1. Lake Superior is beautiful…but dangerous.
Storms on Lake Superior are so strong at times that the waves they produce capsize ore boats. This past November, researchers found the remains of one that went missing in 1913. I have to admit, it is quite a sight to see the large ships approach the landing docks and unload the ore.
2. The cliffs are amazeballs.
Much like the Maroon Bells of Aspen Colorado, Pictured Rocks in Munising, Michigan is probably the most photographed area in the Upper Peninsula. This area spans 42 miles along the south side of Lake Superior’s shoreline. It is another great place to check out some of the many waterfalls, cliffs, and beaches that the U.P. offers.
3. There are waterfalls around every corner in the Upper Peninsula.
This is Scott Falls. The U.P. is home to all but one of Michigan’s waterfalls. There are more than 300 falls scattered across the U.P., ranging in size from under 5 feet to 48+ feet. Dead River Falls, in Marquette, Michigan is one of my favorite waterfalls to hike to. There are great jumping spots and swimming holes along the falls. Perfect way to spend a nice summer day.
4. The animals in the U.P. will blow you away.
Whether it is moose, bear, beavers, or birds, there is no need to leave the country for some of the most spectacular wildlife viewing in the country. Van Riper State Park in the eastern Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Seney National Wildlife Refuge offer the best chances of seeing moose. This was taken in Raco, Michigan, near the Canadian border.
5. Outdoor sports are some of the best in the nation.
Kayaking, hiking, skiing, snowboading, snow shoeing, snow mobiling, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting…the list goes on and on. The U.P. has four distinct seasons with tons of outdoor fun to be had. Mt. Bohemia located in Mohawk, Michigan is one of my favorite year round places to visit. The mountain has over 84 trails to snowboard, and its lake Lac Labelle is one of the best places to camp and kayak in the summer.
6. Did I mention how awesome the hiking is?
The UP has a gazillion hiking trails. Trails alongside cliffs, up waterfalls, out to lighthouses, and up the sides of mountains. One of my favorite mountain trails is up Sugarloaf Mountain in Marquette County. It is a great hike that doesn’t take much time. Not to mention the best view when you arrive at the top. It overlooks Lake Superior, and on a clear day you can see for miles.
7. This is one of the scariest bridges in the world.
On a calm day, the water under Michigan’s famous Mackinac bridge looks as if you are driving the bridges that connect the Florida Keys. On a rough day, it shakes and rolls, and you can even request someone from the bridge authority to drive your car for you.
Bonus tip: If you have some time, just after the bridge to the east, take the ferry to another one of Michigan’s famous places, Mackinac Island.
8. Marquette’s marina is simply heaven in the summer.
I can’t imagine a better way to tour the U.P. than on a sailboat on Lake Superior. As locals know, this marina in Marquette is a nice place to rent a sailboat, take a stroll, have a picnic, or enjoy one of many festivals throughout the summer.
One of my favorites is the 4th of July Festival—a break wall and an ore dock just beyond the marina are where a fireworks show happens every year. But make sure you take a nap beforehand, because it gets darker much later in the summer in the U.P.
9. Fall is cold, but so beautiful you don’t even care.
There is no place like the U.P. to experience autumn. And the Porcupine Mountains never disappoint! Peak fall color season is typically the last week of September and the first two weeks of October.
10. Pasties are the single best delicacy on earth.
Locals know that pasties (pah-stees) are a must try. Originally created as a quick and easy warm meal for the local coal miners, the pasty has quickly become a U.P. delicacy. These little meat filled pie-like gems can be found in shops all over the U.P.
11. People in the U.P. are great about battling through the winter.
It is not uncommon for Northern Michigan to break snowfall records from year to year. This year alone, the U.P. received close to 400” of snow up from just over 350” last year. It is also not uncommon to see a Yooper shoveling snow off of their roofs with a ‘yooper scooper’ (or shovel as the rest of you call them) after a major snowstorm. They do this because the weight of the snow has been known to cause a roof to collapse. Yikes!
It’s not uncommon to see Northern Michigan students jumping off their roofs into the snow.
12. Everyone knows the U.P. sky is better than yours.
You don’t have to fly halfway around the world to see the Northern Lights. Michigan’s U.P., also referred to as ‘The Top of the World’ is home to the Aurora Borealis Northern Lights. The best places to see these lights are Marquette and the Keweenaw Peninsula.
13. Parking is a breeze in the winter.
With over 6,500 groomed trails that span from lower Michigan to the the U.P., it is no wonder that snowmobiling is a favorite hobby of the Yooper. Snowmobile seasons begins on December 1-March 31st. One of the best things about snowmobiling is all of the little towns, restaurants, and lake that are connected by the trails. Leaving for an entire weekend on a snowmobile is a frequent occurrence in the U.P.
14. Lighthouses never get old.
Out of the 250 lighthouses in Michigan, 40 of them are located in the U.P. You can get to many of them with just a nice walk, but some can be better seen with a boat ride. One of my favorites is located in Big Bay, Michigan. And if you have time, just before the lighthouse in Big Bay is the restaurant Thunder Bay Inn where the 1959 movie Anatomy of a Murder was filmed (and they have great grilled whitefish).
15. There’s lots of different fish. Some bite.
According to the U.P. Department of Natural Resources, there are over 78 species of fish that swim Lake Superior’s 31,700 square miles. Of all of these species, the Northern Pike is the largest and can be the most aggressive. In fact, never wear jewelry while swimming in this lake, because this fish likes shiny objects.
16. Upper Peninsula breweries are really booming now.
There are over 13 breweries in the U.P., ranging from the Brickside Brewery in Copper Harbor to the Vierling in Marquette Harbor. They all have a ‘down home’ feel with a long list of special brews. I recommend trying the Blueberry Wheat, (it contains actual blueberries), from the Vierling Brewery.
17. The tallest mountain in the U.P. isn’t very tall.
The tallest peak in the U.P. (and entire state of Michigan) is located in the Huron Mountain chain: Mt. Arvon. This peak stands 1,979’ tall and is a great overlook spot for Lake Superior. To get to Michigan’s highest natural point, you have to travel to L’anse Township in Baraga County.
18. The lakes are so big they cross time zones.
With over 4,300 inland lakes, it’s no wonder the U.P. is considered in outdoor lovers paradise. The largest of these lakes is Lake Gogebic, located in the Ottawa National Forest. Don’t get caught out past your curfew on this lake, it’s so large that it splits the central and eastern time zones.
19. There are more Packer fans than Lion fans up here.
According to Dunham Sports in Marquette, people buy lots of Green Bay and Detroit jerseys. But, if you ask the local U.P. watering holes, Packer fans seem to outnumber Lions.
At Northern Michigan University, the yellow Packer sweats are considered classroom couture on opening weekend. I know from experience.
20. And of course, everyone loves hockey.
Whether it is on a frozen pond with a broom and a rock or an indoor ice rink with an actual hockey stick and a puck, Yoopers love their hockey. Fortunately, U.P. hockey lovers can catch both Northern Michigan University hockey and Michigan Tech hockey (both Division I) games.
21. Beware, there are trolls under the bridge.
To combat the Yooper nickname given to them by lower Michigan, they ‘lightheartedly’ refer to the residents that live south of the Mackinac Bridge ‘the trolls under the bridge’. But don’t worry about a troll encounter while visiting the U.P., there are plenty of troll traps (ice cream stands) just north of the bridge.
22. Dog sled racing is pretty slick up here.
The Upper Peninsula is a favorite for dog mushers from around the country. They say that although the courses are challenging, they love the beautiful trails, and are impressed with the cheering crowds. The U.P. has three major dog sled races each year: The UP 200, The Midnight Run, and the JackPine 30.