Boating in the autumn offers a refreshing experience with cool weather, fewer crowds, and incredible natural beauty. This fall, hop aboard your pontoon boat for an unforgettable adventure that you'll want to turn into an annual tradition. Load up on snacks, warm drinks, and extra layers, and set out to explore these nine fantastic destinations that will capture the hearts of outdoor enthusiasts:
Columbia River Gorge, Pacific Northwest (PNW)
Fall in the Pacific Northwest is a sight to behold, with trees donning vibrant colors. Cruising along the Columbia River, which runs through Oregon and Washington, is a fantastic choice. The steep canyon walls stretch over 80 miles, making September and early October the prime time to visit.
Sacramento Delta, California
Northern California's Sacramento Delta offers endless opportunities for autumn cruising. With numerous launch ramps, marinas, fuel docks, and waterside restaurants, it's a boater's paradise. You can even try your hand at fishing. Thanks to the milder weather, you can enjoy boating here well into the fall.
Dillon Reservoir, Colorado
Boating in Colorado's Rocky Mountains guarantees a burst of color, and Dillon Reservoir stands out. Sitting at over 9,000 feet, it's surrounded by golden Aspens in late September. Be prepared for cooler temperatures and changing weather.
Door County, Wisconsin
Escape the summer crowds and head to Door County, Wisconsin. In the fall, you can have the 912-acre Rock Island State Park all to yourself, offering a fiery display of colors. Explore wineries, lighthouses, or simply cruise and take in the stunning scenery.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island is known for summer crowds, but the fall brings tranquility. Take a pontoon cruise, hike the shoreline, explore Fort Mackinac, or just unwind. Peak leaf season typically occurs in the first two weeks of October.
Hudson River Valley, New York
New York's Hudson River Valley offers unbeatable river views and excellent birdwatching. Bald eagles and egrets abound, and river cruising here is a treat. From late September to mid-October, the entire riverfront transforms into a vibrant, autumnal paradise.
Cruising the waters around Camden, Maine during the fall is a treat for nature lovers. As you sail, the coastline lights up with red, orange, and golden foliage. Camden, a charming coastal town surrounded by hills and villages, makes for a great starting point. Whether you're exploring the rugged shoreline, anchoring in quiet harbors, or simply relaxing on your boat, it's a fantastic way to soak in the stunning fall scenery of New England.
Any spot on Chesapeake Bay promises a fantastic fall boating experience. But historic Annapolis stands out for its nautical charm. Alongside OysterFest and Naval Academy tours, consider visiting the fall powerboat show and enjoying Painkiller cocktails at Pussers.
Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Straddling the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe offers spectacular fall foliage. The surrounding mountains explode with colors in October. Explore Emerald Bay, visit South Lake Tahoe's lakeside towns, and enjoy a peaceful atmosphere compared to the summer rush.
Vermont's Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain in Vermont is a hidden gem for fall foliage. The lake, surrounded by rolling hills and quaint towns, is especially captivating during autumn when maple trees turn vibrant red and orange. Cruise on the serene waters and soak in the stunning scenery.
Fall boating is magical but it can also be challenging. The weather can change quickly with incoming rain and dropping temperatures. Make sure you’re prepared. Pack extra clothes and rain gear. Check the weather and remember that the days are shorter so your itinerary should be reasonable. Bring a hot drink in a thermos and check the batteries in your flashlights in case you’re caught docking after dark. Also, make sure your Mercury engine is in tiptop shape and ready for the adventure.
The change of seasons is exciting, and it doesn’t mean it’s time to stop boating. Do some research on the best places near you, take precautions, and then enjoy what could become the most exciting time on your Harris pontoon boat.