Visit the Upper Peninsula Michigan
It’s the Upper Peninsula, Michigan. Wild, beautiful and unspoiled natural beauty. This area of Michigan is a great place to explore if you are a lover of natural beauty.
It is a northern playground full of nationally significant wonders, including national forests, historic sites, parks, and even a national lakeshore!
It is a place of pure natural beauty. Home to black bears, other native wildlife, stunning fall colors and virgin white pine. At night the northern light lights it up.
Find out why Michigan’s Upper Peninsula should be on your bucket list. Get started planning your U.P vacation now!
History of the Upper Peninsula
The Upper Peninsula was originally settled by Native Americans. It’s easy to feel connected with nature and history while visiting the Upper Peninsula. This area was once the heartland of U.S. mineral mining and fur trading.
It has a rich history that includes French fur traders who traveled up the St. Marys River to reach the Mississippi, British military and European colonization and a run of copper and iron mines which produced more wealth than California’s Gold Rush.
There are also three large universities here. These institutions draw a diverse and young crowd who are eager to discover the natural beauty of the region.
This history is combined with a beautiful landscape filled with lakes and wildlife, and it’s easy to fall in love with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The U.P. is a large size
Although the peninsula covers almost 30% of Michigan’s landmass (roughly 16,000 sq. miles), it only contains three percent of Michigan’s residents. Yet, there is a strong call to rugged land: U.P travel has more than doubled over the past few years.
The Upper Peninsula is a wonderful place to explore, so it’s not hard to understand why tourism has grown here. Imagine miles upon miles of unspoiled land, from rugged and sandy beaches to high mountains.
Our Michigan guide to Upper Peninsula will help plan your trip and provide all the information you need.
Explore the Upper Peninsula
There are many amazing features to this land: rivers running down waterfalls of every size; lonely lighthouses that stand tall along quiet shorelines, and unique-shaped and colored rock formations that rise high above the azure-striped waters.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a special place. It’s worth exploring and enjoying, as the natural beauty is quite rare.
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is as diverse as its history. We’ve therefore divided our travel information into three sections.
- Eastern Upper Peninsula
- Central Upper Peninsula
- Western Upper Peninsula
Crisp Point Lighthouse
Eastern Upper Peninsula
Most likely, you’ll enter the Upper Peninsula via the iconic Mackinac Bridge. This five-mile suspension bridge spans the area where Lake Huron meets Lake Michigan. Also known as the Straits of Mackinac.
You’ll be leaving the lower peninsula by historic Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel. Mission Point Resort is also on your left.
Cross the Straits Bridge and you will land in St. Ignace. This is the gateway to the Upper Peninsula.
You can see a vastly different landscape from this point in the Eastern part of the Upper Peninsula. The Les Cheneaux islands can be found to the east. These 36 small islands can be found along 12 miles of northern Lake Huron coastline. Boaters and kayakers have enjoyed the Les Cheneaux Islands for many years. You can also go ice fishing here in winter. Sailing over shipwreck in Les Cheneaux Islands
Drummond Island and DeTour Village
DeTour Village is also located further east. Drummond Island, the second largest freshwater islands in the U.S., is another favorite spot. Lonely Planet voted Drummond Island one of the top value travel destinations.
There are hundreds of miles of trails that you can use to ATV, as well as quiet spots for birdwatching and hiking trails. You can also enjoy scuba diving, kayaking and avoiding shipwrecks in the shallow waters of Lake Huron.
Sault Ste. is reached if you travel north across the Mackinac Bridge. Marie and the International Bridge from Canada.
You can find the most popular tourist spot in Michigan by heading northwest across the bridge. Tahquamenon Falls is a pair of waterfalls that are surrounded with white pine forest. The rushing waterfalls are lit by bright displays of fall foliage in the autumn, making it a great spot for a fall tour.
For more information on must-see places in the region, you can refer to our guide for the Eastern U.P..
TIP: Looking for a quiet beach to relax under the sun, or splash on the shoreline? Head west on M2 and follow Lake Michigan shoreline.
Central Upper Peninsula
The U.P.’s central section is just like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There’s so much to do and see.
The stunning Lake Superior coastline is located in the north of the region. It’s home to the renowned Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
This stretch of Lake Superior is home of some of the most popular tourist attractions in the state, including the stunning waterfalls of Bridalveil Falls and the majestic Grand Sable Dunes.
Grand Island National Recreation Area is located just off the Pictured Rocks coastline. It’s worth visiting in the summer and winter, when the strong winds and water create amazing Ice Caves.
Marquette is the largest city in Upper Peninsula. Northern Michigan University is located here. There are many things to do and see in this fast-growing area. It’s also a great place to visit beautiful parks and beaches like Presque Isle or McCarty’s Cove.
You should also visit Marquette’s Black Rocks, which is a spectacular part of the coast. This is a popular spot for cliff jumping, who can dive into the freezing Lake Superior from here.
You should also visit the picturesque Marquette Harbor or Ore Dock, which are both close to downtown.
Kitch-Iti-Kipi is also known as The Big Spring. Kitch–Iti–Kipi is a 40-foot-deep, emerald-green spring located just north of Manistique on the northern Lake Michigan coast.
The best thing? The best part? You can cross it by a hand-operated boat.
It’s another popular spot in Michigan, and it’s located at Palms Book State Park.
More information on things to do in the Central Upper Peninsula can be found here.
Western Upper Peninsula
You won’t need to adjust to the quiet of the Upper Peninsula’s western region.
The Keweenaw Peninsula is home to the Keweenaw National Historic Park, which celebrates the rich copper mining history of the Keweenaw County region. It is located in the northern part of the region, just over the Portage lift bridge.
Copper Harbor’s stunning coastline is located at the tip of the peninsula.
Further west, the Porcupine Mountains can be found along Lake Superior’s shore. It’s a dramatic area: The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness state park is the largest in Michigan.
It covers 6,000 acres of beautiful forests and streams, and it “soarings” up to 2,000 feet. This is quite high for Michigan.
Further west you will find Lake Gogebic which is the largest natural inland lake of the U.P. It is a fishing paradise with more than 300 inches of snow each winter.
You see what we mean? It’s dramatic.
Iron Mountain is located in Dickinson County and was designated a “Michigan Main Street” in 2008. It’s a great spot to visit.
Ski Brule is a popular resort in northern Michigan, located near Iron River. This spot is a perfect destination because of its picturesque surroundings.
You can also enjoy the stunning fall colors in the summer and fall months.
Keweenaw Peninsula, Western UP
Copper Country is the northernmost part of Michigan, and the Keweenaw Peninsula is Copper Country. It was once the largest producer of copper mineral.
The Keweenaw Peninsula is surrounded on three sides and a wild Lake Superior. It features vastly different landscapes, including wide sandy beaches, rushing rivers, waterfalls, and lush forests that are hidden deep beneath the high cliffs.
It’s also the starting point for travel to Isle Royale National Park (a 45-mile-long island in Lake Superior, 56 miles from Michigan’s shoreline).
You could easily create separate tours to explore the area’s beaches, waterfalls and lighthouses. There are so many.
The Keweenaw’s natural beauty is preserved through the four seasons. In the fall, vibrant colors illuminate the peninsula.
The surrounding blue water highlights the green of the trees in spring and summer. In winter, you can still see the beauty of this beautiful spot at the top Michigan.
We are passionate about sharing Michigan’s beauty with you. Follow us to find the best places in Michigan to stay, play, eat, and beach!
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