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  1. #1

    Default Road Trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

    I need advice... I'm planning a road trip to the UP and have booked two nights in Marquette, MI. My plan is to leave Sault Ste Marie and take the scenic route up to Whitefish Point, then back to Paradise and over to Tahquamenon Falls, up to Grand Maris and get to Munising in time for the sunset cruise to Pictured Rocks. Day two activities include Canyon Falls, Keweenaw Peninsula all the way to Copper Harbor, then over to Porcupine Mountain SP and finally Bond Falls before going back to Marquette. Day three includes Manistique, Kitch-iti-Kipi Springs, and then down to the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin. My next lodging is down near Milwakee that night.

    Am I trying to do too much in the three days and two nights? I can still book a third night in Marquette, but need to make my decision soon. Any advice is welcome if you've been to the Upper Peninsula. I don't hike much, but like to take lots of pictures.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Megan will be doing something similar in July

    The UP of Michigan has long intrigued Megan Edwards, (Co-founder of RTA), and she'll be doing a similar trip in July. I'll see if I can't get her to swing by and offer her suggestions as well -- Although I expect you're farther along with the trip planning than she is at this stage.


  3. #3

    Default The UP: It's like a whole 'nother state............

    Hello Road Hawk,

    Although it's been 27 years since I lived in Crystal Falls, MI for two consecutive "ice out" seasons, I doubt the state has gotten any smaller. Here's what I think:

    I haven't done any mileage program homework on your Day 2, but I'll bet you're looking at close to 400 miles. Unless you've got a killer deal or other reasons for a second or third night in Marquette, I'd spend the second night way west around Ontonagon (a neat little town on Lake Superior) or perhaps come back across US 2 as far as Crystal Falls or Iron Mountain. Crystal Falls is the smaller and more quaint of the two.

    I don't know where the Springs are, but Manistique isn't too far out of the way to drop by on your Day 1.

    If you extend your stay a bit, and have a capable vehicle, consider driving out to Point Abbaye, northeast of L'anse. Find it on the map by locating what appears to be a "mini Keeweenaw" peninsula to the south of the real thing. Back when I was living up there, it was a rough but passable gravel road right out to the point, and the outcrops there were unique and photogenic, particularly if the water is calm and can provide reflections from the Huron Mountains, Michigan's high points, across the water to the east-southeast. I faintly recall a recent google search where the Point Abbaye drive was discussed in a forum, so apparently one can still drive out there.

    Be aware the UP counties bordering Wisconsin are on Central time while the Keeweenaw, Ontonagon, etc, are on Eastern time (unless something's changed). The result is daylight until close to 10pm in midsummer. And well away from the lights of Marquette, etc, the Northern Lights can be spectacular.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default one of my personal favorites

    I suspect your going to discover that you've bitten off a bit more than you can really do.

    This is really a great area where you'll have lots of places to take pictures - but its also a deceptively large area and travel is slow going. Several of the places you'll be traveling to involve travel on gravel roads (which you'll find is quite common even for some of the more heavily traveled roads through this part.)

    In fact, I think your first day you'll really have to watch the clock to make it to that sunset cruise.

    Just for comparison, I was up there a couple years ago on a labor day camping trip and we didn't do a fraction of the things I thought we would. We camped not too far from Munising, and planned to spend the day checking out Pictured Rocks, and making our way over to the Shipwreck Museum in Paradise, and maybe even the SSM Locks if we were making really good time. We spent the morning just walking around the coastline, checking out several of the waterfalls, etc. There was no major hiking, but certainly several short walks. By the time we'd just done that, it was already mid-afternoon by the time we got to Grand Marais. After getting a late lunch, We did one last walk out to a lighthouse, and headed back - and it was already dark when we got back near Munising.

    I'm really not one who lingers all that much, so I tend to figure my pace is on the upper end of what anyone else would find enjoyable, but you'll have to see how that all works out compared to your own style.

    While you're in the area, I would recommend stopping to get some fresh (and/or smoked) fish from one of the many little stands right along lake Superior. And of course, no trip to the UP would be complete without a stop at the Yooper Tacky Tourist Trap!

    I will say your day back south also sounds quite rushed, and I think you'll have a tough time fitting Door County into your trip. Depending on how far you want to go out onto the Pennisula, you're looking at 400-500 miles of driving to get from Marquette to Milwaukee. Remember, its a good hour drive (one way) from Green Bay to Sturgeon Bay and another hour up to Sister Bay or beyond.

    Another option in this area is the Marinette County Waterfalls tour, which has about a dozen waterfalls, most of which just require a short walk to get to. This is another area where I figured I'd spend a couple hours here, and the next thing I know its dark and I've now got a 300 miles drive to get back home!

  5. Default

    I agree with Midwest Michael about biting off more than you can chew.

    I've been to all the places you want to visit and they are all worth your time. But time is not on your side. Day one, I figure over 6 hours and 220 miles. But this doesn't take into account the TIME at any one place. You can easily spend an hour or more at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. I went everywhere you listed a couple years ago, on a two week vacation and still felt rushed. We did the pictured rocks tour on the same day as the sunken boats tour...really neat, but time consuming.

    I hate to say it, but I would skip the Porcupine Mountains. If I recall, once you enter the park, it's a lot of very slow driving that just eats up the time.

    I suggest you determine a couple "must sees" and plan your time accordingly, fitting in the "like to sees" where possible. Must sees could be the Pictured Rocks Boat Tour, the Shipwreck Museum, the drive to Copper Harbor. Bond Falls is unique and beautiful, and Kitch-iti-Kipi Springs is a special place (if you can find it...look for Palms Book State Park).

    Good luck!

  6. #6


    Wow! I'm impressed with the responses. I am certain now that my plans were too ambitious. mainly because of the many unpaved roads in the UP. I try to limit my driving to >400 miles per day when sightseeing, but I didn't take into account the roads.

    I do sort my planned destinations into "must see" and "optional" categories, and had done so in this case. ie - Grand Marais is optional because it is a 70-mile sidetrip to get there and back to the Rte 28 to Munising-the road through Pictured Rocks is currently closed for repair. However, Porcupine Mountain SP was a "must see" place. Now I'm not so sure about it, since it is many miles out of the way.

    I'm definitely going to look closely at Point Abbaye and Marinette County, WI, and I might skip Door County, as I was only going to go as far as Sturgeon Bay anyway.

    Thanks for all the advice so far, and I'm using it to good advantage. I will, of course, post daily while on the trip, so you can follow my progress (or lack of it). Mark, I'll be happy to share my detailed trip itinerary with Megan if she would like to conspire on it.

  7. #7


    Road Hawk,
    For my money, the Porkies could be skipped and not missed. My own preference would be to spend more time on the Keeweenaw, with possibilities for some up close in the vicinity of the Huron Mtns and Point Abbaye. Again, it's been quite some time, but I've read the Huron Mountain Club still owns/occupies a goodly part of the range but that one can still access the edges along the lakefront road northwest of Marquette. Access is also possible northward off of US 141 west of Marquette near Lake Michigamme (not to be confused with Michigamme Reservior, nearer to Crystal Falls. "Back in the Day" I was able to drive my IH Scout nearly to the top of Mt Arvon and fish a small lake up there.


  8. #8


    In Munising, I suggest visiting the Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore for good food, ice cream, tons of used books, and a great atmosphere. If the western U.P. stays on your list (which I think it should, but I see you do need to cut back) you might skip Bond Falls and stop at Agate Falls instead, right off M28 about 5 miles east of Bruce Crossing. The old railroad trestle bridge that spans the river there offers a stupendous view ... In the U.P. there's a lot of plain old woods and Lake Superior shoreline to travel through and along in order to get places, for sure, but it's worth it. And there's a lot of roadside surprises, too - you might even call them oddities - that might make you want to stop and take a bit more time.

  9. #9


    Man, oh man, that tip on Agate Falls is a real winner! I'd have missed it altogether if I went to Bond Falls. It looks like a better place if I have to choose between them.

    I'm not seeing any roads out to Point Abbaye. Can anyone tell me iif there is at least a dirt track out there? I'm driving a 2007 Taurus SE, by the way, so I have no 4-wheel capacity. I have taken it over some pretty rough roads, however.

  10. Default

    what time of year are you going? grand marais mich has annual music fest the second weekend ind august. worth the trip! check out presque isle rivermouth in porcupine mtn area. beautiful. also agate falls near marquette

    dead river falls at the power plant in marquette. nice hike . beautiful if water is high
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 04-15-2010 at 01:26 PM. Reason: merged back to back posts

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