From Superior, Wisconsin, we quickly made our way into Michigan. The upper peninsula, or the ‘Yoo-Pee’, is where we will be exploring for awhile. We’ve only been to the lower peninsula of Michigan and loved it so this is a very exciting place for us to visit on this trip.
Our first stop was Porcupine Mountain. As we drove along Lake Superior, it was just a short detour to this beautiful spot along the lake.
We climbed up to the top of the mountain with portions of the road at 10+ percent grade, happy about our decision to drop the Airstream at the visitor center for a bit. From here we have a beautiful view of Lake of the Clouds.
It is sort of ironic that his place is call Lake of the Clouds. I am sure there are days when the lake is just shrouded in moisture. But it is only slightly over 1,000ft in elevation.
It was beautiful but the mosquitoes were enjoying our stay here probably more than us.
Our stay at Porcupine Mountain was short as we are headed to Houghton, Michigan to check out Keweenaw National Historic Park.
Keeweenaw National Historic Park was established in 1992 to celebrate this regions history as a copper mining company town. Over 4 billion pounds of copper were extracted from this area. Now nearly the whole town has been designated a national historic site.
The visitor center is at the town of Calumet. It is located at one of the historical buildings where the mining company operated.
Sometimes when you jump around on the stage of a National Park visitor center,
you break your flip flop.
But that did not stop our Mila for finishing her Junior Ranger book to earn her badge.
Check out these fresh hats they got to wear during the swear-in ceremony.
With so much copper being extracted out of the ground, Calumet is nicknamed Coppertown, USA.
We stopped for a bite at one of the local eateries. Here is one of the original bars that the miners dropped in after a long day of work to wind down. It is called The Michigan House Cafe and Red Jacket Brewing Company. According to local newspapers, this business dates back to 1895 when it was called The Michigan House Hotel and Buffet and was popular with local patrons of its time.
Another unit of the National Park is the Quincy Mine.
We didn’t take the tour of the mine as it would have been very expensive for all 5 of us. Not to mention how the kids would have reacted in a dark mine shaft. We opted to just roam about the outside of the steam hoist.
Right beyond the steam hoist are ruins of buildings that once housed various mining offices and its staff.
It has fallen into quite a bit of disrepair.
We did our best to respect and get a closer look of the past.
Marlene has been adding a new routine with the girls’ homeschooling curriculum. They have been creating a memory book for themselves of the things that they do and see.
This is Mila’s drawing of her dancing with her sister. She says this was her favorite memory of Keweenaw. I am guessing she doesn’t mean the moment when she broke her flip flop.
Back in Houghton, we stopped at the visitor center for Isle Royale National Park which is a couple hours on a boat west of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Unfortunately, the only boat that goes from here is the Ranger and it does not offer any day trips.
We are not equipped to haul any gear for any distance to be able to spend the night on the island. We had to settle for just the visitor center.
We did get to see Ranger up close and personal. It is the largest vehicle in the entire National Park Service vehicle fleet and it agreed to pose for a pic with the Mish.
From the Keweenaw Peninsula, we continued along the Lake Superior coast line and begin making our way to the next stop: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Now that we are inching closer to the east coast, there are a lot more opportunities to check out abandoned buildings. This is Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette. This building was once the largest orphanage in the Midwest and is supposedly super haunted. Sad stories sprinkle the internet about abuse and death but the one thing we know for sure is numerous native children were taken from their families and placed here in the name of assimilation. I would *love* to peek inside one of these abandoned buildings but it was not possible this time around.
When we got here it was really windy so we wound up parking and hanging out in the Mish for the afternoon.
This is the ore dock in Marquette. It off loaded iron ore from ships back in the day. Iron ore was found in many places in the upper peninsula and it is a common sight along the shore of Lake Superior. Now it is just a cool structure to look at and a nice spot for birds to congregate.
We left Marquette and made our way to a small town just west of Munising, Michigan called Christmas, Michigan. Here is a nice campground that had several spots open called Bay Furnace.
This giant structure is how this place got its name. This is a reconstructed blast furnace once used to smelt iron ore.
Bay Furnace is just a few miles away from Munising which is where one of the Pictured Rocks visitor center is located.
We inquired there about a nice and easy hike for kids and were surprised to find that a cool waterfall is within Munising city limits.
Since it was very warm and sunny while we were here, it is hard to imagine that this lake practically freezes entirely in the winter but I know that it happens.
We spent a few days around the area exploring everything we can on the lakeshore.
Here is a spot called Miner’s Castle.
That tower at the end of the bay looks like a man-made castle but it is in fact a natural formation.
We were pretty high up above the lake on a cliff but the park service was thoughtful enough to have built a window for the little ones to get a good look.
No mini heart attacks for us parents today.
Ava even spotted a fish swimming in the clear water below.
We took another hike to see a lighthouse that the ranger recommended and it turned out to be quite a hike for the little ones.
There was no shortage of complaining for these tired legs.
But suddenly when there is fun sand to play on, tired legs no more.
Lake Superior is well known for having hundreds of shipwrecks.
Some of them can still be seen deteriorating on the shoreline.
What could be dangerous about standing on hundred year old wooden ship ribs with rusty metal bars sticking out of them?
Finally we made it to Au Sable Point Lighthouse. Unfortunately there were no more tours for the day.
We settled for views of Lake Superior and wild flowers.
Oh yeah, and the mosquitoes. The mosquitoes were the only motivation for us to keep trekking along the trail in hopes that they couldn’t keep up.
But eventually Mila pooped out and got a free ride for the last mile of the hike.
After we left Munising, we continued on to Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
The Upper Tahquamenon Falls is the third largest by volume east of the Mississippi. Only Niagara Falls and Cohoes Falls in New York have it beat. It spans 200 ft across and drops 40 ft to the bottom. At peak flow, it measures at an impressive rate of 50,000 gallons per second.
The water is brown from the cedar swamp up the river.
As we are headed towards the eastern end of Upper Peninsula Michigan, we will soon be starting to head south away from Lake Superior. We decided before we do that, we will make one last trip north to Whitefish Point Lighthouse.
Whitefish Point Light house is the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior.
Every boat entering and leaving Lake Superior has to first pass Whitefish Point.
The beach was nice except for these nasty biting black flies that would not leave us alone.
Some how they can bite right through my socks.
We are outta here!
For the night, we made it to the town of Sault Saint Marie, Michigan.
We had dinner at The Antler which is known for having over 200 mounted animals on its walls.
Our final stop in the upper peninsula before we cross the Makinac Bridge down the the lower peninsula is St. Ignace.
After our morning drive down from Sault Saint Marie, it was a nice refreshing stop to get a bite and let the kids play in the water fountains along the shoreline.
From here, we say good bye the the yoo-pee and continue our way towards the northeast.
We loved our time up here and for those who have not experienced this area, it is definitely one of the most underrated regions of the country.
Until next time.
over and out,