Tahquamenon Falls Pano

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – Spectacular Lodging & 7 Unforgettable Events and Attractions

Did you know that Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP) plays host to one of the oldest cities in the United States? Sault Ste. Marie was founded by French traders and missionaries in 1668. The “Soo” is the fourteenth oldest city in the US. In the present, when everything seems to connect, the UP seems a world apart. It showcases a beautiful mix of ever-changing natural surroundings with a forested region. It also has three major lakes that make a spectacular view. Lake Superior is to the north, while Lake Michigan and Huron cover much of the south.

Who Lives in the UP?

The residents or Yoopers from the word UP-ers have a distinct culture and strong regional identity. It comes from the history and physical separation of the area. There is a foundational mix of different languages, cultures, traditions, and foods. It results from the Native Americans, French Canadians, Finnish, and Cornish copper miners living and working together in the deep snow and forests for years. 

Experiencing the Upper Peninsula involves attending the events, seeing the attractions, and living among the people. You can take some time out and get a place to stay whatever the season. The best auto transport companies can also ship your car if it comes to that, so you can easily access the sites.

The Attractions of Michigan’s Upper Penninsula

The beauty of the Upper Peninsula is that it offers distinct options within each of the four seasons. In the summer, the temperatures are high enough for you to enjoy swimming. However, it is just for a short time. Summer comes in slow and fades quickly. Fall is breathtaking! There are numerous colors to behold as the leaves change color. 

Winter attracts skiers and people who want to experience ice-fishing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling. Spring is a sight to behold as the vegetation comes back to life and the animals come out of hibernation. It is the perfect time to get Morel Mushrooms if you know where to look. These delicacies have lots of antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals. They also have a nutty, earthy taste that is exquisite and adds flavor to your dishes.

There is so much to see all year round. Here are a few more attractions you need to experience in the UP.

Tahquamenon Falls

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is one of Michigan’s most beautiful parks. The State Park has many well-kept hiking trails. There are several fall viewing areas along the river and infographics about these unique falls and the tannon-colored water. Upper Falls (from our featured image) is one of the most outstanding waterfalls east of the Mississippi. It has a nearly 50-foot descent and spans more than 200 feet across.

Mackinac Island Lilac Festival

The festival celebrates the history and uniqueness of Mackinac Island under the beauty of the lilacs. It is a 10-day event with music, food, and flora. Apart from the festival, you can enjoy kayaking, horse-drawn carriages, and golfing. You should start here if you are a first-timer to the UP. It will give you a good foundation before you head out into the woods.

The Lake of the Clouds

Lake of the Clouds - Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Lake of the Clouds – Porcupine Mountains

The lake lies in a valley between two ridges in the Porcupine Mountains. It is like a blue gem in the middle of lush forests. Few visitors to the Upper Peninsula return home without snapshots of this beautiful scenery. In late summer and early spring, the forest bursts into a diverse palette of colors. There are yellows, oranges, and reds in addition to the mirror-blue color of the lake’s waters.

You can also do some bass fishing on the Lake of the Clouds. However, it is catch-and-release only. You can fish on the shore or use waders since there are no boat rentals. But if you need to use a boat, you can carry a light watercraft if you have access to one. You will only need to hike with it for three-quarters of a mile to the lake.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Alex West
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

The sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, inland lakes, beaches, dunes, and deep forests are a sight to behold. The area is on Lake Superior and allows you the opportunity to sightsee, hike, and camp. In the spring, wildflowers carpet the trails, and in the summer, you can bask on the shorelines. In the fall, you can enjoy the different hues that signal the changes of the season. The snow in winter does not take away its beauty but offers various facets of it. 

Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival

The unique wintery climate of the Upper Peninsula offers an opportunity to celebrate the large amounts of snowfall. The winter carnival in Houghton, Michigan, is an event featuring diverse activities that take advantage of the snow. It consists of outdoor games and sleigh rides. It also has ice and snow sculptures that are intricate and beautiful. The participants use various tools to come up with the best artwork. Some even use power saws to make their pieces.

The UP 200 Dog Sled Race

Dog Sledding

Dog Sledding or mushing races happen in the winter and are an event you will not want to miss. The UP 200 dog sled race covers approximately 228 miles from Marquette to Grand Marais, with a return to Marquette along the same trail. Enjoy hot cocoa or a barbecue by the fire while watching the race. You can also enjoy and take the family on a dogsled ride courtesy of Nature’s Kennel Iditarod Sled Dog Racing and Adventures.

Enjoy Wildlife

Isle Royale Bull Moose
Isle Royale Bull Moose

The UP has diverse wildlife. These include shrews, moose, white-tailed deer, red foxes, chipmunks, wolves, and black bears. You can visit Oswald’s Bear Ranch from Memorial Day to before their migration time in September. The ranch is a home for mature bears and orphaned cubs that cannot go into the wild. It offers them a home where they can be safe all year round. The entry fees go towards facilitating rescues and food for the bears.

The Lodgings

During your stay, you will need a place to rest and sleep. The area has some of the best lodgings, cottages, cabins, campgrounds, hotels, and vacation rentals. You can also get some that are pet friendly.

Keweenaw Mountain Lodge

The lodge has a rich history and endless natural wonders. It rests on the top of Keweenaw Mountain and dates back to 1934. There are cabins where you can relax and a six-room hotel. There is also plenty of space outside to enjoy the beautiful getaway.

23 Cabins of the Porcupine Mountain State Park

A wintry scene is shown from the Mirror Lake Cabin at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. (Dave Braithwaite photo) – Michigan Department of Natural Resources

These are ideal locations for your wilderness Michigan vacations. The quaint rustic cabins can be found on the Porcupine Mountains’ shores. The faint smell of woodsmoke wafts from the small metal stove in the corner, and a neat stack of dry firewood towers to its side. The scuffed wooden floor supports several bunk beds and a small, well-worn wooden table. After a cup of coffee, you set out on the trail, searching for a moose or an eagle.

The Rock Harbor Lodge at Isle Royale National Park

Rock Harbor Lodge
Rock Harbor Lodge, Isle Royale National Park

Experience the Northwoods at remote Isle Royale National Park in northwestern Lake Superior. Isle Royale, one of the least visited National Parks, can only be reached by boat or seaplane. 

Visitors to this one-of-a-kind National Park can stay at Rock Harbor Lodge. The  Lodge offers housekeeping cottages, traditional lodge rooms, a dining room, snack bar, gift shop, dockside store, marina, rental motor boats, kayaks and canoes, and guided fishing and sightseeing tours.

Visitors don’t have to camp to enjoy this natural wilderness. Stay at the Lodge and venture out and explore the numerous marked trails. Grab a canoe and investigate Passage Island and Rock Harbor Lighthouses by boat, hike to scenic lookout points, or visit an ancient copper mine.

Final Thoughts on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Attractions

The Upper Peninsula has so much to offer. Make sure you enjoy and delve into the culture of the Yoopers as much as possible. They take great pride in it. It is quite an experience.

Avatar of Paul Austin

Paul Austin

Paul is a noted freelance writer with hundreds of articles online and in print. His most recent project is cataloging unique events in Michigan History. You can find more of his work at Michigan 4 You.

View all posts by Paul Austin →

What do you think?