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The upper Michigan peninsula has no shortage of historic lighthouses. We’ve come up with our five absolute favorite Upper Michigan Lighthouses for you to add to your travel bucket list.
No idea which lighthouse you should visit on your trip to Michigan? Why not see them all? Turn your next vacation into a historical road trip and truly appreciate all that upper Michigan has to offer.
Why you need to see these lighthouses in Upper Michigan
The lighthouses on the list below are all unique in their own way and worth visiting. If you’re looking for an even bigger selection why not check out this handy post to guide you. We especially recommend the scenic boat tours offered along the coast of Lake Superior which will let you see multiple lighthouses from the water. The perfect family weekend trip.
5 Upper Michigan Lighthouses That Are Worth The Drive
Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state in the US. This comes as no surprise if you consider Michigan’s vast stretches of coastline along Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Lighthouses were and still are essential for keeping sailors safe and letting vessels navigate the lakes.
Historic lighthouses in Michigan and their meaning
Many of the lighthouses still in existence today originate from the early to mid-1800s when trading and local industries began to rely heavily on transport via the water. Safe navigation along the Great Lakes became essential. With the majority of the hand-operated lights having been replaced by modernized and automated ones, many of the historic lighthouses still serve as guiding beacons today.
Michigan appreciates its historic lighthouses and is the only state that actively supports lighthouse preservation with annual grants. Still many of the historic lighthouses struggle to finance large-scale renovations which is why tourism plays such a large role in the area. By visiting and paying an entrance fee you support the upkeep of these old buildings and their restoration.
Are any of the lighthouses in Michigan haunted?
Considering how old the majority of the lighthouses in Upper Michigan are it comes as no surprise that many of them are considered to be haunted. Tourists and locals alike report strange occurrences and unexplained events every year which has made the lighthouses a popular ghost hunting destination.
Some of the most famous haunted lighthouses in Upper Michigan include Eagle Harbor Lighthouse where visitors might encounter the faceless man who is said to be roaming the grounds. Another great example is Waugoshance Lighthouse which is known for its pranking ghost that tends to play tricks on people staying there.
Then there is Big Bay Point Lighthouse which operates as a Bed and Breakfast. If you’re brave enough you can spend the night here and find out for yourself if the ghost stories are true. According to locals, the former lightkeeper’s spirit is still trapped in the old buildings and you can hear him walking around at night. Definitely not a vacation for the faint of heart.
Lastly, there is the famous Seul Choix Point Lighthouse which is number 5 on the list below. Definitely don’t miss out on this one!
5 Lighthouses on the Upper Michigan peninsula
1. Whitefish Point Lighthouse
Whitefish Point Lighthouse is located on the southeast end of Lake Superior on the Upper Michigan peninsula. It is often considered one of the most important lighthouses in the area as every ship entering Lake Superior must pass it.
Established in 1849, this historic lighthouse has a rich history and is the location of a shipwreck museum which was opened in 1987. Lake Superior’s shipwreck coast is known for its treacherous coastline and harsh weather conditions which made Whitefish Point Lighthouse even more significant. As the oldest operating lighthouse on the lake, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
If you’re keen on learning more about this fascinating place make sure to visit the Shipwreck Museum which offers guided tours of the lighthouse and its surrounding buildings for an entrance fee of 13$ (9$ for children). Whitefish Point lighthouse is the perfect way to combine stunning nature and learn about Michigan’s history at the same time.
Find out up-to-date information on visiting Whitefish Point Lighthouse here.
2. Copper Harbor Lighthouse
Copper Harbor Lighthouse sits on the Keweenaw Peninsula close to the little town of Copper Harbor. Located inside Fort Wilkins Historic State Park it is a Michigan State Historic Site and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The original lighthouse tower of Copper Harbor Lighthouse was constructed in 1848 but had to be replaced in 1866. The historic keeper’s house still stands nearby today. Until recently the lighthouse was open to the public and could be visited. However, although the lighthouse sits on state park land the passageway is situated on private land which means the general public is no longer allowed to visit the lighthouse. If you’re still curious about this historic place we highly recommend taking a guided kayak tour to view this lighthouse from the water.
Find out more information on how to visit the Copper Harbor Lighthouse here.
3. Crisp Point lighthouse
Crisp Point Lighthouse lies 14 miles west of Whitefish Point and Whitefish Point Lighthouse. Its name originates from one of its former lighthouse keepers named Christopher Crisp who was said to have been an “iron-willed boatman”.
At a height of 58 feet, this is one of the most recognizable lighthouses in the area. Today the Crisp Point Light Historical Society owns the Crisp Point Lighthouse. This non-profit dedicates its funds to restoring and preserving the lighthouse. Built in 1875, many of its original buildings are still intact and are a favorite weekend destination for tourists. The lighthouse has a small museum and a visitors center which makes it an ideal day trip location.
4. Point Iroquois lighthouse
Point Iroquois Lighthouse dates back to the 1850s and one of the most famous historic lighthouses in upper Michigan. Historically its location was very significant as it marked the entrance to St. Mary’s River from Lake Superior which was one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world at the time.
In 1870 the wooden structures of the lighthouse and its surrounding buildings had to be replaced by more sturdy brick structures. These still stand today and now house a Maritime Museum. Visitors can climb to the top of the former lighthouse during the summer months and enjoy exhibits of how life used to be like as a lightkeeper.
Learn more about how to visit Point Iroquois Lighthouse here.
5. Seul Choix Point lighthouse
Unlike the previous four lighthouses on this list, Seul Choix Point Lighthouse sits on Lake Michigan and not Lake Superior. The lighthouse is still fully functional today but uses an automated light instead of a hand-operated one.
If haunted places and unexplained phenomena spark your interest then this is the place for you to go. The lighthouse has been in operation since 1892 and many visitors and employees at the historic site have reported strange occurrences such as unexplained footsteps, objects moving at random as well as the smell of cigars. Many believe that the original keepers still inhabit the lighthouse in the form of spirits. You can visit the lighthouse and go ghost hunting during the summer months.
Find out more about booking a guided tour to Seul Choix Point Lighthouse here.