe-inspiring. The water is chilly and the season is short so don’t delay in planning your fall boating adventure which will keep you talking about it all year round.
Lake Tahoe does it all from snow skiing, to fishing to general boating, and you can never go wrong here from September to late October, when the area explodes in autumnal color. Just 40 miles from Reno, Lake Tahoe is nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is the second deepest lake in the United States. Large aspen groves fire up the shoreline where there are multiple marinas to put in and enjoy waterfront amenities.
Boating trips for families can be magical on the shoulder season, so pack your boat with a thermos of hot chocolate, extra jackets, binoculars and a camera before heading out for the best fall foliage views from the deck of your Bayliner.
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