Floating Over Fall

Michigan’s autumn colors dazzle from any angle,but a breezy hot air balloon flight offers a bird’s-eye view of the season’s most spectacular displays


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As long as the wind is steady (and not too strong), there isn’t a bad time to go ballooning. But in autumn, with the leaves of Michigan’s hardwood forests at their peak color, a hot air balloon ride skirting the local treetops offers a unique perspective on familiar woodlands, lakes, islands, and streams.

Along the way, passengers can expect to spot blue herons, warblers, sandhill cranes, white-tailed deer, and other wildlife, not to mention vibrant thickets of sugar maples, oaks, aspens, sumacs, and birches.

Peak color times vary throughout the state, but a handful of hot air balloons fly over metro Detroit when the forests are at their best. The Westwind Balloon Company — owned and operated by 32-year ballooning veteran Scott Lorenz — provides fall color rides through September and October, flying over areas of Oakland County including Milford, South Lyon, Kensington Metropark, Brighton, and Island Lake State Park. Although the wind dictates the trajectory of each trip, passengers can rely on a celebratory glass of champagne following another happy landing.

Westwind Balloon Company operates May 1 through Oct. 31. Flights are $347.50 per person, limited to two passengers per flight. Flights are one hour with sunrise and sunset options. Visit puremichiganballoon.com or call 734-667-2098. 

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