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  1. Default 2 week trip/MI WI

    hey guys, my gf and I are planning a two week long road trip in the first two weeks of July. Right now we are tentatively planning for MI's Upper peninsula. Our first stop will be the soo locks, then spend a few days camping in pictured rocks, and then everything else is up in the air.

    We are planning to leave on Saturday, the 28th of June, from the DC area. We can hustle and get to Soo locks by Sunday, and then maybe spend the entire day Monday there. Possibly reach Pictured Rocks by Tuesday, and spend a couple of nights camping there.

    After this, what do the Gurus suggest? we will enjoy nature-y stuff, neat museums, towns, or very random stuff. We do have a decent amount of time, so all suggestions welcome! We also don't mind heading into Wisconsin, from UP.
    Last edited by dinesh75; 06-17-2014 at 01:01 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Only Slightly Farther Afield

    Quote Originally Posted by dinesh75
    We also don't mind heading into Wisconsin.
    Well, that's going to win friends and influence people here! As someone with many, many family connections to Wisconsin, and who has visited there many times, I will suggest that you look into the following at least: Peshtigo, where on the same night as the Chicago Fire, there was an even bigger fire with greater destruction and more loss of life; Door County, the peninsula that sticks out between Green Bay (the body of water) and Lake Michigan; Harry Houdini's hometown (and museum) in Appleton; The Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh); and that's all without venturing beyond the Fox River Valley. While in the UP, you should make the effort to take the passenger ferry over to Mackinac Island State Park and walk around, as well as at least cross the bridge to Colonial Michilimackinac State Historical Park in Mackinaw City. You could also venture west a bit into Wisconsin's (Oh no!) section of Lake Superior and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.


  3. Default

    haha, I don't mean to say that I am reluctant to go to WI. I do love that state and find it very scenic. btw, I have spent 3 nights in Apostle Islands, so will skip that this time.

    so just curious, given the start point (DC) time frame (2 weeks) and our drive radius (roughly 1000 miles), is there any other place you recommend that we drive to? Our trip is completely flexible and we enjoy nature, history, and any other quirky stops. The reason we picked the UP was that in summer, the weather is gorgeous there, that's all. So feel free to just give us some ideas other than those two states, we can change our plans at the drop of a hat!

    Thanks so much!

  4. #4

    Default Huron Mountains, Copper Country

    Hello dinesh75,

    Good to know you're headed for the UP. In October 2013 I visited Copper Country and the Iron Mountain/Crystal Falls area for the first time in 30 years. Wife and I had spent the ice-out seasons of 1981 and 1982 in Crystal Falls leading a mineral exploration crew. We really like the UP.

    Anyway, not far west of Marquette, which is not far west of Munising/Pictured Rocks, are the Huron Mountains, a series of low, glacially-rounded hills with elevations around 1,400' above Lake Superior. A public road along the Superior shore leads to a dead-end at Big Bay, where the famous (infamous?) Huron Mountain Club's property begins. From the Champion, MI area, the Peshekee River road cuts northwest through the southern Huron Mountains, through old railroad cuts through the bedrock, and emerges at Skanee, near the mouth of the Huron River, itself on the Lake Superior shore. Look on the maps for a narrow finger of land protruding into Superior named Point Abbaye. This peninsula is a narrow finger of Jacobsville sandstone and conglomerate and can be driven in a conventional automobile all the way to within a half-mile or so of the tip. High clearance vehicles can make it all the way out. At the tip, views of the Huron Islands, the Huron Mountains, and the rocky ridgeline of the Keweenaw Peninsula are within the 270 degree view range, and the sandstone outcrops on the shore are visually striking.

    Dropping south through L'Anse and on up to Houghton, you'll find a vibrant and liberal college town, the home of Michgan Tech University. Houghton, Hancock, and the entire Keweenaw are bastions of Finnish culture, as well. The mining history is revered and very well preserved with deep underground tours of native copper mines near Hancock. The Brockway Mountain drive near the tip, close to Copper Harbor, provides views of Superior, Point Abbaye, the Huron Islands, and the Huron Mountains.

    Departing Copper Country to the south, you can take US 41 back through L'Anse to US 141, thence south from Covington on 141 to Crystal Falls, Iron Mountain, and on to the Lake Michigan shore area at Escanaba. The drive from Covington to Crystal Falls is delightful, being comprised of some 40 miles of forest, low mountains, streams, and lakes. US 2 closely follows the northern tip of Lake Michigan all the way back to St Ignace and the Mackinaw Bridge, completing a loop.

    From Marquette all the way through the Hurons, Copper Country, and on through the southern segment along US 2, National Forest, State Forest, State Park, and electric power company campgrounds abound. I'd safely say you'd never be more than a dozen or two miles from a small campground.

    Looking forward to hearing of your trip and viewing your always fine photographs.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I've said before, the UP is one of my absolute favorite places to go for a summer getaway.

    Between SSM and Pictured Rock, there is a very nice drive along the lakeshore that will take you along Whitefish Bay, and if you follow that all the way around, you will get to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. Afterward, continue making your way west, stopping at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. This entire route is actually the subject of an RTA article, and if you check out the Michigan section of RTA's State by State attractions, you'll find even more details.

    There is a lot to do around Pictured Rocks, and lots of great great camping spots throughout the UP, especially in the National Forests.

    I'd keep going west after Pictured Rocks and head up into the Keweenaw peninsula - much of which is actually a National Historical Park. Houghton is a nice college town, and Quincy has numerous historic sites and museums about the copper mining history in the area. A trip into the Quincy Mine is well worth your time. If you head all the way to the end of the peninsula, you'll reach Fort Wilkins, another historic site worth checking out.

    Farther west in the UP is the Porcupine Mountains area, which is next on my list of places to explore.

    If you're looking for something different, you might also expand your trip into Ontario for your trip there/home. There are lots of great things to see and explore on the north side of Lake Huron, especially around the Georgian Bay. From there, you could make your way down to Toronto/Niagara Falls for the trip home.

  6. Default Back from the trip- Trip Report

    Hey guys, we had a fabulous trip. Here is the breakdown of our travels.

    Sunday 6/29: Left around 6:40 pm. Took I-495W->I-270N->I-70W->I-76W to Somerset, PA. Spent the night in Quality Inn.

    Monday 6/30: Woke up next morning and started to drive out. Followed I-76W->I-80W->I-475N->US23. Stopped for resting/meals in Ann Arbor. First went to REI (Eisenhower Pkwy), purchased some rain gear and kayak pump. Had dinner at an Indian buffet (Earthen Jar). Totally not worth it, was too pricey. Also had ice cream at Kilwins. Headed back out on US-23N->I-75N. Stopped at Super 8, west Branch, MI.

    Tuesday 7/1: Headed out in the morning on I-75N. Stopped at a rest area about 20 miles south of the Mackinaw Bridge. Had lunch there and hiked to the rest area overlook. Also read about the Area geograhy on hand painted displays. Back on the road, and crossed the bridge.Had to take a detour due to construction, and ended up stopping at a farmstand. Not impressive at all. All the veggies seemed to be non local! Back on the road, I-75N and hit St. Sault Marie. We decided to stay in Super 8, next to the Studebaker cafe. during the day, we walked around and viewed the historical markers noting the town's development and viewed the operation of Soo Locks. Had a takeout from upper crust Pizza for dinner. was very decent.There was a huge contingent of Amish people who were haing a picnic in the hotels backyard.

    Wednesday 7/2: Got up in the morning and went to get coffee from "Cup of the Day". They had no whole milk! We headed out by taking the W 6 mile road to Lakeshore Drive. This drive was very beautiful and scenic.We stopped at the Irquois Pt. Lighthouse. There was a volunteer there who had worked in the DC area for many years. We walked around the grounds, climbed to the top of the lighthouse, walked along the beach etc. Was a bit chilly, with a breeze coming in. After the lighthouse, we contined the drive to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum @whitefish point. The museum was pretty neat, but it wasn't as good as the hype we heard about it. So it was sort of a let down. Very interesting exhibits. Lot of artifacts from different ships.Amazing how often ships bash into each other on that huge lake. After the museum, we decided to head over to Pictured Rocks National lakeshore. Set up camp, and then walked down hurricane River beach for sunset pictures. Took some decent shots. Realized the extent of mosquitoes, around that time of the year!

    Thursday 7/3: Woke up at 4:30am and hiked to the Au Sable Lighthouse. Once done with that, hiked back and drove to Au Sable Falls. All this time, we were eaten by mosquitoes, so decided to sit right in the middle of the parking lot, as it was relatively mosqi free. Had tea/read some, and relaxed. Returned to camp, and had breakfast. There were mosquitoes in the Oatmeal. TNapped for a bit, and headed over to the log slide. Hiked along the dunes near the edge of the slide. Decided to eat dinner at the picnic area, as there were fewer mosquitoes. Once done with dinner, we headed back to the campground and hiked half way to the lighthouse for some sunset pictures.

    Friday 7/4: again woke up at 4:30am and hiked through the swarms of mosquitoes to the lighthouse. After the photography, headed back to camp, and napped. Woke up around 11 am, and headed over the log slide, where we had lunch. After lunch, drove over to the 12 mile beach, where we sunbathed and swam in the ice cold waters. After feeling relaxed, we decided to head over to Seney Wildlife refuge, and did one of the nature drives. Saw loons, Swans with cygnets. The day was extremely pleasant. On the way back to Pictured Rocks, we stopped at a wigwam shaped rest area on M77. Was very neat. It was built by CCC. had our dinner there (mosquito free). Headed back to the campground, and again hiked over to the lighthouse for some sunset shots. Sun was initially behind clouds, and it seems like a washout, but then the sky turned a beautiful red.

    Saturday 7/5: We both slept in. We were feeling extremely tired. Woke up around 9 am and started to pack up. However, due to some issue in my inner ear (came to know by internet searches later, and confirmed by a doctor, later), and I started to experience severe vertigo. I nearly threw up. I ended up sleeping for 2 more hrs. Once we got up, my gf started to feel sick, she actually went outside the tent and threw up. We decided we had enough, somehow managed to pack up and started to drive out on H58, towards Munising. Once we reached that town, we decided to eat something. Stopped by at the Navigator, but the service was horrendous. We walked out, and went to Falling Rock Cafe, that was right across the street. The service was good, and the food was decent. Breakfast burrito + Hummus Sandwich + coffee. We took our time in eating, and just relaxed and started to feel a lot better. Continued to drive on M28W, towards Marquette. Checked into Landmark hotel (kinda fancy) and ordered pizza at Toarminos. Drove to presque Isle park and walked up to the breakwater, while the pizza was being made. Viewed Iron ore dock (over 100 yrs old). Went back, picked up the pizza and watch Indiana Jones and the last crusade, while eating pizza. Had a restful evening.

    Sunday 7/6: Got up in the morning and checked out. No complimentary breakfast there. Went to SweetwaterCafe. My gf had a veggie omelet and I had oatmeal with Almonds. However, they were all out of Almonds, and gave me untoasted walnuts. Took almond chews and Gingersnaps to go. Also Stopped by 3rd street Bagel and got Bagel sandwiches. Then drove to the Co-op and picked up some Nuts/bread/Honey/Banana/Tomatoes. Once all the supplies were bought, we decided to head over to the MI welcome center on M28. I spent around 20 mins talking to a very helpful volunteer about the waterfalls/attractions in the area. We headed over to the first recommendation- Iron Museum in Ishpeming. It had very nice exhibits explaining the history/discovery/extraction in the area. After that we stopped at the Yooopes Tourist trap. Was a lot of fun. We bought this magnet with a ship inside that was floating. very silly. Next stop was Canyon Falls, in a roadside park, on US41. We hiked out to the falls, a very pleasant hike. Pretty impressive, it was wide with a 15' drop. Hiked further downstream, saw neat angular rock formations. We hiked back out and again hit the road, on US41N. Next stop was the Statue of Baraga, very impressive! Seems he was also known as the snowshoe priest. The statue had snowshoes on them, and they were 26'. Walked around the compound and it was very beautiful and we could see lake superior below (we were at an elevation). While at the shrine, the cool wind started to come in, off the lake. We could see rain at a distance. Very beautiful. Back on the road again, towards Houghton. Soon we were driving through heavy rain and the mist coming right off the lake. We decided to spend the night in Motel 8, Houghton. Had dinner at Ambassdor Pizza. Had green and veg pizza with some local beers. End of an eventful day.

    Monday 7/6: Wokeup and had breakfast at the hotel. Went over to McDonalds for coffee. In UP, they had a cool deal for buy 5, get 1 free deal, which was very decent. At McD's, we realized we had forgotten our pillow and brush, so we went back. Once we picked those up, we started drive up to the copper harbor area. We first decided to see as many waterfalls as could, so first on the list was Hungarian Falls. We tried to follow the directions on a "Waterfalls of UP" site, but we ended up pretty lost. We decided to give up on that nad just followed M26 along the coast, and upto Gay. We stopped at a beautiful rest area by the road, lovely flowers and nice sand. There was a stream flowing into Superior. Took a walk along the beach, saw coyote (dog?) tracks. We then continued (a huge bal eagle flew right over the car) up around La Belle. stopped at "The Heaven" rest area, donated by local family and the shelter/picnic tables were built with donated labor. Then we drove up to Copper Harbor, and tried to drive to the tip of the peninsula (beyond the state park), on dirt roads. Couldn't do it as it had rained heavily, and there were large pools of water on the road. We decided to stop the Fort Wilkins state park. The two volunteers at the entrance were one of the grumpiest we had ever seen. Any question we asked were answered with a "yes/no/I don't know". The fort was built here to essentially keep the peace and never saw any action. Exhibits were ok, but not exciting as they were lacking in any historical relevance. They were scattered across in different buildings, and it was a nice walk. Once done with the park, we decided to go to the see the Copper harbor lighthouse. Turns out we couldn't actually drive to it, but saw it from across the bay. There were some interesting signs and the view was very nice. Then we drove to Manganese falls (through the town) and hiked down to the river. Was fun. Then we decided to do the Brockway Mtn drive (M26) along the west coast. Was just very beautiful. Stopped at a few scenic rest area, to check out the scope for sunset photography. no luck. Then we hit the town of Eagle harbor and went to the lighthouse. Walked around it, but didn't see any photo ops. Drove along the 8 mile drive hoping for another lighthouse (WHICH ONE?), but missed it. Drove down further to McLain St. Park to see a lighthouse, and by golly, it might have the world's ugliest! It also started to cloud up, so decided to call it a day, and headed back to Houghton. We had dinner at Bambu, and spent the night in Travelodge.

    Tuesday 7/7: had breakfast in the motel. Drove into the peninsula and to Eagle River. The falls are pretty impressive, so we hiked down to the actual river to take some pics. The trouts in the river appeared to be spawning, and the river was thick with fins/tails. 20-30 fish would be gathered in pockets here and there. The day was nice and rainy, didn't get much shots though. Must be the photographers lack of
    talent. The water was thick with fish, I managed to just scoop one out, and catch it with my bare hands. Put it back in the water, and hopefully didn't traumatize it too much. After clambering back up the steep slope, I realized I had broken my tripod head. That was the end of photography for me, for this trip. Then drove over to Jampot, a bakery run by monks! Spend a long time trying to decide what to buy. spoke at length to the head backer, the friar, the monk? Ended up buying thimbleberry and wild strawberry jam. Also bought soft ginger cookies, hermit cookies, slice of abby fruitcake, cocoa cupcake with espresso icing, and german chocolate cake with icing inside. All were just amazingly delish. Walked around the Abby garden, which was well tended, and beautifully arranged. Drove back towards Houghton and stopped on the side of road for Cliff Cemetary, for a ghost town. It was set back in the woods. Most gravestones were tilted/toppled and trees/underbrush had taken over. Saw foundation of an old church. A few recent markers (printouts covered in plastic notinv geneology) and plastic flowers. But Mostl haphazard stones, faded text noting people who died in the early-mid 1800s. After the somber visit, we headed back onto US 41, and stopped at the USS Kearsage ship, built of stones and brick. Was so silly, but got a kick out of it. Then we headed over to the Quincy mine in Hancock and took the mine tour. It was a lot of fun. We took a cog RR down to the entrance and then drive deep into the mine in a tractor. That was a bit unpleasant with all the exhaust and nowhere for it go. The tour showed a small portion of the mine and discussed workers/laborers conditions and the mining techinques. They showed the mined areas. Once back on top, we toured the hoist room and museum. After all this, it was getting late, so we decided to head back to Houghton. We checked into Motel 8, and had dinner at the Rodeo mexican kitchen. The food was good, but a little bland.

    Wednesday 7/9: Woke up and had breakfast at hotel. Once checked out, we went to a small Farmer's market on the lawn in front of Finlandia University. Bought homemade garlic bread, potholders, flatbread/tabouleh from an Iranian woman, and some lettuce from a very enthusiastic farmer. He had the same problem I had, buying a ton of seeds. Spoke to another baker, but had already bought a lot of bread. Went over McDonalds, got our usual cup of coffee, and then started to drive south M26 to M38 and paralleled the edge of Ottawa national forest. We turned south on Forest Rt 16. There was a short delay due to some roadwork, which was weird, considering ours was the only car on that entire stretch! We stopped at a nice rest area at the intersection with M28. Also walked around the field/stream over the ATV bridge. Was a nice relaxing walk and a nice stretch of legs. Continued down RF16 to US2. Drove down to the Iron County Historical Museum. It was one of the most random museums I have seen. It was an odd jumble of random historical items - Art display by a local artist, Items a deep sea diver found (he was a local), Chains used to do original area surveying, instruments and costumes from local ethnic groups, many 1900s era photos, Mining paraphernalia, High school sports trophies/memoribilia, and some soldiers memories. Outside grounds had a historic mineshaft, Mine "jail", and machines used in logging/mining. There were a few reconstructed settler's cabins. Then we hit the road again and decided to go to Horserace rapids. Hiked down 1/4 mile trail. It seems like a good place for a sunset shot, around fall. Kept following the highway, it went for a small distance in Wisconsin, and back into MI. we decided to spend the night in Escanaba. Stayed in a local motel called the sunset motel. It was owned by a young couple from DC. had dinner at thin crust pizza, which was just ok.

    Thursday 7/10: Woke up, and decided to go for breakfast @Swedish pantry. Just ok. Huge portions but quality was alright. The place was covered wall to wall with cheesy expensive clocks for sale! I had a huge bowl of oatmeal, and my gf had swedish pancakes with Lingonberry jam and butter. After breakfast, we checked out, and started to drive back on US 2. Stopped for coffee in Gladstone. Drove along green bayonto County Rd 513. Followed it all the way down to the tip of that penisula to a lighthouse called, well, peninsula point LH. They had nice grounds, and a nice Monarch butterfly display. We climbed to the top of the LH, but I banged my head really hard, got a big knot. This was a pleasant visit, as the day was just gorgeous. Started driving back out, saw a few horses in the farms. We hit US2 and drove towards the spring, Kitch-Iti-Kipi. Took the pulley raft across the spring, was fun. Saw plenty of fish through the glass botton. Also saw the turbulent spring feeding into the lake from the botton. Did this twice, was enjoyable. Once we were done with this, we decided to use the restrooms. The stalls had no locks, and it was really odd! I had to keep the door closed by holding it. We hit the museum gift store and I accidentally broke a magnet. The idiot employees made me buy it! and it was the uglist magnet ever. oh well. We hit the road again, and headed towards Manistique. Stopped at the Manistique trail winery, and did an extremely efficient wine tasting. The wines were ok, nothing to rave about, but we bought a few bottles. Our next stop was the Seul Choix lighthouse. We toured the old keeper's house. Was very neat. Walked to the top of the structure and just spend a few minutes peering through the binoculars. Saw two lakes. We also took a nice stroll on the grounds, and along the beach. The shore was littered with immature (white) mussell shells. I wonder if they were dumped there on purpose as part of some shoreline preservation project. Headed back on road towards St. Ignace. We checked into a very resort-y Best Western, was quite fancy. Had a takeout pizza/salad from Pizza builders, pretty decent. After dinner, we walked down to the harbor, and watched the boats. The moon came up, it was almost full. The weather was very nice.

    Friday 7/11: had breakfast in the hotel. Was extremely crowded, but managed to find a place to sit and eat. Once checked out, we headed over to the museum of Ojibwa culture. It's on the site of an early catholic mission; James Maquette's grave is located there. It was pretty small, but a very nice collection of historical artifacts. We watched a video showing the traditional way of making canoes, was neat. The gift shop had items made by different Indians, many local. I also got to try playing the wooden flute, was fun, but too difficult! Bought a pair of stone turtles, and some magnets. Once done with the museum, we headed over to Mcdonald's, got some nice coffee and started to head back home! We hit I-75S, crossed over the Mackinaw bridge, and back into the Mitten. We stopped for lunch at a rest area. We again started driving, and stopped for dinner at Chipotle, in Toledo, OH. We drove for a little bit after dinner, and stopped for the night in a Red Roof Inn in Elyra, OH.

    Saturday 7/12: Had breakfast in the hotel. Then decided to head out to McDonald's. One of the worst experiences ever! The managed seemed mentally deficient and the coffee was horrendous! I just couldn't even finish it. Got back on the road, and reached the DC area around 4:30 pm. Swung by our community garden to checkout the vegetables, and then came back and rested for the night.

    There you have it. A two week long road trip to the UP! Thanks again for all the suggestions.

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