Learn about the
Western UP area of Michigan by reading Michigan’s Western U.P - An
Anytime Destination by Charlie Spence, Aviation Writer. It features
a mini, but thorough tour of the destination, plus all you'll need
to know to plan your trip including getting there, objective
information on places to stay and eat, and things to do. Enjoy!
Michigan’s Western U.P - An
by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer and WTA
Pick any time of the year and it’s the right
time for a visit to Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula. This unique area has a
diversity of places, activities, and attractions that fit every season and every
personal search for vacation pleasure.
In the winter, the Big Snow Country offers some
of the best Alpine skiing in the Midwest. Five fine ski areas are within an
hour’s drive of each other. They offer more than a hundred trails providing fun
and challenges for skiers from novice to expert. Choose from downhill or
cross-country, snowboarding or snowmobiling. There are more than 100 trails for
skiers and snowboarders of any experience level. The Western Upper Peninsula is
at the hub of more than 2,000 miles of trails for the snowmobile crowd. Vehicle
rentals are available and you will even find refreshments along the trails.
The three mountains - Indianhead, Big Powder
Horn, and Blackjack - offer challenging slopes and beautiful trails and
admissions are interchangeable. Select a two, three, or four-day package options
and ski a different mountain each day if you choose.
Children Ready for Downhill Ski
Photo Credit: Indianhead Mountain Resort
Knowing that all moments can’t be spent bundled
in ski clothes and schussing, the lodges make the apres-ski times pleasurable
with a selection of dining options, spas, pools, and other recreational
Once the snow starts to melt, a whole new
variety of pleasure sites open for you. Trees begin to green up, trails beckon
for hiking or biking, and sights abound with waterfalls, breath-taking views,
historic structures, and numerous golf courses. Short hikes or backpacking
explorations of the forests take you into beautiful areas. By all means take in
the Copper Peak Adventure. Ride the 800-foot chair lift to the crest of the hill
and then take the 18-story elevator to the observation decks atop a giant
structure. From here you will have a 360-degree panorama of unobstructed views
of this section of Michigan and the Midwest. From this vantage point it is
possible to see more than 2,500 square miles overlooking Lake Superior and the
hardwood forests. With the right conditions, you might see the Minnesota
northern shore of the lake some 85 miles away near the Canadian border. In the
fall, the foliage is incredibly beautiful, so be certain to have the camera
ready. Copper Peak is open Tuesday through Sunday from mid-June through Labor
Day, and on weekends from Memorial Day to mid-June and after Labor Day while the
foliage is still beautiful.
And speaking of cameras, if there are children
along, take them to pose by Hiawatha, a 52-foot tall Native American statue
towering over Burma Street in the city of Ironwood. The chamber of commerce
readily admits it was erected primarily to attract visitors, and that it does.
Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula.
Photo Credit: Travel Michigan
Water lovers will have a problem here - a
problem of trying to choose which of the many fine water attractions will be
enjoyed and which will linger in the memory as a “wish I had” experience. Lake
Superior is really that - superior. Because of its size, it is more like an
ocean than a lake. Boats are available half day or all day for fishing and
pleasure cruises. Charter a boat for fishing and the price includes all fishing
tackle and fish cleaning. Most of the all day charters include a “no fish, no
pay” guarantee. Sunset cruises are available, usually between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00
p.m. You can explore the shoreline and the mouths of rivers yourself in a kayak.
Don’t be surprised if a bald eagle gives you the eye along the way.
Lake Superior is the most obvious water
attraction in the area, but it is just one of many. More than 300 other lakes,
hundreds of miles of rivers, and more than 50 waterfalls in just one county
provide the setting for exciting water activities and “ahh-inspiring” beauty.
Here are some prime fishing waters - walleye, small mouth bass, northern pike,
and jumbo perch.
Fisherman at Agate Waterfalls.
Photo Credit: Raymond J. Malace
Beautiful, thunderous, and majestic waterfalls
abound in the area. There are more than 100, all well marked and most with
parking areas nearby. Hiking trails will take you to some; canoes and kayaks are
available for you to paddle off to fish many of the lakes and streams.
If you enjoy a mystery, one evening drive to
observe the Pauling Mystery Light phenomenon. First sighted many years ago, “The
Light” still defies explanation, although there are many theories and legends.
It can be observed almost every night in the dense woods once darkness has set
in. Sightseers describe it in various ways. Usually it is noting a faint glow,
seemingly rising from below the horizon. Then a bright light appears. Some have
seen red lights dancing in the glow. It has been seen for periods of a couple of
minutes to hovering more than a quarter of an hour before dropping back below
the horizon. Some say it is the spirit of a long-dead mail carrier ambushed by
Indians more than a century ago. Others suggest it is the ghost of an engineer
killed in a nearby railroad accident years ago. Aliens, perhaps? Skeptics put
forth that it might be automobile lights…but over so many, many years…and
appearing for such varying lengths of time…? Draw your own conclusions.
The national, state, and local parks are
attractive wilderness and nature locations where you might sight a variety of
birds and animals. It is estimated that between 15,000 and 19,000 black bears
inhabit the area. You may spot one as you explore their habitat, but more than
likely they will sense your odor first and scamper away. But, you should be
alert and never leave food and equipment unattended.
There is rustic charm, small-town hospitality,
natural wonders, Las Vegas style gambling, and year-round attractions to please
you at Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
How To Get There
If you are planning to arrive by
air, there is commuter airline service into the Ironwood Airport
from Minneapolis. Driving from the east, take Interstate 75 out of
Detroit north to cross between Lakes Michigan and Huron , then
connect with state highway 2 west. Out of Chicago take highways
41/45 north to connect with highway 2.
Where To Stay
Because the U.P. has so much to
offer and attracts many visitors, there are numerous and varied
accommodations. Facilities are available in a number of small
communities and some specifically at the ski centers. Prices range
from $20 to $40 a night to $75 and up. Prices will vary with the
season and whether or not that particular facility is geared to a
special season. Select the time of year you want to visit and your
rates might be less in off seasons.
You can check rates and book your
room and rental car at WTA’s Online Travel Booking Service at
discounts may apply.
Notice: This information is current as of January 2007. It is recommended that
you contact the establishments mentioned above to determine any changes to the