Upper Peninsula of Michigan: The Ultimate Visitors Guide
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is an adventurers paradise. From world class biking to some of the most pristine lake shore trails, the UP does not disappoint. But where are the best of the spots and experiences, when making your way to this remote and lightly populated region? Here we will go over some of our favorite places that you must visit when you make it to the UP
Upper Peninsula of Michigan Bucket List:
Sugar Loaf Mountain is one of the most recognizable mountains and hikes in the UP. Located in Marquette, Sugar Loaf makes the list for its incredible Lake Superior views and easily accessible viewpoints. This one is a can’t miss.
Mount Bohemia - The Upper Peninsula of Michigan Ski Heaven
Are you looking for the Best Midwest Ski Resort? If so, that is Mount Bohemia is the best place to ski in Michigan and the Midwest. Mount Bohemia was recently ranked as a Top USA Ski Resort and with its close proximity to Lake Superior, a yearly receiver of heavy Lake Effect snow.
If you’ve been to the UP and have never visited the “eternal spring” plug in the coordinates and go as soon as possible. Kitchitikipi is one the most majestic springs in the world and if you visit in winter, you will be spoiled with lovely snow topped trees. Here is my Michigan trip planner for the best Kitchitikipi visit.
Eben Ice Caves
The Eben Ice Caves are an Upper Peninsula must see attraction. The water freeze over and creates an impressive formation of ice caves that allow visitors to enter at their own risk. Don’t think you’ll need microspikes for hiking in the caves? You definitely will!
Tahquamenon Falls - Upper Michigan's Best Waterfall
Tahquamenon Falls are one of the best sets of Michigan waterfalls ! The Upper Tahquamenon Falls are extraordinary and the Lower Tahquamenon Falls are awesome as well! For those looking for a challenging Michigan hike, make the trek from the lower to the upper or vice versa.
Pasties - A must try Yooper Meal
You have to have pasty if you’re visiting the UP. No trip or no bucket list is complete without a mention of an Upper Peninsula staple. Pasties are available at many roadside tourist attractions or featured on restaurant menus. Ask around or ask me if you still need some assistance!
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Whether your sign up for a Pictured Rocks Kayaking tour, Pictured Rocks Cruise or do some hiking at Pictured Rocks, you will love your time here. I recommend summer as it’s ideal for a day on the lake. However, aside from just seeing the Pictured Rocks from sea, the hiking and color transformations in fall are ridiculous to experience
Isle Royale - Michigan's Isolated National Park
Isle Royale is situated way, way, way up north. It’s so north and remote that its the least visited National Park in the Park System. The beauty of the isolation is the fact that you probably won’t see a human all day but possibly more encounters with moose. Boats depart from Copper Harbor and take close to 3 hours one way. Find the list of National Parks by state here
Lake of the Clouds
Lake of the Clouds might take the prize as best viewpoint in the UP. Located in the Porcupine Wilderness State Park, Lake of the clouds is phenomenal year round, but arguably best during fall. Don’t miss this one! If you’re going in winter, be aware that the only way to the peak is via snowmobile or hiking. The roads are not plowed and each way is 6 miles.
Marquette - The Upper Peninsula's Largest City
For those planning an Upper Peninsula trip, make sure to include the Upper Peninsula’s largest city, Marquette! From the aforementioned Sugarloaf Mountain to the multiple breweries in town, to gorgeous Lake Superior Shoreline, don’t miss out on this city.
Canyon Falls/Sturgeon River Gorge
The Grand Canyon of the UP aka the Sturgeon River Gorge is a beauty! If you need that Grand Canyon appeal without the hassle of venturing to Arizona, give this scenic spot a go! Its not as grandeur as the Grand Canyon, but it surely will keep your camera clicking.
Pro Tip: Winter is arguably a better time to visit as the gorge creates stunning ice formations that photographers and families will love.
Munising, like Marquette, makes this list because it’s an excellent base for exploring. The city is home to the beginning of your tours for the Shoreline tours and has a close proximity to a number of beautiful waterfalls just in it’s backyard. Find some great coffee, books, and more at this Munising Cafe.
Pro Tip: For the adventurous travelers, bike your way around Grand Island or hire a boat and explore the amazing Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore at your own speed. You won’t regret either
Mackinac Island - Michigan's Best Island
Mackinac Island was rated as one of the top islands to visit in North America and for good reasons. The islands shores are some of the bluest you can find in the states, while the sunsets are some of the most dramatic you can find in Michigan. No cars are allowed on the island which makes transportation limited to bikes and horse drawn carriages!
Pro Tip: Bring a bike and bike the 9 mile exterior island trail to get a sense of how majestic this place is.
Cold Water Swimming
Any trip to the UP must include a dip into any of the Lakes! For the majority of you it will be in Summer, but for the hardcore, POLAR PLUNGE it! Lake Superior is by far the coldest of the lakes and it’s yearly average sits at 45F! Be wary on when you swim, post rainstorm can cause sickness with runoff from streets into the lakes shores.
Copper Harbor - Upper Peninsula Mountain Biking Gem
Are you a mountain biking fan? Copper Harbor is Michigan’s best mountain biking spot for sure. Copper Harbor is located in the top of the UP in the remote Keweenaw Peninsula. Don’t skip this if you are a hardcore mountain biker. Riders will love the challenging single-track complemented by amazing views into the remote lands of the Upper Peninsula
Houghton is the gateway city to the Keweenaw Peninsula and home to Michigan Tech University. Don’t miss this city!
Waterfalls are one of the main reasons visit the Upper Peninsula! There are over 250+ of them so make sure you know where you are going so you can see the most!
Sault St. Marie
The Eastern shores of the Upper Peninsula shouldn’t be overlooked, and that’s where you will find one of the most utilized boating channels in the United States. These straits see boats making the journey all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and vice versa!
Upper Michigan Recap
There are plenty of other things in the Upper Peninsula that could be listed but these are some of my favorites and must experience. Have you been to all of these or are you still working on crossing most of them off of your list?
Looking to base yourself somewhere strategic for your UP adventures? I recommend Marquette, because it’s centrally located and the city itself has some incredible attraction. Need some guidance on where to stay, eat, or drink while in Marquette?
Upper Peninsula of Michigan Road Trip Ideas
Marquette and the Upper Peninsula are surely going to capture your heart whether you visit in spring, summer, or winter. For the folks who don’t like the cold, make your trip in the warmer months but for those who can embrace the bone shattering temperatures, winter is a wonderland.
Thanks for reading and if you have any more that should be included on a Michigan Road Trip, please comment and I can add to the list! See you out there in the UP or somewhere else in this world.