Visit Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula
Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula is a true natural marvel.
With endless acres of thick national forest; rushing waterfalls and pristine lakes, it’s a paradise for nature lovers that begs to be explored.
There’s also plenty of sparkling water.
Lake Superior – the largest freshwater lake in the world – provides miles of rugged coastline and wide beach.
Explore Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula
The unique landscape of the western Upper Peninsula offers something for everyone. Trails for hiking and biking; rivers for kayaking and lakes for fishing…it’s all there, waiting to be explored in all its glory.
It’s the reason many visitors are drawn to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula annually: the opportunity to wander the open wilderness and revel in the stunning natural beauty.
We’ve found the best spots in the counties of the western Upper Peninsula, including Houghton, Keweenaw, Ontonagon, Gogebic, Baraga, and Iron counties.
Read on to discover what each of these stunning areas has to offer.
Houghton, home of Michigan Technological University, is one of the largest cities in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Named one of the 100 best small towns in America, it is the heart of Michigan’s copper country region.
Houghton’s rich heritage is deeply connected to the once- flourishing copper industry that drew thousands from around the world to the area in hopes of “striking it rich” during the copper boom of the mid-1800’s.
Wander the town a bit and you’re sure to recognize signs of the area’s Finnish and Norwegian origins in both the traditional cuisine as well as culturally-themed fairs and festivals.
Things to Do in Houghton, MI
Houghton is the main jumping-off point for Isle Royale National Park, an island in Lake Superior reachable only by water or air, and an undeniable outdoors adventurer’s dream.
Houghton’s pretty downtown, located just across the Portage River from pretty Hancock, is a draw for visitors. Fun shops and restaurants for Shelden Avenue, and nearby parks and recreational spaces abound.
Be sure and check out these six don’t-miss spots:
A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum
The A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum was founded in 1902. It is the official Mineral Museum of Michigan. Inside, you will find the main museum, the Phyllis and John Seaman Garden, the Copper Pavilion, and the Mineral Preparation Annex. Its host to mineral collections from all over the world.
A must for culture and history buffs, the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw is a well-curated collection documenting both the area’s cultural and natural history.
As the birthplace of ice hockey in the United States, the importance of this unassuming stadium in downtown thought can’t be underestimated. Dee Stadium, or, “The Dee” was the home of the first game played back in 1902. Sports fans will be sure and want to check out this combination ballroom/ice-skating and hockey rink and pay homage to this historic spot.
Pewabic Street Community Garden
This downtown Houghton garden brings people together with soil and seeds , and this volunteer community garden is one you won’t want to miss. The concept is surprisingly simple: rent a plot of land and start gardening alongside other community members, and it works beautifully.
Isle Royale National Park
This 45-mile long island is not for the faint of heart: unreachable by land, a trip to Isle Royale is outdoor adventure in its purest form.
It’s a three and a half hour ferry ride across Lake Superior to the isolated island and strict rules regarding this preservation of this natural spot must be observed. Boaters of all types join hikers and scuba divers in flocking to this special place where wolves and moose still run wild. Pick up the ferry to the island in Houghton.
Where to Eat in Houghton, MI
There’s plenty of places to eat in Houghton with a broad menu, serving each palette. Here are some great spots in Houghton for great food:
- Keweenaw Brewing Co
- Roy’s Pasties & Bakery
Where to Stay in Houghton
If you’re looking to stay overnight in Houghton, try these spots:
- Country Inn & Suites
- Quality Inn & Suites
- Holiday Inn Express
The Keweenaw Peninsula
It may be Michigan’s least populated county, but it offers the widest variety of outdoor activities around. From Snowmobiling, Downhill Skiing, Sea Kayaking, Snowshoeing to Dog Sledding, Mountain Biking, Waterfall Exploration and Fishing, Keweenaw truly has something for everyone.
Keweenaw is named for the Ojibwe word for “land crossing between two bodies of water,” a reference to Portage Lake requiring crossing to gain access to the Keweenaw Peninsula.
The Keweenaw Peninsula, which juts out into wild Lake Superior, is known as Copper Country. Deep deposits of copper were discovered in the mid-1800’s, setting off a boom as speculators rushed to the area.
The Keweenaw area is home to some of the oldest exposed rock in the world, and you’ll find abandoned copper mines and ghosts towns…a perfect opportunity for the brave to explore Michigan’s rich history.
Things to Do in Keweenaw
Keweenaw gets more than 270 inches of snow each and every year. With 230-miles of snowmobile trails, it is a great place to rip across the snow or on the shoreline of Lake Superior.
The Keweenaw area is home to Mount Bohemia, one of the best downhill ski destinations east of the Rockies. Named 3rd Best Ski Resort in North America by USA Today, Mount Bohemia is a premier ski resort, with a vertical drop of 900 feet and a large backcountry glade. It’s also home to the only triple black to run in the Midwest.
Go out and grab a paddle for the Keweenaw Water Trail. It has been established since 1995, and is a favorite among the canoe and kayak crowd.
Ever seen dog-sledding up close? If not, this is the place to see it, thanks to the abundant snow that blankets the region and provides the perfect terrain for the sport. Home to one of the top dog sledding races, the CopperDog 150, the Keweenaw area race that covers 150 miles of snow-covered land.
There are a large number of trails available for mountain bikers, including the Copper Harbor IMBA Silver-Level Ride Center offering 37 miles of a single track.
Where to Eat in the Keweenaw Peninsula
Here are some great spots in Keweenaw for food:
- The Pines
- Harbor Haus
Where to Stay in the Keweenaw Peninsula
If you’re looking to stay overnight in the Keweenaw Peninsula, try these spots:
- Keweenaw Mountain Lodge
- Keweenaw Castle
Rugged Ontonagon, home to acres of old-growth forests and some of the least populated country in Michigan, has long been a favorite destination for outdoors enthusiasts.
Stunning vistas, countless waterfalls perfect for exploring and a multitude of clear rivers and lakes makes this a lonely spot in the far western reaches of the Upper Peninsula a must-see for travelers.
Named for the Ojibwe word, “Nondon-organ,” which means “hunting river,” the miles of undeveloped country are simply breathtaking.
Ontonagon is also home to the Porcupine Mountains and Lake of the Clouds, one of the most-photographed spots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula featuring dramatic vistas of sprawling, open land.
Things to Do in Ontonagon
Ontonagon Historical Museum
For history buffs, a visit to a new location isn’t much without a museum. The historical museum contains a number of artifacts and exhibits from the early history of Ontonagon (including the copper rush of the 19th century) and is a fun stop if you visit the area.
Porcupine Mountains Ski Area
Even the most serious skiers will find a great run here, home of the second highest vertical drop in Michigan. Catch great views of Lake Superior, too, as you fly down the slopes.
Grab a sled (or rent one at one the nearby outlets) and head out on a trail into the beautiful landscape of the Ontonagon and Porcupine Mountain Area. Trails lead through the spectacular wilderness and there’s even an observation point to overlook the Lake of the Clouds in the winter months.
A jewel of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Porcupine Mountains area is one of the few expanses of wilderness in the Midwest. Visit the 60,000 acre Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, home to waterfalls, crystal clear waters and trails to explore it all.
Where to Eat in Ontonagon
Ontonagon has a number of restaurants; try these great spots:
- Konteka Black Bear Restaurant
- Paul’s Superior View Restaurant
- Syl’s Cafe
Where to Stay in Ontonagon
If you’re looking to stay overnight in Ontonagon, try these spots:
- Mountain View Lodges
- Scott’s Superior Inn
- Porcupine Lodge UP – White Pine
The western-most county in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, this four-season vacation destination is home to Michigan’s largest inland lake, Lake Gogebic.
With more than 300 inland lakes and acres of old-growth forest, this naturally beautiful area is a perfect spot to reconnect with nature and take in the beauty of Michigan.
The name “Gogebic” likely comes from the Ojibwe word for “body of water hanging on high, ” which aptly describes the landscape of the area.
Things to Do in Gogebic County, MI in the Western Upper Peninsula
Mountain bikers will find plenty of trails, back roads, and logging roads waiting for a ride. Be sure and check out the Pines and Mines trail system or the Copper Peak Mountain Bike Park.
Gogebic County is a destination for campers of all types who revel in the solitude of pristine forest. There’s great camping grounds at the Lake Gogebic State Park or the Union Bay Campground, or Curry Park. More can be found in the Bergland Township Park, Ontonagon County Park, and the Ontonagon County Park.
Lake Gogebic has long been a must-visit destination for fishing year-round, with a wide variety of catch including walleye, jumbo perch and smallmouth bass.
Lake Gogebic State Park – Explore this beautiful lake, a favorite with the fishing community, and catch glimpses of the area wildlife: it’s not rare to spot loons or eagles circling overhead in this gorgeous piece of Michigan.
Where to Eat in Gogebic
There’s lots to eat in Gogebic. Here are some spots in Gogebic for food:
- JW’s BBQ & Brew
- Antonio’s Restaurant
- Hoop’s Holler Tavern
Where to Stay in Gogebic
If you’re looking to stay overnight in Gogebic, try these spots:
- Days Inn
- Gogebic Lodge
Baraga County Michigan
Located on Lake Superior’s L’Anse Bay, Baraga County is also the gateway to Michigan’s famed Keweenaw Peninsula.
It’s small but mighty: there’s plenty of places to sightsee, and even the casual traveler will be drawn in by the area’s impressive natural beauty.
In addition to its stunning Lake Superior coastline, the area features some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula. Canyon Falls, which has a 30-foot drop over black rock – is simply beautiful.
Things to Do in Baraga
Baraga County Historical Museum
This barrier-free museum is a fun stop if you’re in the area. Operated by the Baraga County Historical Society, the museum provides a glimpse into life in the early days of the area, featuring interesting information about the cultural and geological heritage of Baraga.
Baraga State Park
Scenic Baraga State Park has a great view of the Keweenaw Bay of Lake Superior, and is a popular spot for visitors to the area. The park offers ORV riding, fishing, hiking, swimming, kayaking and boating among other activities.
Canyon Falls – this stunningly beautiful box canyon is also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Upper Peninsula.” The waterfall is a must-see for visitors to the area and is accessible after a short hike along the Sturgeon River.
Eat in Baraga
Find some great places to eat in Baraga here:
- Baraga Drive In
- Irene’s Pizza
- Lucky 7’s
Where to Stay in Baraga
If you’re looking to stay overnight in Baraga, try these spots:
- Baraga Lakeside Inn
- Hilltop Motel
- L’Anse Motel & Suites
Visit Iron County, MI
Iron County is a haven for vacationers seeking quiet and unspoiled natural Michigan at its finest.
While it’s one of the only Upper Peninsula counties that does not touch the Great Lakes, it is not lacking in water.
Located in the far western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Iron County is home to more than 100 inland lakes, countless waterfalls, rivers and old-growth forest.
Things to Do in Iron County
Take a step back in time and learn about the logging and mining industries: oft-overlooked yet integral to Michigan’s economy in the past.
Iron County Historical Museum
Designated as the “Log Cabin Capital of Michigan,” this sprawling museum complex include log cabins and other period buildings providing insight into the history of Iron County. A neat spot for visitors of all ages.
Pentoga Park – This comfortable family park near the Brule River Trail is built on the former site of an Ojibwe village on the shores of Lake Chicagon. Spend a few hours or the day taking in the park and nearby Crystal Falls.
Ski Brule- A favorite destination for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, this premier ski destination offers 17 runs and a terrain park.
Where to Eat in Iron County
Here are some must-try pots to eat in Iron County:
- Amasa Sawblade
- The Pasty Corner
Where to Stay in Iron County
If you’re looking to stay overnight in Iron Counties, try these spots:
- AmericInn Motel & Suites
- Chicaugon Lake Inn
- Lac O’ Season Resort
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.