Great Views and Great Brews: Waterfall Week in the Upper Peninsula

“Views and Brews” is happening April 21st – 27th in Marquette, MI.  If you love Michigan waterfalls, craft beer, and scavenger hunts, then this a celebration you won’t want to miss!

Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things to Do in the U.P. tell us what to expect from Waterfall Week 2014. 

Photo by Habibi Photography

Morgan Falls – Photo by Habibi Photography

Waterfall Week, otherwise known as “Views and Brews” is a newer Marquette area event that’s rapidly growing in popularity. Last year’s inaugural event successfully brought hundreds of locals and visitors out of their homes, into the woods, and subsequently into the Marquette area breweries to score a free pint glass.

This year’s event runs from April 21st to April 27th.

How Waterfall Week Works

Just about anyone 21 and over can participate in this fun event. All you need to do is visit a Marquette County waterfall, take a photo of yourself in front of the waterfall and then visit one of the four Marquette area breweries. You then show the bartender the photo, order a beer and you get to keep the special edition “Views and Brews” pint glass.

This year’s event will run much the same as last year’s, but with a couple notable differences – New beers, new prizes and a geocaching scavenger hunt.

Limited Edition Craft Beers

Each of the four Marquette County breweries has whipped up a special craft beer for waterfall week. If you’re a craft beer lover, take heed, this could very well be your only chance to sample one of these custom brews. It breaks down like this:

Ore Dock Brewing Co. – Dead River Drops Saison

Jasper Ridge Brewery and Restaurant – Warner Creek Wheat

Blackrocks Brewery - Yellow Dog Ginger Cream Ale

Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Brewery – Black River Falls Cascadian Dark IIPA

All Ages Scavenger Hunt

This year a family friendly component has been added to waterfall week in the form of a geocaching scavenger hunt. Entry forms for the scavenger hunt can be picked up at the Marquette County Convention & Visitors Bureau located downtown at 337 West Washington St. Marquette, MI as well as participating breweries. The grand prize for the scavenger hunt is an overnight stay at any Marquette County hotel!

The Waterfalls

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Alder Falls – Photo by Habibi Photography

The Marquette area is well known for its waterfalls. In fact, Marquette county has more waterfalls than any other county in Michigan! They local visitor’s bureau even has a very useful waterfall map that I’d highly recommend you get. And the best part is it’s totally free.

Just call the Marquette Visitor’s Bureau at (906) 228-7749 and ask them to mail you their “waterfall map.” They call it the waterfall map but it’s also got a great list of beaches and scenic vistas, all of which have directions listed.

But in case you’re the handheld GPS type, here’s a list of some of the area’s more popular waterfalls. These are also the waterfalls included in the scavenger hunt.

1. Carp River – Morgan Creek Falls (46.505N 87.438W)

2. Carp River – Upper Falls (6.50293N 87.44811W)

3. The Dead River Falls – Forestville (46.56841N 87.44811W)

4. Black River Falls (46.23N 87.46W)

5. Little Garlic River Falls (46.4018N 87.34448W)

6. Warner Creek Falls (46.433N 87.599W)

7. Yellow Dog River 510 Falls (46.7311N 87.70W)

Photo by Habibi Photography

Photo by Habibi Photography

One final note: Bring snowshoes, or at least be prepared to hike through some snow to get to your target waterfall(s). You never know what the weather will be like in the Upper Peninsula and the way this winter has been there’s definitely a chance that a good amount of snow will remain at the end of April.

I know I’m looking forward to seeing the water flowing again. And sampling those new craft beers, too!

Have you visited a Marquette area waterfall? Tell us about your visit. 

JesseLand2111Written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P. on behalf of Travel Marquette Michigan.

Exploring the Eben Ice Caves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things To Do in the U.P. tells us how to have a fantastic Pure Michigan winter adventure at the Eben Ice Caves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

Photo courtesy of Habibi Photography

The Eben Ice caves in Marquette County are one of Michigan’s prime winter attractions. Each winter, once the ice caves start to freeze up (usually sometime in December), visitor’s flock to the tiny town of Eben Junction to see the ice caves and, while they’re out there, support local businesses like the Eben Ice Caves concession stand, the Rock River Cafe and the New Moon Tavern.

Eben Ice Caves – The Basics

The “Rock River Canyon Ice Caves” better known as the Eben Ice Caves, form when melting snow runs over the edge of a small cliff and freezes, forming “ice caves” Much like the large ice formations along Munising’s Grand Island and parts of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, if you were to visit here in the summer you would see little to no water running over the edge.

It’s the perfect combination of a slow snow melt and frigid temperatures that causes these “caves” of ice to form.

The Hike to the Caves

Photo courtesy of Things to Do in the U.P.

This isn’t an attraction where you can pull up in your car, walk a few feet and be done. It’s not a long hike, but yes, you will have to get out and stretch your legs. And for the pet owners out there, yes, the area is pet friendly. Each time I’ve visited the ice caves I’ve seen more than a few dogs on the trail.

The hike from the parking area to the ice caves is about .75 miles. The first .25 mile stretch is a very flat walk through a farmer’s field. And just a note on that, the farmer allows people like you and me to pass through the field at no charge and if the kind family that owns the land ever stopped allowing this, the hike to the ice caves would be much longer. In addition to that, the land owners now offer portable bathrooms in the parking area at no charge. So, show your thanks by purchasing a hot beverage or a snack at their concession stand if you’re able!

A Word on Snowshoes and Ice Cleats

Photo courtesy of Things to Do in the U.P.

After a foot of snow got dumped on the area just two days before my recent visit, I asked a friend who lives in nearby Chatam if I should bring snowshoes. “It’s never a bad idea to bring the shoes,” he said, “but I”m guessing it’ll be packed down by then.”

He was right. Snowshoes would have only made the hike more difficult. So if you have them, bring them in case you happen to visit right after a big snowstorm. Otherwise, wear ice cleats.

Some form of ice cleats (I like Yaktrax but any of them should help!) can go a long way toward enhancing your Eben Ice Caves experience. Trust me. On any given day, about half the people visiting the caves are wearing cleats, and the other half wish they had them. The main reason is that, with ice cleats, you’re able to walk around inside the ice caves on relatively sure footing. And without them, it’s a little treacherous. The ice inside the caves is very smooth so traditional rubber boots tend to slide around quite a bit.

But another reason to wear cleats is that the trail out to the caves has some steep ups and downs. You’ll see many spots where people slide down hills on their bottoms, and then struggle to get up the other side. In short, if you’re wearing cleats (like myself and my cohorts were on our last outing) you’ll be able to walk right up and down those slippery spots. On my last visit, a college aged girl looked a little stunned as I walked right by her on a slippery hill and said “Oh, so that’s what it’s like when you have traction.”

Okay, enough about the ice cleats. You get the point!

Getting There

Photo courtesy of Habibi Photography

The Eben Ice Caves used to be a little hard to find, but no longer. Just set your GPS for Eben Junction, MI. (Or use Google Maps to find it.) From M-94 in Eben Junction, turn north onto Eben Road and drive about 1.5 miles to Frey Road. Turn right on Frey Road and drive to the end (if you can) or if it’s a busy day just find a spot to park along the road. It’s not unusual to see fifty or more cars parked here on a nice weekend day. Also, Eben Road and Frey Road have yellow signs on them that say “Ice Caves”, so keep an eye out for those.

All in all, though it’s a bit of a drive out to the ice caves, I’d highly recommend checking them out! As far as Michigan ice caves go, these are the most accessible I know of.

Have you been to the Eben Ice Caves? What did you think?

 

Written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P. on behalf of Travel Marquette Michigan.

 

 

How to Experience Sled Dog Racing in the Upper Peninsula

Winter in Michigan is a great time for snow sports such as skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, but if you’re looking for a different type of winter sports action, then you won’t want to miss the UP 200 and other sled dog races around the state. Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things to Do in the U.P. gives us the inside scoop on sled dog racing in the Upper Peninsula.

The UP 200

Photo courtesy of aaronpeterson.net

The UP 200 sled dog race is one of the premier sled dog races in the country. Mushers from all over travel to the Marquette, Michigan each winter to compete in this race. They love it not only for the beautiful and challenging terrain, but also for the warm welcome they receive from the huge crowd that assembles in Marquette to cheer them on.

The start of the race is truly something to see. The city of Marquette shuts down Washington Street, which runs through the heart of Marquette’s downtown district, and covers the street with snow. This is where thousands of people will gather onto the sidewalks on the evening of Friday, February 14th to watch the dog sled teams embark on the 240 mile course.

The mushers travel from Marquette toward Munising, through sections of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and then on to Grand Marais. Grand Marais is the layover point, where the teams will arrive sometime the morning of Saturday, February 15th. After spending a few hours in Grand Marais to rest and refuel, the teams will head back to Marquette sometime late Saturday afternoon and evening.

The Midnight Run

Photo courtesy of aaronpeterson.net

And then there’s the Midnight Run, an exciting ninety-mile race that takes place between the start and finish of the U.P. 200. Midnight run mushers leave Marquette from Washington Street shortly after the U.P. 200 mushers. However, their course is different.

In the past Midnight Run teams have finished in Grand Marais. New this year the teams will race to Chatam, then turn around and finish in Marquette’s Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

Where is the best place to see the dogs?

One of the most popular questions that gets asked by spectators is “where’s the best place to se the dogs?” Luckily, there are many great options.

Washington Street in Marquette is the most popular viewing area by far because the races start right there and it’s located in the heart of downtown. However, for those looking to avoid the crowds or take in a different stage of the race there are definitely other options.

Photo courtesy of aaronpeterson.net

Not far from downtown Marquette, the welcome center offers a great spot to view the teams as they head into the woods. Restrooms are available and food and drinks will be provided here at no cost.

The Prince of Peace Church in Harvey also offers a great viewing area. They’ll have a bonfire to help spectators stay warm. Restrooms are available inside the church, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.

The Lakenenland Sculpture Park offers another great viewing spot as the mushers race right by there.

The Downtown Showdown

And if you’re in Marquette for the UP 200 and Midnight Run, be sure to check out the Downtown Showdown rail jam competition on Saturday night. The snow from Washington Street gets moved to nearby Front Street where an awesome course of rails is set up on which snowboarders and skiers will test their skills. It’s a great time for skiers, snowboarders and spectators alike.

So plan a trip to Marquette, Michigan for the weekend of February 14th, 15th and 16th! It’ll be an action packed weekend full of great events!

If you can’t make it to the race, there are plenty of other ways to experience sled dog racing the Upper Peninsula. Visit michigan.org to see a full list of sled dog tours available near you. 

Have you been to a sled dog race in Michigan? Tell us about your experience. 

This post was written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P. on behalf of Travel Marquette Michigan.