Lighthouses of Lake Superior: Must-See Michigan Lighthouses
Lake Superior Lighthouses are built to be tough and stand tall to the fierce waves and winds of one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world.
With around 130 lighthouses scattered across 3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state. Of all the Great Lakes, Lake Superior has the most lighthouses on its shores, so it’s no surprise that Michigan’s northernmost coasts have plenty to see for lighthouse enthusiasts.
Many of these Lake Superior lighthouses are over a century old, and have a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
Whether you’re taking a Lake Superior circle tour or touring the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula you’ll want to see these amazing Lake Superior Lighthouses.
I’m sharing some of the best lighthouses on Lake Superior you just have to see for yourself.
Lake Superior Lighthouses in the Eastern U.P.
Point Iroquois Lighthouse
Point Iroquois Lighthouse marks the division between Whitefish Bay and the western end of the St. Mary’s River. First built in 1855 and standing at 65 feet tall, the Point Iroquois Lighthouse is one of the tallest in the state and offers phenomenal views of Lake Superior, Canada, the St. Mary’s River, and more.
The St. Mary’s River is home to the Soo Locks and serves as the connection between Lake Superior and the rest of the Great Lakes, which makes Point Iroquois Lighthouse an important landmark for ships sailing in and out of Lake Superior.
Whitefish Point Lighthouse
Built in 1841, Whitefish Point Lighthouse was one of the first lighthouses built on Lake Superior and the oldest active light on its shores. Its skeletal structure and looming height of around 80 feet makes it instantly recognizable and unique when compared to more traditional lighthouse designs.
More vessels have been lost in this area than any other part of Lake Superior, including the infamous wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, earning this area of the lake the nickname “Shipwreck Coast,” home to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. Because of this Whitefish Point Lighthouse is often seen as a welcoming beacon home for sailors, as well as a symbol of the dangerous nature of Lake Superior.
Crisp Point Lighthouse
Hidden on a deserted shore of Lake Superior just north of Newberry, Michigan, Crisp Point Lighthouse is widely considered one of the Upper Peninsula’s most inaccessible and lonely lighthouses on the mainland.
Originally built in 1903 with the intention of being a Life Saving Station, “Storm Warriors” stayed here, ready to battle the violence of Lake Superior to rescue shipwrecked sailors and bring them back to dry land.
Today you can visit Crisp Point Lighthouse by traveling down a narrow country road through Lake Superior State Forest.
Lake Superior Lighthouses in the Central Upper Peninsula
Au Sable Point Lighthouse
Within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Au Sable Point Lighthouse has stood tall since 1874. The light station includes the lighthouse as well as a brick oil building, a fog signal building, and the keepers house.
All these buildings with different purposes means there’s plenty to see and tour when visiting the grounds. The Au Sable light station is still in operation, but instead of using the older lighting methods, today it uses a smaller, solar-powered light that shines over Lake Superior automatically.
Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse
Near Munising, across the bay from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse marked Munising Harbor as a harbor of refuge for ships on Lake Superior. This wooden lighthouse is located on the southern end of Grand Island and looks especially eerie as it stands alone on the coast.
While the lighthouse is privately owned and cannot be visited, it can still be viewed in a variety of ways, including from Sand Point within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore as well as on the water on either commercial boat tours or a private vessel.
Grand Island Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse
Also known as the Bay Furnace Range Light, Grand Island Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse is located near Christmas, Michigan, west of Munising, in Alger County. Standing 70 feet tall, it was first lit in 1914.
Marquette Harbor Lighthouse
The Marquette Harbor Lighthouse shares its name and location with the Upper Peninsula’s largest town. Since 1853 this light has served as a navigational beacon, guiding ships to the ore docks of Marquette, Michigan.
From here raw materials mined in the Upper Peninsula like iron or copper could be transported to the mills in the lower Great Lakes. Now owned by the city of Marquette, visitors can take a tour of the facility through the Marquette Maritime Museum at regularly scheduled times.
Presque Isle Harbor Breakwater Light
Presque Isle Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse is found on the east side of Presque Isle Harbor in Marquette. When compared to its neighbors in the upper peninsula, this lighthouse is quite new, having been built in 1941 at the end of the breakwater that extends 1,216 feet into Presque Isle Harbor.
So long as the weather is clear and the water is calm, visitors to the lighthouse are welcome to walk the breakwater to the lighthouse. Just be sure to wear sturdy shoes with good grip, since the rocky breakwater can be difficult to traverse.
PRO-TIP: Take some time to explore Marquette’s Black Rocks Cliffs; if you go in the summer you might catch a glimpse of people jumping off the cliffs into Lake Superior below.
Lake Superior Lighthhouses in Michigan’s Western U.P.
Copper Harbor Lighthouse
As the name suggests, the Copper Harbor Lighthouse is located on Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The Copper Harbor Lighthouse was built in the year 1848 with the intention of aiding the transportation of copper ore mined in the Upper Peninsula.
Ships would gather the ore and head east through Lake Superior and down into the lower Great Lakes where the ore would be refined and processed. Today the Copper Harbor Lighthouse is closed to the public and out of commission in favor of the range lights installed in the harbor in 1865.
Rock of Ages Lighthouse
One of the tallest and most powerful beacons of light on the Great Lakes, the Rock of Ages Lighthouse is locted five miles off the northwest tip of Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Located on a rocky outcrop near Isle Royale National Park to warn ships of the dangerous Rock of Ages reef, and the Rock Light is one of the most unique lighthouses on the Great Lakes.
Built in 1908, this lighthouse had a second-order Fresnel lens, which was used in seacoast and warning lights to mark headlands, dangerous oceanic shoals, rocks or reefs. The 117-foot lighthouses has a ten-story tower that once housed up to four light keepers.
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse
At the western entrance to Eagle Harbor, the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse continues to operate, helping to guide ships around the Keweenaw Waterway.
Built in 1871, this is one of several lighthouses constructed in the area to manage the shipment of ores during the Upper Peninsula’s copper mining boom of the mid-late 19th century. Today the lighthouse is now part of the Keweenaw County Historical Society’s Light Station Museum Complex and is open for the public to visit.
Unlike many of its neighbors, the Ontonagon Lighthouse doesn’t sit directly on Lake Superior. Instead, you can find the Ontonagon Lighthouse on the Ontonagon River near its Lake Superior entry.
The purpose of this was to guide ships into the harbor at Ontonagon, which meant heading a little bit upstream into the heart of the town. Today the lighthouse is no longer operational, but is available to tour for the puOther lakes
More Lake Superior Lighthouses
Lake Superior Lighthouses in Minnesota
- Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota
- Grand Marais Lighthouse in Minnesota
- The Apostle island Lighthouses:
- Michigan Island Lighthouse
- Raspberry Island Lighthouse
- Outer Island Lighthouse
- Sand Island Light
- Devils Island Lighthouse
Lake Superior Lighthouses in Canada
- Porphyry Island Lighthouse
- Trowbridge Island Lighthouse
- Stannard Rock Lighthouse
- Thunder Bays Canadian Lighthouse of Lake Superior
More Things to See and Do in Michigan
About the Author-
Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor with mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.