Five Reasons to Stay Out After Dark in Northern Michigan

Landscape photographer, Aubrieta V. Hope, invites us to venture north this summer and enjoy the magic of a Pure Michigan night sky.

Very few places on earth are as beautiful and melodic as Northern Michigan after sunset.  The night sky beckons us with a million, twinkling reasons to stay up late.  And, the wild creatures call us as well.  Coyotes cry out from distant hilltops, their voices joined by cicadas, frogs, and songbirds.  Unlike many parts of the U.S., where city lights outshine the stars and traffic noises drown out the sounds of wildlife, the night is naturally dark and alive in Northern Michigan.

For the most vivid night skies, visit a park or rural area near one of the Great Lakes, such as Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, or Headlands International Dark Sky Park.  Spritz on some bug spray, pack a blanket and snacks, pop a headlamp on your head (the kind with a red-light setting), and try these ideas for experiencing the night sky.

1.  Stay and Enjoy the Twilight Glow 

Many people watch the sunset and leave, missing the beauty and peace of twilight.  Stay for the encore!  That’s when the sky catches fire, glowing red, orange, and pink, the embers burning to charcoal, and deepening to blue until the stars emerge and night falls.  Listen for the music of the night, the chorus of wildlife, and the whisper of wind and water.

MI15-0705-9944 Red Barn at Twilight by Aubrieta V Hope Michigan Scenery

Red Barn at Twilight by Aubrieta V Hope

2.  Take a Walk in the Moonlight  

The sight of a full moon rising, casting a silver path across the water is mesmerizing. In open areas, such as beaches or dunes, even a waning moon shines quite brightly.  Wander at will, but bring along your red-light headlamp to preserve your night vision in case you need extra light.

MI14-0561-1792 Full Moon over Glen Lake by Aubrieta V Hope

Full Moon over Glen Lake by Aubrieta V Hope

3.  Catch the Northern Lights

What can be more memorable than seeing the northern lights sweep across the sky?  To increase your chances of catching them, spend time in a dark, open area with a clear view to the north.  If you notice the northern horizon brightening just after nightfall, stick around!  It just might be the northern lights. Many websites and phone apps provide northern lights forecasts.  I use www.softservenews.com and www.swpc.noaa.gov.

MI15-0701-9649 Northern Lights Lime Lake by Aubrieta Hope Michigan Scenery

Northern Lights Lime Lake by Aubrieta V Hope

MI14-0579-7751 Northern Lights at Miners Beach by Aubrieta V Hope Michigan Scenery

Northern Lights at Miners Beach by Aubrieta V Hope

4.  Look for Ghosts in a Ghost Town

Michigan has a surprising number of ghost towns that are spooky-fun to stroll at night (unless prohibited). The past always seems much closer after dark!  My favorite ghost towns are at Glen Haven and South Manitou Island in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  I’ve not met any ghosts there (yet).  But, I have seen beautiful night skies above each.  (Glen Haven is a great place to watch the northern lights.)

MI13-0526-1083 Starry Night at Glen Haven Historic Village by Aubrieta V Hope

Starry Night at Glen Haven Historic Village by Aubrieta V Hope

5.  Make a Wish Upon a Shooting Star

You won’t need a telescope on a clear, moonless night in Northern Michigan to see the stars.  But you will need lots of wishes: shooting stars happen all the time!  Sometimes, as in this scene, shooting stars and the Milky Way appear simultaneously.  This year, the best nights for wishing will be August 9-13 (during the Perseid Meteor Showers). The peak of the showers will be August 12.

MI15-0701-9765 Shooting Stars at D H Day Barn by Aubrieta V Hope Michigan Scenery

Shooting Stars at D.H. Day Barn” by Aubrieta V Hope

MI14-0606-0758 Aubrieta Hope for Pure Michigan BlogAubrieta V. Hope is a scenic photographer and writer with a special interest in Northern and Upper Michigan.  Her images are available as prints, digital downloads, and Michigan souvenirs.  Visit her website, www.michiganscenery.com, check out her Michigan Scenery Facebook Page, or stop by Petoskey Pete’s in Glen Arbor.

Nine Things You Might Not Have Known About The Soo Locks

Engineer’s Weekend in Sault Ste. Marie is the last Friday in June. There’s something for everyone, historic open houses, spectacular vistas and the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the great Soo Locks

Check out these nine interesting facts about the Soo Locks to inspire your visit from Sault Ste. Marie Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Photo courtesy of Sault Ste. Marie Convention and Visitor's Bureau

Photo courtesy of Sault Ste. Marie Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

A man-made marvel and the busiest lock system in the world, by cargo tonnage, yes the Soo Locks! On average, between seven and ten thousand ships come through the locks during the shipping season each year.  Built in 1855, these locks connect Lake Superior to Lake Huron and beyond.  We have repeat visitors every season; they call themselves Boat Nerds, that watch ships from all over the world use this free lock system.  Now here are some facts about the locking system and the St. Marys River.

$500.4 Billion value attributed to the iron ore shipped through the Soo Locks each year. An average of 80 million tons of cargo moves through them each year.

7,000 passages each year – Crews at the Soo Locks complete these lockages during the 42- week- long navigations season. They are open 24 hours a day.  Can you take your personal boat through the locks? Yes, as long as you have a motor and permission from the lockmaster.

2,342 miles- ships from all over the world visit this port as the locks are a part of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, which connects Duluth, Minnesota to the Atlantic!

22 Million gallons of water to lift a boat. The locks are powered by gravity itself!  Water moves in and out of the lock chambers by just opening and closing valves.

1000 foot boats- There are 13-1000 footers on the Great Lakes, and the largest boat that comes through the Soo Locks is the Paul R. Tregurtha, in at 1013 feet 6 inches which is larger than three football fields! The first vessels on the great lakes were 40 foot-long canoes.

Mikel B Classen

Photo courtesy of Mikel B Classen via Sault Ste. Marie CVB

9 hours between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, it takes a freighter about nine hours to pass through the St. Mary’s River system

21 foot drop- A thick layer of bedrock holds back the waters of Lake Superior where it joins the St. Marys River. This drop prevented boats from passing through. This reddish sandstone lines most of Lake Superior southern shores and is about 1000 feet-thick.   The Fairbanks Scale Company, which is still in business today, built the first permanent lock, State Lock.

3-4 cents per ton- From 1855 to 1881, this was the toll, but today it is free.

The propeller in Soo Locks Park is from a steamer named the Independence, which exploded just northwest of today’s locks.  One crewman is said to have survived a trip down the rapids on a hay bale from the ship.

Now that you know more about the Soo Locks, come and visit us during Engineer’s Weekend, when you can go into the locks and get up close and personal with this engineering marvel! Can’t make it that one day of the year? You can visit the Soo Locks Park anytime between late March and Mid-January to see the freighters go through the locks.

Engineer’s Day is always the last Friday in June, which falls on the 30th in 2017. See what Engineer’s Weekend is all about in the video below.

 

Have you been to the Soo Locks? Tell us about your experience!

Lake Advice from Our Fans: What to Do in the Upper Peninsula

Our Facebook fans have been giving us great advice on their favorite things to do all around Pure Michigan. Next on our list is the Upper Peninsula, home to iconic Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls. Here is a round-up of what to do and see in the U.P.

Find your lake this summer by visiting michigan.org/lakeeffect

One of my favorite places is High Rock Point–the very tip of the Keweenaw. The road to High Rock is “unimproved” which means it’s bad in the best ways possible: rocky, bumpy, rutted and muddy. It’s an adventure just to get there, and when you do, you’ll find that you are totally alone. The sights and sounds are Pure Michigan. – Marilynn Neher Bachorik

Try to catch a Northern Lights show over Lake Superior or just view the night sky on a clear night to see more stars than you’ve ever seen before. – Ray Baker

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Schneller

Northern Lights, Photo Courtesy of Kevin Schneller

Being able to catch the Northern Lights on top of Brockway Mountain right after watching the fireworks at Copper Harbor. – GR2 Photography

Wakefield is a small town (pop.~ 1850) where M28 meets US2. Wakefield is known for its friendly people and their hospitality is without question beyond extraordinary. Please visit Wakefield and see for yourself why you will be forever drawn back. – Joseph Yon

I love the beauty, the nature, the peacefulness I feel in the woods. It’s impossible to pick a favorite spot. I love the rocky beach at Whitefish Point. Next month I plan to see all the falls in the Munising area. – Shelley Lewis

Whitefish Point, Photo Courtesy of Karrie Altland

Whitefish Point, Photo Courtesy of Karrie Altland

Dog sledding at Nature’s Kennel! – Theresa Krol

The agate beaches, Curly Lewis Drive, the lighthouses, Grand Island’s Trout Bay, 12 Mile Beach, Salt Point Beach… Lots more to love! – Holly Kulhawick

Two-Hearted river. – Kelli Logan

Boating along Pictured Rocks on a hot sunny day! Stunning! – Dianne Tribfelner

The shores of Marquette. – Steph Larson Wentela

Lake in the Clouds where only one word describes it – spectacular! – Leslie Dittman Coon

Miners Falls, Photo Courtesy of Tammi Capron

Miners Falls, Photo Courtesy of Tammi Capron

The beautiful waterfalls of the U.P. (Miners Falls in Munising) – Jesse Barcega

I love to watch the boats come through the Soo Locks. – Andrea Selewski

My personal favorite is “the cove” at Presque Isle in Marquette. – Hills Anne

Anything missing? Let us know what you love to do in the Upper Peninsula by commenting below!