Skip to Content

Keweenaw Peninsula Guide 2023: Exploring Michigan’s Hidden Gems

eagle harbor lighthouse keweenaw peninisula
Eagle River Lighthouse

by Robert Trudeau

Ultimate Guide to Keweenaw Peninsula

Welcome to the majestic Keweenaw Peninsula, a hidden gem nestled in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This scenic region, known locally as the Copper Country, offers a blend of historical grandeur, outdoor recreation opportunities  and natural beauty.

Embark on an unforgettable road trip through the Keweenaw and discover enchanting waterfalls and charming copper towns.

Spend an afternoon hiking through remnants of the area’s copper mining past. Get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of this natural wonder, because Copper Country’s reputation as one of the most beautiful places in Michigan is well-deserved.   

Michigan Technological University is located here, one of Houghton County’s points of pride and worth a visit. 

When you embark on a road trip to Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, Yooper culture is a big part of the experience. Embrace the culture of the Keweenaw Peninsula and create memories that will last a lifetime!

If you’re thinking about exploring the Keweenaw or need a U.P, trip idea,  read on to plan your vacation getaway. 

Dont miss the the opportunity to catch the northern lights or a meteor shower if conditions are right: The Keweenaw’s dark sky offers great viewing!  

keweenaw peninsula in the fall
Keweenaw Peninsula in the Fall

Explore the Scenic Keweenaw

Michigan’s Lake Superior lakeshore is a marvel carved by glaciers. When visiting the Keweenaw, you’ll discover ancient waterfalls and volcanic remnants across the peninsula. These natural wonders are easily accessible on your drive through the Keweenaw.

Still, some locations take a more ambitious effort to find. But taking a dip in chilly Lake Superior is a great way to cool down! You won’t want to miss these scenic locations during your travels.

The Keweenaw Waterway, also known as the Portage Lake Ship Canal, connects Lake Superior to Lake Portage and separates the Keweenaw Peninsula from the mainland. The waterway was constructed in the late 19th century to provide a navigable route for shipping and transportation, primarily for the copper and lumber industries in the area.

It consists of a series of canals, channels, and locks, allowing vessels to bypass the treacherous rapids of the Sturgeon River and traverse between the two lakes.

Today, the Keweenaw Waterway serves as a vital transportation route and also offers recreational opportunities such as boating, fishing, and kayaking, with scenic views of the surrounding natural beauty.

15 Best Upper Peninsula Campgrounds

George Hite Dunes and Marshes Preserve – Eagle Harbor, MI
Sand Dunes Dr, Mohawk, MI 49950

Nature lovers will appreciate the George Hite Dunes and Marshes Preserve, located along the serene shores of Eagle Harbor, MI. Locals refer to this as the “Great Sand Bay.” Take a tranquil walk or cross country ski through the dunes. The whispering winds carry the scent of fresh water from nearby Lake Superior. 

You’ll find delicate marshes brimming with wildlife and gorgeous trilliums, offering a glimpse into the delicate balance of this unique ecosystem. Pause for a moment and appreciate the harmony between land and water in this captivating preserve. Just make sure to leave it how you found it!

brockway mountain in the Keweenaw Peninsula
Brockway Mountain in the Keweenaw Peninsula

Brockway Mountain Lookout – Copper Harbor, MI
Brockway Mountain Dr, Mohawk, MI 4995

Ascend to the pinnacle of Copper Harbor, MI, and behold the awe-inspiring beauty of Brockway Mountain Lookout. You’ll find a breathtaking view of Lake Superior from this panoramic vantage point. This is a beautiful place to bring a picnic lunch!

Lush forests and rugged cliffs create a tapestry of natural wonder that will leave you speechless. As the sun sets, casting its warm hues across the landscape, take a moment to immerse yourself in the light.

PRO-TIP: This is a great place to view the northern lights!

Canopy Drive – US-41

The beginning section of US-41 between Copper Harbor and Delaware unveils the enchanting allure of a canopy drive. Meander along the winding roads as towering trees create a thick canopy overhead for one of the prettiest scenic drives in Michigan.

The soft, dappled light filtering through the branches illuminates your path, casting an ethereal glow on your surroundings. Transport yourself into a world where nature reigns supreme. This is one of the most beautiful drives in the fall!

estivant pines in the keweenaw peninsula
Estivant Pines

Estivant Pines – Copper Harbor, MI
Burma Rd, Copper Harbor, MI 49918

Deep within the heart of Copper Harbor, MI, lies the majestic Estivant Pines. They are truly a testament to the grandeur of nature. Thanks to the dedication of Keweenaw residents, locals and tourists will enjoy the Estivant Pines for years to come.

Two loop trails bring visitors through the towering pines and forest. The 1 mile Cathedral Grove loop passes some of the largest and oldest giant white pines. Some of them grow to more than 125 feet tall and date back 300 years!

Immerse yourself in this ancient forest, where towering trees reach for the sky, evoking a sense of wonder and timelessness. Follow the serene trails and let the hushed whispers of nature guide you. Lose yourself amidst the towering pines, finding solace in their gentle sway and the tranquility that permeates the air.

McClain State Park – Hancock, MI
18350 M-203, Hancock, MI 49930

McClain State Park is a beautiful place in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula that’s perfect for people who love nature and being outdoors. Located on the shores of Lake Superior, the park has stunning views, clean beaches, and lots of things to do. You can go camping at the location and appreciate the tranquility. Or, you can go hiking on the well-maintained trails through the forests.

If you like being in the water, you can swim or fish in the lake. The park is also a great spot for taking pictures, especially in the fall. With picnic areas, playgrounds, and a campground, you’ll have everything you need for a fun and relaxing time! McClain State Park is a wonderful place for an outdoor adventure.

jacobs falls in the Keweenaw Peninsula
Jacobs Falls in the Keweenaw Peninsula

Jacob’s Falls – Eagle River, MI
Sand Dunes Dr, Eagle River, MI 49950

Nature’s embrace unfolds in Eagle River, MI, where Jacob’s Falls tumbles down a rugged landscape. An easily visited Keweenaw waterfall that is far more interesting than appears. This is a wonderful stop on your way to Copper Harbor. Follow the melodic sound of flowing water as it guides you to this natural masterpiece.

Stand before the majestic waterfall, feel the cool mist on your face, and listen to the symphony of nature’s elements. The tumbling waters carve their path through the rocks, creating a mesmerizing sight that captivates all who behold its raw beauty. Adventurous visitors can follow the creek over a series of hills that stretches from M-26 up to a steep, grassy plain.

Devil’s Washtub – Mohawk, MI
47°28’43.2″N 87°55’54.3″W

If you’re hope to encounter geologic formations in the Keweenaw Peninsula, you should visit the Devil’s Washtub! Just two miles west of Copper Harbor, Devils Washtub is like a coastal hike over lava rocks.

Venture into the rugged landscapes of Mohawk, MI, and discover the bewitching Devil’s Washtub. This natural wonder captivates visitors with its raw power and stunning beauty. Listen to the serenade of crashing waves as they collide against the rocky shoreline, creating an extraordinary display of nature’s forces.

thimbleberries in the keweenaw peninsula
Keweenaw Peninsula Thimbleberries

Savor the Local Flavors of the Keweenaw Peninsula

The Keweenaw Peninsula is home to a wide variety of berries. The rich soil along the Lake Superior coastline provide the perfect habitat for a rare berry known as the thimbleberry. It gets its name from its thimble-like shape, with a flavor of tart raspberry. Local tradition has always been to pick as many as possible during the season to preserve for winter.

As you make the drive towards Copper Harbor, you may notice groves of bushes with huge green leaves through the treeline. Pull over and take a look! The season extends from mid July to the end of August, so you might just get lucky!

Jampot – Eagle Harbor, MI
6500 M-26, Eagle Harbor, MI 49950

Right next to Jacob’s Falls you’ll find delicious treats at the Jampot. Locals have bought jams and fresh baked goods since the mid 1980s. A small group of Byzantine Catholic Monks exist here and 100% of their profits support their fellowship. It’s an amazing place to stop for an experience unlike any other.

This cozy Keweenaw bakery opens with the warm scent of freshly baked goods. Indulge in delectable pastries and artisanal breads, each lovingly crafted with the finest ingredients. Sample an assortment of treats and let the harmonious blend of flavors transport your taste buds to new realms of delight. Their famous thimbleberry jam is the best!

The Jam Lady – Eagle River, MI
5055 M-26, Eagle River, MI 49950

No trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula is complete without savoring its edible delights. In the charming village of Eagle River, MI, The Jam Lady invites you to indulge your senses. Step inside this quaint shop and take in their array of homemade jams, jellies, and preserves. The delightful aroma of freshly picked fruits fills the air, while colorful jars line the shelves.

The Jam Lady operates on the honor system. Take your time choosing from the wide assortment of jams, spreads, and other canned preserves. Make sure to bring cash to leave in the jar! Please be considerate and make sure to only take what you pay for. 

keweenaw peninsula lighthouse

Top Keweenaw Attractions

Families and nature enthusiasts find comfort in the Keweenaw forests and beaches. If you’re waiting for the boat to Isle Royale National Park, make sure to soak up your time on the mainland. There is truly an attraction for everyone in the Copper Harbor area. Check out the Copper Harbor website for an updated list of weekend events!

Biking in Copper Harbor – Keweenaw Adventure Company
155 Gratiot St, Copper Harbor, MI 49918

With a network of world-class trails, Copper Harbor offers a thrilling experience for riders of all skill levels. From flowy singletracks to technical descents, the diverse terrain will keep you on your toes. Soak in the breathtaking views of Lake Superior as you navigate through lush forests and challenging rock formations.

Are you an experienced cyclist looking for a new challenge? Or a beginner wanting an unforgettable biking experience? Copper Harbor is the perfect place for you. The Keweenaw Adventure Company in downtown Copper Harbor rents a wide range of bikes for the whole family!

Heading east from Copper Harbor, you’ll find the Horseshoe Bay loop. This lakeside trail is a favorite among bikers. At the end, you’ll find horseshoe harbor, a true natural beauty. This is a great place to hunt for agates!

fort wilkins
Fort Wilkins State Park

Fort Wilkins State Park
15223 US Hwy 41, Copper Harbor, MI 49918

Step back in time and immerse yourself in history at Fort Wilkins State Park. Located in the heart of the Keweenaw Peninsula, this beautifully preserved historic state park offers a glimpse into 19th-century military life.

Explore the barracks, visit the commanding officer’s quarters, and learn about the daily routines of soldiers stationed here. 

Stroll through the picturesque grounds and imagine the bustling activity that once took place within these walls. The park also features a beautiful campground, picnic areas, and access to Lake Fanny Hooe. You can enjoy swimming, fishing, and boating for the entire day. Fort Wilkins State Park promises an enriching and enjoyable experience for all.

Keweenaw Mountain Lodge
14252 US Hwy 41, Copper Harbor, MI 49918

Nestled in the foothills of Brockway Mountain, the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is a true gem for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. This rustic lodge offers a perfect blend of comfort and wilderness, providing a serene retreat in the heart of nature. Surrounded by lush forests, the lodge hosts one of the most beautiful golf courses in Michigan. 

Take a leisurely hike through scenic trails, go fishing in tranquil lakes, or tee off on the picturesque golf course. After a day of adventure, unwind in the cozy lodge. You’ll enjoy the delicious meals at the restaurant while taking in the peaceful surroundings. Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a basecamp, Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is the place to be.

Prospector’s Paradise
County Rd, Allouez, MI 49805

If you’re a rock hound, look no further than Prospector’s Paradise to find truly unique pieces. Prepare yourself to marvel at their wide variety of treasures. The inventory is constantly rotating with local minerals, agates, copper art, and so much more. This is a great place to find a keepsake you’ll value for a lifetime.

The surrounding land is a native burial ground and many locals attest to the unique energy felt in the area. If you ask eccentric locals, the land contains an energy vortex which connects individuals with nature. Whether or not you believe in energies, the beauty in the surrounding natural environment rings true. 

Keweenaw Historic Park
Keweenaw National Historic Park

Explore the Keweenaw National Historic Park 
 25970 Red Jacket Rd, Calumet, MI 49913

The Keweenaw National Historic Park is a remarkable historical site nestled in Keweenaw County, Michigan. It encompasses a rich history that dates back to the late 1800s, when the area flourished due to its abundant resources, particularly native coppers.

This park is a testament to the significance of the copper mining industry, which played a vital role in shaping the region’s economy and development. Visitors can explore the remnants of the mines, admire the engineering marvels of the era, and gain insight into the lives of the miners who toiled in these challenging conditions.

The Keweenaw National Historic Park stands as a tribute to the heritage of the native coppers and the resilient spirit of the communities that once thrived in this captivating landscape.

Ultimate Guide to finding Yooperlite in Michigan

Visit Keweenaw Mines

Indigenous Americans mined copper with hand tools in the Keweenaw Peninsula for 7,000 years. An incredibly intricate network of copper mining, blacksmithing, and trading developed across the Upper Peninsula. When settlers came, they found copper ore sticking out of the ground in these ancient mining sites. By the 1850s, the mining industry was in full operation with people flocking to the region for work. 

Today, the Keweenaw mining industry is a small fraction of what it was at the turn of the century. When the copper veins were exhausted, mine owners simply closed the mine. Many of these sites are still fully or partially intact.

Some locals hunt the tailing piles for greenstone, a rare gem. Others simply visit the sites to hike the old trails and observe the mountains of broken rock. No trip to the Keweenaw is complete without visiting the old mines.

Michigan's Western Upper Peninsula Guide

Cliff Mine – Phoenix, MI
Cliff Dr, Mohawk, MI 49950

The Cliff Mine was the first successful industrial copper mine in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Just outside the town of Phoenix, MI, you’ll find the Cliff Mine site. It stands as a testament to the resilience of early copper miners.  Between the years of 1846 and 1858, no copper mine could compete with the production at the Cliff Mine.

This historical abandoned mine, surrounded by picturesque scenery, offers a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of the past. Follow the trails that wind through the area, retracing the footsteps of those who toiled in search of precious copper ore. The towering remnants of the mine create a breathtaking sight against the backdrop of nature’s splendor.

Central Mine Area – Central, MI
Cliff Dr, Mohawk, MI 49950

Visiting the Keweenaw Peninsula is like stepping back in time. The Central Mine Area in Central, MI, perfectly embodies this rich historical heritage. Settles found an ancient Native American mine on the land. These ancient mines were famous for leading to rich veins of copper.

 As you enter this once-thriving copper mine, you’ll soon find the remnants of a bustling industry. Rustic structures and mining artifacts fill the landscape. This is a prime example of a back country ghost town! It’s also a magnificent location for cross country skiing.

Delaware Copper Mine Tours – Delaware, MI
7804 Delaware Rd, Delaware, MI 49950

For a journey into the heart of copper mining history, head to Delaware, MI, and experience the Delaware Copper Mine Tours. Equipped with a helmet and a sense of adventure, venture deep into the underground tunnels of this once-thriving copper mine. 

Discover techniques of the miners and gain a newfound appreciation for their relentless pursuit of the copper hidden beneath the surface. Guides tell tales of a past era, inviting you to imagine the lives of the miners who once worked this land. The Delaware mine is a great place to take kids for a tour.

Best Keweenaw Restaurants

Indulge in fresh seafood straight from Lake Superior or savor mouthwatering burgers made with locally sourced ingredients. Treat yourself to delectable dishes that showcase the region’s rich culinary heritage. 

Whether you’re seeking comfort food or farm-to-table delights, the Keweenaw’s food scene is sure to wow food enthusiasts. We’ve included some of our favorites in this guide, but check out our detailed guide to Keweenaw restaurants for more! 

  • Best Fine Dining
  • Harbor Haus, 77 Brockway Ave, Copper Harbor, MI 49918
  • Best Casual Dining
  • Fitzgerald’s, 5033 Front Street, Eagle River, MI, 49950
  • Best Seafood
  • Peterson’s Fish Market, 49813N US Hwy 41, Quincy Hill, Hancock, MI
ultimate guide to michigan's upper peninsula

Keweenaw Lodging

From cozy bed and breakfasts to rustic cabins surrounded by pristine wilderness, there’s a perfect place to suit every preference. Experience the unique atmosphere of inns, or relax in a lakeside motel with beautiful scenery.

Whether you’re seeking a family-friendly retreat or an adventurous outdoor escape, the Keweenaw is a welcoming home away from home. Check out our Keweenaw lodging guide for a more thorough overview of where to stay during your trip!

  • Most Iconic Place to Stay
    Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, 14252 US Hwy 41, Copper Harbor, MI 49918
  • Historic Bed & Breakfast
  • Laurium Manor Inn, 320 Tamarack St, Laurium, MI 49913
  • Best Budget Stay
  • King Copper Waterfront Motel, 447 Brockway Ave, Copper Harbor, MI 49918

More Amazing Places to Visit and Things to Do in Michigan

mackinac island ferry guide
Discover the top Michigan Resorts
10 best family beaches in michigan
21 places to see michgan fall color

About the Author-

My name is Robert Trudeau, and I’m a web content writer soon to be graduating with a B.S. in Writing with a minor in Digital Studies. Hailing in from the Upper Peninsula, I’m no stranger to the expansive beauty of Michigan. In this role, I’m excited to share my knowledge of Michigan while working within the web content development process. In the future I hope to work as a web developer and backend content strategist, helping clients build powerful websites with research-driven content and brand-specific strategies to support continued success.