Central Upper Peninsula Travel Guide
Visit the Central Upper Peninsula
The central portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is true north country: an area of dramatic differences ranging from towering painted cliffs overlooking Lake Superior to miles of thickly forested land to quiet, secluded stretches of Lake Michigan.
The rich Native American history of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula comes to life here, as it does throughout the eastern and western upper peninsula. You’ll find historic sites and museums celebrating the background throughout the area.
Explore the Central Upper Peninsula
For traveler’s from the lower peninsula, once you leave Mackinaw City via the Mackinac Bridge and cross over the Straits of Mackinac (passing Mackinac Island along the way), you’re headed for a pure Michigan adventure.
The central location of these northern Michigan communities make them an ideal place for outdoors and fun. There’s simply so much to do and see: you can explore the region by hiking and biking, or kayaking or by car. In the winter months, you can explore by snowshoe, snowmobile, fat tire bike, or even dog sled.
As with much of the Upper Peninsula, it’s truly a place for people who love the outdoors. The counties in the Central Upper Peninsula include Alger, Delta, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, and Schoolcraft. Each of these counties is unique, with its own particular set of charms.
Read on to discover the best spots to visit in the central part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Visit Alger County
Named after lumber baron Russell Alger, Alger County is home to Au Train and Munising, two of the largest cities in the U.P. Perhaps one of the most scenic counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it’s also home to three national protected areas including Grand Island National Recreation Area, the Hiawatha National Forest, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
This national lakeshore is one of the most picturesque spots along the Lake Superior coastline, and is a major tourist attraction drawing thousands of visitors annually.
Things to Do in Alger County, MI
If camping is your thing, you’ll want to put Alger County on your bucket list. The vast wilderness and miles of stunning shoreline are draws for campers who relish the opportunity to explore rivers, streams, and pure Michigan outdoor beauty.
If you enjoy hiking and mountain biking down a country trail, this is your spot: Alger County has more than 47 miles of waterfalls, sand dunes, and rock formations ready for exploration. You’ll want to check out Grand Island National Recreation Area, Hiawatha National Forest, and Picture Rocks National Lakeshore
Visit Delta County
Lake Michigan’s northern shoreline is one of Michigan’s hidden gems; a beautiful place to explore year around, and home to Escanaba, one of the largest cities in the Upper Peninsula.
Delta County is unique area where history meets the arts, nature and wilderness, resulting in a culturally exciting bit of the Upper Peninsula. Here, visitors can choose from everything from camping and car shows to golfing and hiking. You can also visit wineries, breweries and local art galleries.
Things to Do in Delta County
Delta County Historical Museum – Located in Escanaba, this delightful spot features a museum and archives for exploration, as well as the historic Sand Point Lighthouse.
Hiawatha National Forest – The Hiawatha National forest contains a number of distinct wilderness areas: Big Island Lake Wilderness, Delirium Wilderness, Horseshoe Bay Wilderness, Mackinac Wilderness, Rock River Canyon Wilderness, and Round Island Wilderness. In each of these areas, you may have the wonderful opportunity to discover timber wolves, golden eagles, moose, hawks, even wild turkey.
Fayette Historic State Park – Located on Big Bay de Noc, this former townsite is part campground and part historical museum and bears the remains of a once-busy smelting community. Walk the sprawling grounds and explore life in the late 1800’s, and take in the vistas of the limestone cliffs that surround the harbor. You’ll also find a sandy beach on the shore of Lake Michigan and miles of hiking trails.
Visit Dickinson County
It’s wild and wonderful Michigan: if you’re and outdoors enthusiast, this is one place you wont want to miss. From whitewater rafting surrounded by white pine forests to the towering Pine Mountain ski resort to the city of Iron Mountain, named a “Michigan Main Street” in 2006, Dickinson County is a study in contrasts and fun spot to explore.
Things to Do in Dickinson County
White Water Rafting – Try whitewater rafting down the Piers Gorge section of Menominee River. The deepest whitewater gorge in the midwest, this gorge has a 10-foot drop and is not for the faint of heart.
Pine Mountain Ski Jump – Pine Mountain Ski Jump has some of the best artificial ski jumps in the world, which attracts some of the top jumpers, internationally. If you come at the right time, you can come to see the Pine Mountain Ski Jumping Tournament.
Visit Marquette County
Set on the shores of Lake Superior, Marquette is home to the largest city in the Upper Peninsula and is a year-round destination for travelers from around the world. Marquette pairs the best of big city life (think Northern Michigan University, museums, wineries and breweries) with a stunning landscape perfect for outdoors lovers. Hiking, biking, swimming, skiing and more: it’s all here and waiting for visitors.
Once a hub for many a mining company, Marquette County IS iron county; its history immersed in the iron mine industry that dominated the areas. You can explore this history in the area’s historical museums, and you’ll also want to visit Marquette’s art galleries and museums, too: they’re quite good.
Of course, the main draw for visitors to Marquette County is the natural setting. The stunning shores of Lake Superior (dotted with lighthouses waiting to be explored); the long nature trails and mountainous terrain are not to be missed.
Located on Lake Michigan’s Green Bay, Menominee County is a vacation destination for those seeking to relax on sandy beaches; have some fun at the waterfront casino or explore stunning Pemene Falls. Watersport enthusiasts can enjoy power boating, sailing on Lake Michigan or kayaking and rafting on the Menominee River.
It’s also an area teeming with history: once the territory of the Menominee Indian tribe, this are celebrates its rich history with a county historical museum, featuring fun and interesting displays for all ages.
Things to do in Menominee, MI
Menominee Heritage Museum – The Menominee Heritage Museum was formerly the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, which was acquired by the Menominee County Historical Society in 1976. Here, visitors can learn about immigrants, fur traders, Menominee Indians, and loggers in a former Catholic Church.
Menominee Indian Tribe Cultural Museum – The Menominee Indian Tribe Cultural Museum covers the history of the Menominee, which covered more than 10,000,000 acres of land in the currently named “Wisconsin” and “Upper Michigan.” Visitors can earn about the Indigenous peoples of the area with more than 10,000 years of history; as well as historical sites in and around the county.
Visit Schoolcraft County
Set on the sandy northern shores of Lake Michigan, Schoolcraft County is an unspoiled natural playground. It may be one of the smallest counties in Michigan, but it’s home to some of Michigan’s top tourist destinations that are definitely worth checking out.
These spots include:
Kitch-iti-kipi, Michigan’s largest natural freshwater spring. You may have caught a glimpse of it in a magazine or on social media: it’s widely photographed because it’s clear azure turquoise waters are so picturesque. Visitors can take a self-operated observation raft across this 40-foot-deep spring and gaze at the water below.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge, an almost 100,000-acre managed wetland. The Seney national wildlife area is home to a diverse collection of animals including 200 species of birds, 50 animals and 36 types of fish. It is truly a perfect spot to see native Michigan species in their natural habitat.
Indian Lake, the fourth largest inland lake in Michigan. At six miles long and three miles wide, this lake is surrounded by a sandy beach. Indian Lake State Park is a popular travel destination for swimming, hunting, fishing, canoeing, hiking, snowmobiling, cross- country skiing, metal detecting, and berry picking.
Things to Do in Schoolcraft County
This part of the Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan is home to some beautiful hiking trails, buts its also a good spot for simple and leisurely nature walks. Be sure to check out:
Bishop’s Bog Preserve Trail – The Bishop’s Bog Preserve Trail is a beautiful place harboring the orange fringed orchid, the pink ladyslipper, northern pitcher plant, and more. It’s one of those trails you have to see to believe, quaint and majestic.
Reach Flowerfield Creek Nature Sanctuary – The Reach Flowerfield Creek Nature Sanctuary is a component of the Michigan Nature Association to protect Flowerfield Creek. It’s a lovely abundance of Beech trees, and other flora and fauna, including Purple Fringed Orchids, Rosinweed, and Cardinal Flowers.
About the Author
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. He is an Independent Journalist and Researcher. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and the advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere.