Michigan’s Northern Peninsula is one of the true hidden gems of the US. Located at one of the most northern points of the country – in fact, it’s more north than parts of Canada – it has a tendency to only be open for half a year, but that half a year is incredible.
That’s because the Northern Peninsula of Michigan is packed with so much to do. From historical towns to old lighthouses, and some of the best national parks in the State – if not the whole of the US – there’s something for everyone here. And if you really want to go during the winter, there’s always the cross-country skiing which many places in the area are famous for. That’s like taking hiking to the next level, and then adding snow!
So, if you’re gripped by the place already but are wondering where exactly to go, here are the best places we’ve found in the Northern Peninsula of Michigan.
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse and Museum
Originally built in 1851, the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse was replaced shortly after in 1871 with the structure you can see today. This includes the red brick exterior, along with the larger light tower. The main attraction of the lighthouse is the fact that it is now owned by the Keweenaw County Historical Society, who have essentially converted the place into a museum.
The museum honors the brave men who worked at the lighthouse station previously, and who helped to save countless lives at sea. There are also several exhibits, including a fully restored 36′ US Coast Guard Motor Life Boat. A good day out in the area if you’re unsure of what else to do.
The lighthouse is open to the public between the months of June and October. The rest of the year it is usually closed due to the bitter cold in the area and awkwardness to access. Adults should expect to pay $5 US, children are free.
Fayette Historic State Park
Located along the southern shore of the Northern Peninsula, this old iron smelting town has been converted into an area of historical interest. The main attraction of the area is the historic townsite, where you’re able to see historic buildings dating back to 1867, tucked within a beautiful piece of lakeside land. You’ll also find yourself surrounded by the forest sceneries which the northern peninsula is so famous for. Perfect for going for an extended walk.
Within the historic town, there are over 20 buildings filled with exhibits and information on what life was like in the smelting town in the late 19th century. There is also a nearby campsite located within the area, complete with full amenities and a nearby beach.
Fort Wilkins Historic State Park
Another historical park located in Copper Harbor. The location is known as such as it was one of the primary places where the ‘Copper Rush’ took place back in the 1840s. Since the 1920s, the area has become a national historical park, being preserved as a way of showing people what life was like back then. Similar to the Fayette Historic State Park, the area is only open to the public during the summer months of June – August.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
As Michigan’s largest state park, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is the best place to head if you’re looking for incredible outdoor views and sceneries. Michigan is one of the USA’s hidden gems when it comes to natural wilderness and the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park shows exactly why.
Being officially open only during the summer months, it’s best to avoid the area during the winter – especially after heavy snowfall. However, if you’re a skier, then the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is great for cross-country skiing.
You can easily spend a week here (and even longer) hiking through the trails and over creeks. There are several campgrounds for you to stop at as well, so you don’t even have to spend the whole time in the same place. Make sure to visit summit peak and look out over the vast wilderness below. Those with a particularly keen eye will be able to spot the sites where copper mines used to exist.
Isle Royale National Park
The Isle Royale National Park is a favorite for those who are looking to get involved in a true wilderness. With some of the best ‘truly wild’ views in the state of Michigan, the landscapes have drawn intrepid travelers and artists alike. Surrounded by Lake Superior, a trip to the island will grant you a true escape from the everyday. This is the USA of mountain men; the USA of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass -except it will be summer time.
There is a daily entrance fee of $7 US attached to admittance to the park, which needs to be paid each day you enter and leave. Also note that the park will be closed during the winter season (November onwards) due to the high levels of snow in the region.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
The north of the US is famous for waterfalls. Ala the Niagara Falls. The Northern Peninsula of Michigan also happens to have a few waterfalls of its own, the most impressive of which are located in the Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Stretching over 13 miles of lush forest, most of the park is completely undeveloped, making it the perfect place to truly feel like an adventurer in a new land.
Enter the Wild One Step at a Time
The Northern Peninsula of Michigan is an incredible place to visit. Of course, you’re not going to be able to rely on public transport like you can in some places in the US, but as long as you can sort out your own transport, then you’ll have access to wonderful wilderness. And of course, once you’ve gotten up there, you no longer need a car because the whole park can be done on foot. So get trekking adventurer. We’ll see you on the other side!