Fall colors are heating up on the Whitefish Chain! The area is exploding with color, and gazing at the blaze of color is a favorite fall pass time. While there are so many ways to see the fall color, from bike rides to hikes to scenic drives, we want to recommend that this year you check out the color by boat.
Check out our fishing and boating page to find information on where to rent pontoons, kayaks, fishing boats and more. By boat you can explore each of the 14 lakes and their thousands of acres on the Whitefish Chain and take in the scenery.
We recommend a few places to check out along your boating journey. One great stop is the Rollie Johnson Islands, which are between Upper and Lower Whitefish Lake. There are three islands that make up this natural and recreation area, but we recommend stopping at Big Island. There's a sandy beach on the northeast side of the island where you can pull in, and from there you can follow the self-guided nature trail through an old-growth forest. There's also wood available on the island free (donations are appreciated) if you'd like to cook up a shore lunch in one of the fire pits available. You'll also find outhouses and picnic tables on the island.
Many other areas on the lake offer picnic spots, including the Army Corps of Engineers on Cross Lake (you can beach in the same bay as the dam, but to the north-northeast side. You'll find a spot to tie off and, if you walk around the bay to the south, picnic shelters, barbecues and tables), or at the Trout Lake Access. There's a swimming beach and a picnic table or two.
You might also enjoy making your way to Cross Lake and heading into the channel between Cross and Dagget. Go slow in this area and take in the scenery.
Wetlands are also a great place to watch wildlife and see the colors. While you may not be able to boat into these areas because they are shallow and weedy, plenty can be seen alongside them. Watch for soon-migrating great blue herons, green herons and more. You might also see deer drinking from the shore or migrating ducks. Some of the more out-of-the-way bays, such as those on the south end of Cross Lake, border areas of public land that are undeveloped and full of trees.
If you're not on a motor boat but rather something self-powered, you might want to take advantage of your ability to enter the wetlands and shallow bays, such as those on Rush Lake, Arrowhead Lake, and the creek between Lower Hay Lake and Upper Hay Lake (you may or may not be able to make it to Upper Hay depending on the water level).
As always, remember to wear your PFDs. It's also important to remember cold water safety, as water temperatures have dropped on the Whitefish Chain in the cooler fall weather. Enjoy your day gazing at the beautiful scenery!