Michigan’s Wilderness: The Upper Peninsula

Two Trolls Visiting Yooper Territory

Were you able to take some time to travel during Labor Day Weekend? For the first time in 5 years I was able to be released from my journalistic duties to enjoy doing something strictly for myself.

Great LakesMy other half has been itching for a trip into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for quite some time, and we figured the weekend would be a great chance to enjoy some sights and (hopefully) see some auroras thanks to the severe lack of light pollution. Plus, it is most likely the last really nice weekend we will see until next year. So we took a gamble and drove up, praying the crowds wouldn’t be so bad once we crossed Mackinac Bridge.

For those of you who aren’t from Michigan and are reading this post, here’s a quick lesson: as you learned in geography class, the state has two pieces. Those from the Lower Peninsula are sometimes referred to as Trolls, while those from the Upper Peninsula (or U.P.) are called Yoopers. The two areas are connected by the Mackinac Bridge via Mackinaw City (yes, they are spelled differently, but are pronounced as the latter) to the south, St. Ignace to the north, Lake Michigan to the west and Lake Huron to the east.

Each Labor Day, upwards of 40,000 people partake in the annual bridge walk tradition, walking the 5 miles from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City. We walked across it last year, but decided to pass this year.

While the Lower Peninsula (we never say L.P.) is highly populated, the U.P. is mostly wilderness and high elevations, with a few small cities scattered miles apart.

Get it? Got it? Good!

We chose to stay in Mackinaw City the first evening and just enjoy the town, walking the streets, taking in the lake shore.

Mackinac BridgeAlthough hazy due to humidity, the day was warm and breezy. A great day to spend outdoors. We were able to get quite a few good pictures during the day and also at sunset.

The U.P. also has dozens of waterfalls of all sizes. One of the most popular, and one of the largest, is Tahquamenon Falls (say that three times fast). There is a lower and upper falls lookout area, but due to crowds we chose to only see the upper.

(Photo by Justin McKee)

(Photo by Justin McKee)

Tahquamenon Falls3The falls are quite a sight!

We also spent a lot of time in Munising, up by Lake Superior. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as we had hoped. The city was packed with people, and all lodging sold out within an hour’s drive. Our plans had to be cancelled, but we were able to visit Munising Falls.

Munising Falls

From a number of lookout points along the lake shore, we could see the Pictured Rocks.

Pictured RocksMiner’s Castle is another sight to see, along with the beauty of the clear water.

Miner's CastlePure Michigan, indeed. Doesn’t it look almost like tropical water? I love it. Too bad it’s not nearly as warm…

Due to the lack of accommodations and impending bad weather, we decided to call it a weekend, stay overnight once again in the shadow of the Mackinac Bridge (surprisingly, we found a room for cheap) and head home a day early. It wasn’t exactly a smooth weekend, but I guess it was our fault for being spontaneous during one of the busiest travel times of the year.

It’s hard to believe I haven’t been north of St. Ignance in about 20 years, give or take. Geez, I’m old. It’s not exactly my cup of tea to travel there every year, but it should be seen at least once in your life. And there’s plenty more to see and experience: Mackinac Island, Copper Harbor, lighthouses, the Soo Locks, Porcupine Mountains, shipwreck glass-bottom boat tours, and more.

And that’s just the U.P.


About Karin

Journalist, singer, reader, movie fanatic, photography buff, GVSU alum, wanna-be-Brit, Crohn's fighter, Coca-Cola addict, animal lover, not a kid person, hater of winter, Michigander
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6 Responses to Michigan’s Wilderness: The Upper Peninsula

  1. Laura Rhoades says:

    Beautiful pictures! Hoping to venture up there next summer with my girls.

  2. Nicole says:

    I have really been feeling like I need to explore more of Michigan – it doesn’t seem like I saw that much while I lived there… And even though I know it, I never really thought about the Mackinac/Mackinaw thing before – weird. 🙂

  3. Martha says:

    Go in Autumn. Bill & I did our honeymoon there, in October, when it truly was peak for colors, and there were no crowds… Tourist season was over by then. Also got discount rates on hotels, etc. Even Mackinac Island was wonderful then… practically had it to ourselves, except for locals, and received extra special attention on carriage rides, etc. The Fall is now our favorite time to travel to the U.P. to hike, explore, and just truly enjoy! So much to do in Michigan….year round!

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