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So you want to visit Michigan's Upper Peninsula?

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posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 10:04 AM
Well, I have the route for you! This route gives you a circle tour, hitting all the spots you may have otherwise missed.

I had two sources of inspiration for making this thread. The first is an article detailing the task of Computing the optimal road trip across the U.S.. In this road trip you hit a major landmark in each of the 48 contiguous States, but it really leaves a lot out. The second happened when recently visiting the Big Springs just outside of town. It was the glorious time of the year when the fish had come back in, and the mosquitoes had yet to come out. There was a couple that went out on the raft with us and asked what was around the area to do. The two kind of happened around the same time, so I figured why not roll with it.

The way I have the route planned starts you at St. Ignace, goes west along US-2, the routes you back up through the Keweenaw Peninsula and along the northern stretch of roads to Sault Ste. Marie, then back down to St. Ignace again. Everything along the route is family friendly and fun for all ages! So, basically I skipped over all the casinos, breweries, and wineries.

Most of the stuff is more accessible for the tourist season of Memorial through Labor Days. I make no claims for this to be definitive, as I'm sure I left some things out. This list is also absent a lot of pictures because of two reasons: 1.) Most of the stuff west of Escanaba and Marquette we haven't explored ourselves yet and is on our list for this summer; 2.) If I just posted pictures, why would you need to go experience it for yourselves. I also included some restaurants to stop at along the way!

St. Ignace, MI
Stop 1: Bridge View Park

This beautiful park, created by the Mackinac Bridge Authority, affords a dramatic view up at the Mackinac Bridge and across the Straits to the recreated Fort Michillimackinac. A telescope permits close-up views of bridge details.

Stop 2:Father Marquette National Memorialp

On a rise overlooking the Straits of Mackinac, the Father Marquette National Memorial tells the story of that 17th-century missionary-explorer and the meeting of French and Native American cultures deep in the North American wilderness.

Food Stop 1: Clyde's Drive-In

Located between stops two and three in St. Ignace. Delicious malts, amazing burgers.

Stop 3: Deer Ranch

The Deer Ranch in St. Ignace, Michigan is the oldest live whitetail exhibit in North America, featuring dozens of native Michigan Whitetail Deer and fawns. They have some beautiful all white deer. It's also a blast to feed the deer on the walk!

Stop 4: Mystery Spot

Voted Michigan's No.1 unusual attraction by readers of Michigan Living Magazine (AAA). You will experience optical contradictions and physical sensations that are hard to believe. These phenomenal "happenings" can be photographed.

Stop 5: Brevoort River Swimming

Sorry, no link for this one! A stretch of US-2 that goes right along Lake Michigan. There are some dunes on each side of the road, but on the lake side is a beautiful beach that has some great swimming. There is no lifeguard or official changing area, so swim at your own risk. Parking is on a widened shoulder of the highway.

Stop 6: Cut River Bridge Scenic Lookout

The million dollar bridge over the ten cent river, as it's known up here. Gives some great views though!

Stop 7: GarLyn Zoo

The Zoo is home to hundreds of native North American animals including, alligator, fox, wolves, bobcat, whitetail deer, cougar, river otter, porcupine, bison, also exotic animals from around the world, Siberian tigers, Patagonian cavy, ring-tailed lemur, camel, reindeer, sika deer, sulcata tortoise just to name a few.

Lots of fun! Takes about an hour to go through at a moderate pace. The peacocks roam free and will let you get fairly close for pictures.

Stop 8: Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Established in 1935 as a sanctuary for migratory birds, the refuge contains over 95,000 acres of wilderness. It's a great place to spend some time in nature and do some bird watching. I recently made a thread about a visit there.

Stop 9: Seul Choix Point Lighthouse

A haunted lighthouse on Lake Michigan which marked an important harbor for the fur trade and other lake going vessels. One of the few remaining lighthouses that allow you to climb the tower. Pronounced Sis-shwa.

Here is a map showing this first leg of the journey! Click to show it full size!

More to come!

posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 10:07 AM
Food Stop 2: Three Seasons Cafe

Great food at an affordable price! Located just on the eastern edge of Manistique.

Stop 10: Kitch-iti-kipi aka "Big Springs"

Kitch-iti-kipi or "The Big Spring" is a natural spring that is two hundred feet across and forty feet deep. A steady rate of 10,000 gallons a minute gushing from fissures in the limestone below keeps the temperature of the water at a constant 45 degrees all year. Because of this, the spring never freezes and can be enjoyed any season of the year.

Stop 11: Thompson State Fish Hatchery

Thompson State Fish Hatchery was established in 1922 and was completely renovated in 1978. This facility can produce a wide range of fish species for both inland and Great Lake waters because of its unique water supply. Cold-water species produced at Thompson include: Chinook salmon, steelhead, and brown trout. Walleye fry are the only cool-water specie produced at Thompson.

Stop 12: Fayette Historic State Park

Based around the ghost town of Fayette on the Garden Peninsula. Fayette was a busy industrial town and played a big part in the UP's iron mining operations through its smelting facility. From near the town sheer cliffs of dolomite can be seen rising out of the water. Also near the area is the Garden Wind Farm.

Bonus Stop: Escanaba, on the night of the full moon right before the start of deer season.

Food Stop 3: The Stonehouse & Carport Lounge

Located in Escanaba at the intersection of US-2 and M-35. Awesome food by (artificial) candlelight, but still a very casual place to be with family.

Stop 13: Pine Mountain Ski Jump

The Pine Mountain Ski Jump is known throughout the world as one of the best jumping hills. Every year The Kiwanis Ski Club hosts the best jumping tournament in the United States. Year after year the top jumpers in the world make their way to Pine Mountain to partake in this historic event.

This one is best saved for winter! The tournament normally takes place in February. There is usually a big tailgating party, one that rivals some football games!

Stop 14: World War II Glider and Military Museum

During World War II, the Ford Motor Company's plant in Kingsford built more Model CG-4A gliders for the United States Army than any other company in the nation at much less cost than other manufacturers. The glider featured in this museum is one of only seven fully restored CG-4A World War II gliders in the world.

With this museum are also the Cornish Pump Engine Museum, the largest steam-driven pumping engine ever built in the United States, and the Menominee Range Historical Museum, a historical museum celebrating the region.

Stop 15: Bond Falls

A series of waterfalls located on the Ontonagon River near Paulding. The falls drop about fifty feet, and is the first drop in the river as it makes its way from the western highlands of the UP to the shore of Lake Superior.

Stop 16: The Paulding Light

This one is a night stop! What makes this mysterious light appear nightly? Speculation abounds! It ranges from ghosts to aliens to the mundane (and most likely cause) of headlights. Regardless, still something interesting to see!

Stop 17: Copper Peak

Copper Peak is the only ski flying (they go higher and farther than ski jumping) hill in the western hemisphere. It also boasts the world's largest artificial ski slide. This can be visited all year, with the main attraction for the summer being the Adventure Ride.

The Copper Peak Adventure Ride lets visitors rise to the same heights as the athletes who have flown down the hill in years past. After an 800-foot chair lift ride to the crest of the hill (a 360 foot copper-bearing volcanic outcrop), visitors take a thrilling 18-story elevator to the main observation deck. From there, the truly fearless can walk an additional 8 stories to the top starting gate.

Stop 18: Stormy Kromer Factory Tour

You've seen these hats in movies and on outdoorsmen throughout the midwest. They're more secure and warm than a regular baseball hat!

Out of Michigan Stop: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

So it's technically Wisconsin, but it's not too far out of the way and it would be a shame to miss this one. Within the boundries of the park is 12 miles of shoreline and 21 amazingly beautiful islands. Best to visit if you're into hiking and kayaking or canoeing.

Stop 19: Porcupine Mountains State Park

At around 60,000 acres the "Porkies" are one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in the Midwest. The mountains themselves are actually some of the oldest in the world, though due to the extreme weathering over the millennia they have eroded away. Lots of trails and miles of rivers and streams travel through towering old growth forest. Black bears, moose, wolves, and other wildlife are very common in this area.

Stop 19.5: Lake of the Clouds

Only a half stop because it's within the Porcupine Mountains State Park, but still worth it's own mention.

Surrounded by the silhouettes of the ancient Porcupine Mountains, the Lake of the Clouds is a blue gem amid the thick forests. The Lake of the Clouds is perhaps the most photographed feature in the Porcupine Mountains region. No matter what the season, it is a truly breathtaking sight to behold. The best view of the lake and the surrounding hills is from an easily accessible boardwalk just off 107th Engineers Memorial Highway.

Here is a map showing this leg of the journey! Too many stops for one Google Map, so it's broken up into two unequal parts. Click to show each in full size!

More to come!

posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 10:09 AM
Stop 20: Adventure Mine Copper Mine Tour

While visiting the Copper Country we invite you to experience the best in underground mine tours: a tour through the historic Adventure Copper Mine... We offer four guided underground tours of one of the best preserved copper mines in Michigan. Walk through part or all of the tunnels on the first level or try your hand at rappelling with a rope and harness to the second level of the mine...the choice is yours!

Stop 21: A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum: Michigan's Official State Mineral Museum

A joint venture between University of Michigan and Michigan Tech University, the museum houses minerals that hold cultural significance to the state and Great Lakes region. They have a coppers, irons, gemstones, meteorites, fossils, and more on display.

Stop 22: Quincy Mine and Hoist

Another copper mine, but this one features the world's largest steam hoist and a mile long tram ride to the mine. The tram ride takes you to an adit (used for drainage of the mine originally) which takes you into the seventh level of the mine. Unfortunately, ground water ha seeped in and submerged all lower levels of the mine and they are inaccessible. The Quincy Mine and all of its surrounding land are located within the Keweenaw National Historical Park

Stop 23: Houghton Waterfront Park

This playground got its inspriation from the board game "Chutes and Ladders." I'll just post a picture and you can see how it turned out!

Photo Credit

Stop 24: Brockway Mountain Drive

This section of road climbs the ridge of Brockway Mountain, is about nine miles long, and climbs over 700 feet above the shore of Lake Superior. It's a very beautiful view that affords pristine wilderness on one side and, if the skies are clear, views 50+ miles out onto Lake Superior. From mid-April through mid-June the annual migration of birds of prey flies through the area.

Stop 25: Copper Harbor Lighthouse

This lighhouse tour and boat ride is pretty exceptional. Not only do you get a tour of the oldest lighthouse on Lake Superior, you get a 15 minute boat ride on a "double-ender" hull design boat similar to those used by the lighthouse tenders in the early 20th century.

Stop 26: Estivant Pines

This 508-acre nature sanctuary contains the last remaining virgin white pine forest in Michigan. The trees are 130-150 feet tall and some are estimated to be at least 600 years old.

Stop 27: Coppertown Mining Museum

Very near the Quincy Mine and also located within the Keweenaw National Historical Park, the Coppertown Mining Museum has a variety of exhibits about the copper mining industry and the life associated with it.

Stop 28: Copper Country Firefighters
History Museum

This museum, built in 1898 as a fire-station housing a stable for horses and their fire wagons, now holds over a century of firefighting relics and history. On display are old firetrucks, pumping carts, and more vintage equipment and apparatus.

Stop 29: Mount Arvon

At 1,979 feet Mount Arvon is the highest point above sea level in Michigan. Despite being the highest point, it's technically not a mountain because its summit is less than 2,000 feet above sea level. There isn't much at the top: a picnic table, a fire pit, a mail box, and a view. The mailbox contains a log book for you to sign your name. From there it is a small hike to the peak.

Here is a map showing this part of the journey! It's a lot to do in a small area. Click to show the map in full size!

More to come!

posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 10:12 AM
Stop 30: Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum

The Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum celebrates the history of the Marquette Iron Range. The mine was one of the largest iron mines in Michigan, containing 65 miles of tunnels and running to depths of over 1,300 feet. Today it is one of the best preserved examples of iron mining in the UP.

Stop 31: Michigan Iron Industry Museum

The museum overlooks the site of the first iron forge in the region and has many artifacts about the historical iron mining of the area.

Stop 32: Sugarloaf Mountain

Located just a few miles from downtown Marquette and rising about 1,000 feet above sea level, Sugarloaf Mountain offers three viewing platforms with differing vantage points. One deck faces south towards downtown Marquette and the Superior Dome (aka "Yooper Dome" and largest
wooden dome in the world), a second towards Little Presque Isle, and a third to the west and Hogsback Mountain.

Stop 33: Marquette Maritime Museum

Guided tours of the lighthouse, which is currently an active USCG base. You get to walk the grounds of the base on the way to the lighthouse. The museum tells "a rich rewarding story of the maritime heritage of Marquette and Lake Superior."

Food Stop 4: Lots of great places for dining in and around Marquette! We've been to a handful of them, usually just picking at random, and haven't been let down yet.

Stop 34: Pictured Rocks Cruise

The best way to view the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and offering three different cruises. The regular cruise is approximately two hours and forty minutes and takes you along the shores, giving excellent views the 15 miles of what is one of the most beautiful natural formations in the Great Lakes region. The second tour takes you beyond the regular tour to Spray Falls. This is approximately a three hour tour (hah!). The third tour, the Sunset Tour, takes you along the regular route, but at a time when the rocks are most picturesque. This is the tour I strongly recommend!

Stop 35: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

You've seen it from the water, not venture through it on shore! There is lots to discover in the Lakeshore, which extends 42 miles from Munising all the way to Grand Marais. There are miles of trails and plenty of campgrounds, from rustic to modern, and lots to see. The popular sites are the Miners' Castle overlooks, the Log Slide overlook and sand dunes, the Sand Point Marsh Trail boardwalk, and the Sand Point beach.

Stop 36: Oswald's Bear Ranch

The largest bear only bear ranch in the US, the Oswald's bear Ranch has 29 bears living in four habitats. There are viewing platforms and trails that allow you to view the bears. You can also pet and feed cubs as well as toss apples to the older bears, who will often sit and beg for slices.

Stop 37: Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Two main sections of waterfalls and a couple very nice campgrounds make up Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The Upper Falls are the real treat. They are the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River (the largest are the Niagara Falls), with a drop of 50 feet and over 200 feet wide and a flow rate of more than 50,000 gallons per second. The tannins in the water give the falls a distinct coloring as well. The Lower Falls, about four miles downstream, are a series of five smaller falls flowing around an island. The area was the inspiration for H.W. Longfellow's epic The Song of Hiawatha.

Stop 38: Whitefish Point

At Whitefish Point you'll find the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Light and the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory

The GLSM exhibits artifacts from shipwrecks around Whitefish Point, including the bell from the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The museum also offers a tour of the historic buildings and displays the maritime history of the Great Lakes, the US Coast Guard, and its predecessor the US Life-Saving Service.

The WPBO is managed as a satellite of the Seney National Wildlife Refuge and is a reseach facility used to monitor the annual migrations of over 300 species of birds. It is also the only US-based observatory that is part of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network. A very amazing place to go if you're into bird watching!

Stop 39: Toonerville Trolley and River Boat Tours

There are two tours here. The first, and main tour, is the 6.5 hour trolley and rover boat tour. The trolley is the longest, and one of the oldest, narrow gauge railways in the US, taking you through over five miles of thick forest inhabited by black bears, deer, moose, grey wolves and more. From there you hop on a river boat for a two hour (each way) tour along the Tahquamenon River where you stop and take a short hour long break with a short hike to a private view of the Upper Falls. The second tour is just the trolley ride and takes approximately a hour and a half.

Here is part four of the trip! Click for larger image.

More to come!

posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 10:15 AM
Stop 40: Brimley State Park

One of the oldest of Michigan's State Parks, this park features a modern campground with over 200 sites and a spectacular sandy beach. Just a great spot for some icy swimming in Lake Superior. With a good set of binoculars you can enjoy watching the freighters and other vessels around the Soo Locks.

Stop 41: Round Island Point Nature Preserve **PDF file**

The Round Island Point Nature Preserve is over 1,000 acres in size and provides habitat for black bears, wolves, bobcats, and more. It also lies within a major route for migrating waterfowl and predatory birds. There is a 1.5 mile long nature trail and 9,000 feet of Lake Superior frontage.

Stop 42: Soo Locks

The Soo Locks are a series of locks that have been in operation since 1837. They allow ships to transit between Lake Superior and Lake Huron and the rest of the Great Lakes. They bypass the rapids of the St. Marys River and go through a 21 feet change in elevation. The shipping season, which runs mid-April through late-December each year, sees over 10,000 ships pass through the locks.

One of the attractions of the area is the Soo Lock Boat Tour. They offer lunch and dinner cruises, as well as fireworks cruises for Canada Day and Independence Day. On the cruise you get to experience passing through the Soo Locks alongside the giant Great Lakes freighters ("lakers") and ocean going vessels ("salties"). You also get to pass underneath the Internationa Bridge, which connects the cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Another cool place to see the lakers get real close is Rotary Park (On Google Maps it shows up at "Rotary Park Seaplane Dock"). Here you have awesome views of them up close as they travel the 800 feet wide St. Marys River.

Stop 43: Museum Ship Valley Camp

The Museum Ship Valley Camp gives you the opportunity to hop on a former laker! You can tour not only the deck, the the 20,000 square feet museum within her cargo holds.

Stop 44: Castle Rock

This geological formation rises nearly 200 feet above the shore of Lake Huron, giving spectaular views of the whole Straits area, including Mackinaw Island.

Stop 45: Mackinaw Island

Lots of stuff to do here and very easy, though expensive, to spend a few days. The island is only accessibly by ferry, and with the exception of emergency vehicles, there are no cars on the island.

Visit]Fort Mackinac.
Eat fudge.
Go on a horse-drawn carriage tour.
Eat fudge.
Stay the night at the Grand Hotel, home to the world's largest porch!
Eat fudge.
Go on one of the various ghost walks.
Did I mention eat fudge?
And a lot more! (Mostly fudge.)

Stop 46: Straits State Park

As our journey began on the west side of the Mackinaw Bridge, so it ends on the east side! Enjoy a view from the other side of the bridge and know you had a fulfilling and outstanding vacation.

Here is the last leg of the journey! Click for larger image.

Thanks for enjoying my thread. Hope to see you at some of these places this summer! If you do make any of the stops, be sure to share some pictures!

posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 11:42 AM

If word gets out it won't be so awesome any more!!

posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 11:45 AM
Wow! Thanks a lot!

We haven't been up in this neck of the woods yet.

I'm going to assume it is a good route for motorcycling touring if there's a warm spell?

Looks like we will have a very busy day

posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 11:48 AM
a reply to: TEOTWAIKI

Ever since I was a boy I've wanted to motorcycle around the UP. I don't even like motor cycles. Lots of hills and sweeping curves. Tons of 2 tracks to get lost on.

I always though zipping through the mead paper lands on a motorbike of some sorts would be awesome. A dirt bike would probably be ideal but when it's dry the 2 tracks are nice. It's quite the site to see MILLIONS of trees neatly planted FOR MILES on perfect rows.

posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 01:45 PM
a reply to: mindseye1609

Well, just trying to get enough word out that someone wants to stay permanently. I'm cool with that as long as they buy our house!

a reply to: TEOTWAIKI

Absolutely! Be sure to check out the "Seney Stretch" of M-28. It's actually part of the route I have mapped. It's about 25 miles of just straight road through the Great Manistique Swamp near Seney. No curves, no bends. Nothing. It's the longest stretch of curveless highway east of the Mississippi and often called "Michigan's most boring highway." However, I've been doing 70 mph on there and been blown passed by motorcycles like I was standing still. So, there's that.

The full route I have planned out, if you were to do all the stops, would easily take a few days to a week or so to do. And it's gotten fairly warm up here, though July and August are the hottest months.

a reply to: mindseye1609

Most of the hills and sweeping curves are in the western half along Lake Superior, when you get into the Porcupine and Huron Mountains. The eastern half is mostly flat and swampy.

posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 01:57 PM
a reply to: cmdrkeenkid

If I didn't know better, I would say you wrote this thread just for me.

I have been looking into going up into the UP and doing some exploring. I'm really looking forward to doing some ice fishing on Lake Superior this coming winter. I have heard it is great fishing and lots of places to explore.

Thanks for making this thread.

edit on 15-6-2015 by crappiekat because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 02:15 PM
a reply to: crappiekat

I'm not sure about where on Lake Superior has great ice fishing, but I know that Little Bay de Noc, from where it ends at Rapid River to nearly the mouth at Escanaba, on Lake Michigan usually has an inordinate amount of shanties out on it. Ice is thick enough to drive even full size vehicles on it.

Glad you enjoyed the thread!

posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 07:24 PM
How is your economy up there? I lived in the LP for many years and left due to economic conditions. I ask because the Florida heat is just eating me up and I have considered moving to Colorado, Wyoming, and Michigan. However, there are many questions on each area. I loved the outdoors-man culture and not worrying about a bunch of deadly reptiles as is my current situation. The clear trout streams and rivers, open woods, change of seasons, all are very attracting to me, especially winter sports. Thanks for the thread and your time.

edit on 15/6/15 by spirit_horse because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 16 2015 @ 08:42 PM
a reply to: spirit_horse

It really depends on where you are. A lot of the UP economy comes from mining, logging, and the tourist season. Where we live, in Manistique, is more of a retirement community. The major employer of the area, FutureMark Papers, recently closed. About 147 direct employees were laid off as a result, but it also hit some of the surrounding businesses that relied on the mill. Lately, a lot of the cheaper homes have been being scooped up and repaired to be resold. Some houses in the city are cheap, with a three bedroom, one bathroom fixer-upper home being on the market for $19,000. On the other hand, there are some very well-maintained or recently renovated homes with 4+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, and 2500+ square feet for under $160,000.

A great resource for more information on the UP economy is from the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance. I know that the economy of the Western UP is fairing a bit better than the Eastern half.

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