Boating after the high season can be wonderful with crisp temperatures, few crowds and terrific scenery. This autumn, cruising on your Harris pontoon can be the best adventure of the year so load up with snacks, warm drinks and extra clothes, and head out for the best of lake life. Here are seven areas that you’ll love.
Columbia River Gorge, PNW
The Pacific Northwest is a real treat in the fall with trees that light up with unreal colors. The Columbia River, between Oregon and Washington, is great cruising territory. The canyon walls are high, extending from the Columbia and Deschutes rivers to over 80 miles west. Peak times to enjoy are September and early October but hurry, the height of peeping is only about two weeks long.
Sacramento Delta, California
With lots of launch ramps and plenty of marinas, you can cruise the Delta in Northern California all autumn long. There are many fuel docks and waterfront restaurants along the way, and you can even dip a hook and try your luck at fishing if you like. The weather stays boating-friendly longer so you can enjoy the area well after other parts of the country are too cold to consider.
Dillon Reservoir, Colorado
Boating in the Rocky Mountains guarantees color and Dillon Reservoir, at over 9,000 feet of elevation, does it like nowhere else. There’s a boat ramp and a marina to help with logistics and the surrounding Aspens provide yellow and gold colors throughout late September. Be prepared for cool temperatures and changing weather.
Door County, Wisconsin
Near Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Door County peninsula pokes out into Lake Michigan and is a busy tourist destination all summer long. But wait until fall and you can enjoy the 912-acre state park of Rock Island that offers fiery color and have it mostly to yourself. Tour wineries and lighthouses or just cruise and take in the show.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island is jam-packed all summer long but can be wonderful in the fall. Take in the colors on a pontoon cruise, hike coastline, visit Fort Mackinac, or just relax. Peak leaf season is usually the first two weeks of October.
Hudson River Valley, New York
The Hudson River Valley in New York offers unbelievable river views, bird watching with bald eagles and egrets, and great river cruising. The entire riverfront is bathed in color from late September to mid-October and the change-of-seasons vibe can’t be beat.
Anywhere on Chesapeake Bay is guaranteed to be terrific for fall boating but there’s nothing like the nautical feel of historic Annapolis to make you want to stay on the water longer. Great food includes the OysterFest while the Naval Academy offers amazing tours. While here, why not check out the fall powerboat show and some Painkiller cocktails at Pussers?
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 boat.