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Reasons Why You Should Visit Upper Michigan? Are you a nature lover and looking for a gateway within the United States? Start packing. What I am about to show you will make you want to leave right this minute. Still undiscovered, a real gem on a map of the United States, Upper Peninsula Michigan offers unforgettable adventures through all four seasons. 10 reasons why you will fall in love with UP!
10 Reasons why you should visit Upper Michigan
- Crossing Mackinac Bridge
When traveling to the UP you are most likely to drive your car from the Lower Peninsula. To get to the UP you will need to cross the Mackinac Bridge, which is certainly an attraction on its own. The longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere spawns across lakes Michigan and Huron. Each year, since 1958, on Labor Day between 20,000 and 60,000 people cross the bridge in the Annual Bridge Walk. If you are not there in September, worry not – the views from the bridge are breath-taking during the whole year.
- Biking around Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is only available by ferry, and especially popular in summer months. Surrounded by water, limited to transportation by horse-carriages, bicycle, or foot, it seems to be stopped in time. You can circle the island via M-185, an 8 miles (12 kilometers) long non-motorized highway which provides views of Michigan peninsulas and both lakes. Best enjoyed by bike, that can be rented on the island.
Source: own photo
- Chasing waterfalls
UP is home to over 300 waterfalls. From the famous Tahquamenon Falls, that given a name to a state park that offers some of the best camping in the state, ideal for wildlife sighting and enjoying a pint in the on-site brewpub, to the abundance of waterfalls in the Munising area, everyone can find their personal favorite all year round.
Tahquamenon Falls, source: wikimedia.commons
The Munising area is home to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a scenic area off the shores of Lake Superior known for its sandstone cliffs, white beaches and dunes, forests, and unique wildlife. Give a chance to sea kayaking, rent a pontoon, or take a boat trip offered by many companies. Fall colors in the forest never disappoint, take a scenic drive and enjoy the multi-colored trees, or try back-country camping to wake up in the fall paradise. In the winter try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and ice climbing.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
- Observing fall foliage
Pictured Rocks are not the only place where fall colors can be seen. The Upper Peninsula accounts for only 29 percent of Michigan’s area but has 45 percent of the forests. There are countless colors Tours to take, for example, this one. The colors at the UP peak at the end of September and in early October. Don’t miss the chance to see this Mother’s Nature beauty.
- Climbing ice during Michigan Ice Fest
Not so well known, but well worth a visit, Michigan Ice Fest is held at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and is one of the oldest festivals of this kind in the US. UP is a home of some of the largest concentrations of ice dropping right into Lake Superior, providing a perfect hiking opportunity for professionals and amateurs alike. If you’re a climber or fancy yourself as one, this event is a must on your bucket list!
- Exploring the Porcupine Mountains
Just on the border with Wisconsin, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park amazes with the views and trails to wander. Located on the shore of Lake Superior, in winter the area offers some of the best skiing in the Midwest, with unforgettable views of the lake while skiing down the hill. The ski resort offers 40 hectares of trails, suitable for all ability levels.
- Hiking in the Isle Royale National Park
The only National Park in Michigan and one of the least visited in the US, the Isle Royale National Park offers real solitude and adventures for hikers, water sport enthusiasts, and scuba divers. The island and the 450 surrounding smaller islands and waters make up the park, which is also famous for smaller inland lakes. Reachable from two cities in the UP (Houghton and Cooper Harbour).
Source: Wikimedia Commons
- Eating pasties, fresh fish, and wild berries
Once you have done all the climbing, hiking, biking, and boating it is time to eat, and UP’s specialties are not ones to miss. Especially delicious are the pasties, brought there by settlers from Cornwall, England, made with minced meat and root vegetables. Those who live through UP’s long winters have always turned to native plants, fish, and wildlife to sustain themselves. The Upper Peninsula is known for the diversity of white fish fresh from Lake Superior. Thimbleberry jam or any pastry filled with it will satisfy every sweet tooth.
- Stargazing and Northern Lights
Did you think you need to go all the way to Iceland or Norway to see the Aurora Borealis? Not many people know that they can be seen in UP Michigan, the peak months being April, October, and November. Thanks to its latitude and minimal light pollution UP is a dream come true for northern lights enthusiasts. The farther north you go, the more likely you’ll see them, anywhere along the south shore of Lake Superior is optimal. Choose a clear, cold night without snow in the weather forecast, bring a lawn chair, thick blanket, hot tea and ENJOY!
You have the itinerary right in front of you, take your best hiking shoes, and welcome to Upper Peninsula Michigan!