Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: Must See to Understand

Flickr Photo Credit - Amy NealeThe Upper Peninsula is one of Michigan’s greatest treasures. Today’s guest blogger shares her love of the U.P., and why you have to see it to believe.

I was born and raised in Canton, a suburb of Detroit, but when I went off to college and decided to go to Northern Michigan University, which is about eight hours north from my home town, as well as in the Upper Peninsula, everyone was shocked. I would constantly get the question, “Why did you decide to go to school way up in the UP”? I would always respond, “Unless you’ve been there, you’ll never understand”.

Photo Credit - Ashley OlsonThat quote was often said among my Yooper friends, referring to the distinct culture and lifestyle of a Yooper, but to me, the quote meant more than that. Hiking Sugar Loaf and Hogsback, jumping off Black Rocks into the lake, spending all day on the beautiful beaches of Lake Superior, snowshoeing along Dead River, and barbequing on Presque Isle, are all some of the fondest memories of my life.

The air is so fresh, the land untouched, and there are so many untraveled paths to explore. There truly is no place like the UP and when you’re there, life seems slower, simpler. It is how life should feel. I know that no matter how long I am gone from it, I can cross that bridge and feel at home and at peace. I could go on and on about the wonders and beauty of the Upper Peninsula, but I will never do the land, or the people, justice. I highly suggest to everyone out there to venture over the bridge and experience the UP, because unless you’ve been there, you will never understand.

Ashley Olson of Grayling submitted this post to Pure Michigan Connect through our Guest Blogger submission form.

Eager for more stories about Michigan’s Upper Peninsula?

  • Bev

    I agree with you all the way… once a person crosses the bridge into the U.P. it is like you have entered a whole different world. The northern sections of the lower penninsula are close but… The people, the scenery, the pace of life.. it is all beautiful and slow and serene.. and just a wonderful place to visit, vacation, even live if you so were to ever choose to. Forests, waterfalls, sand dunes, historical spots, hiking trails, campgrounds, lighthouses, islands, boating, shopping (unique items, made in michigan items) casino’s, the bridge to the U.P. (Mackinac) the bridges to Canda in Sault St. Marie, the boat tours of the Soo Locks, The Pictured Rocks lakeshore … you never run out of fun things to see and do.. no matter the season. In the winter, snowmobiling and snowshoeing are popular.. even sled dog races.. bonfires.. hot chocolate along a trail.. Enjoy Michigan.. there is nothing like it!

  • Beverly DeMers

    I married a Yooper who took me there on our honeymoon, and it was love at first sight. As soon as we cross the bridge I feel more alive than I ever do down below. It’s the most beautiful place on Earth to me, and in 2 yrs we plan to return and live there. I can hardly wait!! The people, the slower pace of life, the endless things to see and do….. it’s really living.

  • Chris Wilden

    It has been years since I have had the pleasure of watching the Tahquamenon Falls and the bubbling water at the base of the falls, or watch the meteor showers in the early morning hours on the shore of Lake Superior. The cry of the loons call to me from memory each time I lie awake in my tent at night. I live in southeastern Ohio, which is beautiful, but nothing could compare with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I call it the Promised Land and get snickers from those who have yet to experience the beauty of the land. I will be visiting the U.P. in several weeks and am so very excited. The falls, Whitefish Point, Seney Wildlife Refuge, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and everything in between await my camera’s lens. It has been too long.

  • gw

    I never lost that feeling – seeing the bridge, crossing into the UP is still exciting, seeing the sites up north – it’s part of the best memories of my life.

  • richard j. rank

    i grew up in the copper country and would not change a thing.swimming in the crystal clear waters of the lake superior andf portage regions,fishing,hunting, and berry picking were just afew of the many activities i enjoyed.and most importantly are the life long friends i have from this rich and diverse region.if ever you have the oppurtunity please visit and soak in the local culture.I LOVE THE U.P. EH! also,eh in the u.p. is an exclamation,not a question

  • TK

    I just took my two girls (8 and 10) last weekend. What an experience. I have been to Maui many times and I have to say the beauty of the U.P. is very close. The waterfalls reminded of Hawaii. So many things remind me how things used to be. So far my trip to the U.P. has been one of the highlights of the summer. It amazes me how many people I talk to have never been to the U.P. I totally agree that until you go there you won’t get it!

  • http://www.mcgillsnatureinmotion.com Teresa McGill

    We spend every free moment ‘Up North’. People think we live in the North(Central Lake, MI northwest corner) but I tell them that the True North is in the wonderful Upper Peninsula. My stress reliever and anit depressant drug is driving through Seney National Wildlife Refuge!! The peace and solitude, it is truly a refuge for this soul. Just stopping and sitting and listening and watching the special creatures that call this place home makes it all worth it. My husband and I film and photograh all the amazing wildlife there. We are definitely planning on calling the U.P. home in the near future. Thank you for you for sharing the mutual love with others.

  • Melanie Brand

    I also went to NMU and was from the lower peninsula and this blog says what I think on a daily basis! You could not of said it any better!

  • http://www.thelandmarkinn.com Christine Pesola

    I enjoyed reading some of your thoughts aobut the UP. I came up here to go to NMU in 1971 and never left. I feel very blessed to call Marquette home. I still get that feeling after all these years when I cross the bridge to get home after a trip to lower Michigan to visit family. Come on up anytiime, we love to meet new people.

  • Jerry Isaacs DeaKyne

    I watched the Bridge Go Up and rode the ferries across Lake Michigan several times. That was many years ago. Then, in the 50′s and 60′s we traveled to the UP every summer for a beautiful vacation on Big Bay De Noq and stayed on the beach at Nahma, MI. Was a wonderful period of my life.

  • Leslie Sill

    The UP is one of the most beautiful, untouched, unknown area in Michigan. More people to to travel and see what I grew up with. I now live downstate, but appreciate every experience I had.

  • Laurie Karrels

    My first trip to the U.P. from Wisconsin was with my husband to meet his biological Mom, who gave him up for adoption at birth in the 60′s. Her father, my husband’s grandfather, was still alive and in his 90′s at the time. The reunion was wonderful, and changed me forever. I fell in love with the U.P., and continue to want to go back year after year.

    We will return this August, after not visiting for 5 years, and I can’t wait! Even though Grandpa is now gone, and my “other” mom-in law no longer lives there, we enjoy the peace, and quiet, and beaches, and dunes, and waterfalls, etc, etc, etc. Trying the eastern side this time–have only experienced the western side before this. Can’t wait……

  • Michael Hanners

    I am from southwestern Michigan, but have lived in Florida for nigh unto 30 years; I love Michigan summers, but have not been to the UP since high school (1971 or so); my curiosity is peeked, I have to take a trip to the UP to experience it now after so many years. Just added a road trip to UP to my August agenda.

  • vauda

    I live in the U.P i jump off the cliffs at black rocks all the time this summer.

  • Bill Bjork

    I was born in Ishpeming in 1943 and my childhood was like a Huckleberry Finn story.  Freedom to roam the area and play with my brother and friends and go out to camp with dad and brothers.  It was wonderful!!!

    I have since written a book about the “Camps U.P. North – A History In The Woods”.  It’s a brief history of the hunting camps of Northern Marquette County.  Many were constructed between 1880 and 1910, a testament to our immigrant fathers who came to Michigan to work the iron mines and find a better way of life.  With them cam their love of nature and the desire to have a place of their own in the woods.

    Please check out my book and website at:   http://www.birchtree-ent.com
    Thanks, William P. Bjork

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