Sweet Summer Activities in Pure Michigan

Jesse Land, a native Yooper, runs the U.P. travel site “Things to do in the U.P.” (www.thingstodointheup.com). Today on our blog, he shares his favorite summer activities to enjoy in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Last summer, as part of my “things to do in the Upper Peninsula” project, I spent just about every other weekend traveling the U.P. Following are a few of my favorite activities from last summer. In fact, I enjoyed them all so much I’ll be doing each of them again this year!

Whitewater Rafting on Piers Gorge

Near Iron Mountain lies the famed stretch of the Menominee River known as Piers Gorge. Thousands of gallons of water rush through this constricted section river each second, creating class four (out of five) foaming whitewater rapids.

Rafting these rapids is a real adventure, and each of my three trips through Piers Gorge last summer was with Northwoods Adventures, based in Vulcan, MI, just a few miles from the gorge. Their guides were very competent and super fun, and they provided us with some awesome pictures! And for those of you who’d prefer to stay on land, a wonderful hiking trail runs along all of Piers Gorge and offers terrific views of the rapids.

Hike Bare Bluff

Way up in the Keweenaw Peninsula is a rock formation called Bare Bluff, and looping around it is a three mile hiking trail that starts in lush, almost rainforest-like undergrowth, and then climbs up several hundred feet to the top of the rocky bluff. The views from the top of the bluff are stunning and on a clear day you can see all the way to the tip of the Keweenaw. This is definitely one of the most beautiful spots I’ve visited in the Upper Peninsula so far and I can’t wait to get back.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Whitefish Point

Everyone has heard of Tahquamenon Falls, but just north of there, a few miles past Paradise, MI you’ll find the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Whitefish Point. I’d have to say this little stop was probably the most unexpectedly pleasant surprise of last summer. After visiting Lower Tahquamenon Falls, my wife and I decided to check out the shipwreck museum, and I’m glad we did.

The museum has shipwreck artifacts dating back hundreds of years, and even has a special room where they show a short film about the infamous wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  For a small fee you’re allowed to climb to the top of the lighthouse tower, which I did (and I’d say it’s worth it for the awesome view).

After touring the museum, my wife and I walked along the beach at Whitefish Point to relax for a bit and hunt for agates. It’s easy to see Canada from the point, which was pretty cool, and the area is also a big birding hotspot, with thousands of migratory birds stopping by each season. Oh, and when you’re up in this area, don’t forget to stop at Brown Fisheries Fish House in Paradise for some of the best fish you’ve ever had!

This summer we have trips planned to the “old standbys,” the Porcupine Mountains, Pictured Rocks and Mackinac Island, but Piers Gorge, Bare Bluff and Whitefish Point are once again on our list of things to do. If you love the Upper Peninsula, I’d highly recommend adding the above items to your summer to do list!

A native Yooper, Jesse Land lives in Iron Mountain and enjoys hiking, biking, boating, and camping with his family. He runs the U.P. travel site “Things to do in the U.P.” (www.thingstodointheup.com).

Pure Michigan’s Wonderful Winter Activities

Jesse Land, a native Yooper, runs the U.P. travel site “Things to do in the U.P.” (www.thingstodointheup.com). Today on our blog, he shares his favorite winter activities to enjoy in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Are you looking for things to do in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the winter? Well, look no further! Following are a few excellent winter activities that range from a mildly adventurous spectator sport to something even the most daring outdoorspeople will enjoy!

Experience the Pine Mountain Ski Jumps

The Pine Mountain Ski Jumps are truly an event to behold, and something I believe everyone should take in at least once in their lifetime. Each February, thousands of spectators cluster around the base of Iron Mountain’s Giant Pine Mountain ski jump to watch some of the best jumpers in the world compete in this Continental Cup tournament.

Charcoal grills and bonfires abound in what could be Michigan’s largest tail gating event, as the jumper’s soar several hundred feet through the air with each try. And with the newly completed Pine Mountain stairs, watching the jumpers whoosh by at over sixty miles an hour will be easier than ever.

The hillside stairs are open to the public during the event so it’s quite easy to get closer to the action that you may have thought possible. All in all, you’ll likely leave the event muttering something along the lines of “who knew we had something like this right here in Michigan?”

Ski or Snowshoe at Fumee Lake Natural Area

Michigan is full of wonderful opportunities for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, with many of them not far from our respective backyards. One such place is the Fumee Lake Natural Area.

Fumee Lake offers a variety of trails, but the most popular are the “Little Fumee Lake Loop” and the “Big Fumee Lake Loop.” As their names imply, both trails circle one of the area’s two lakes, with the little loop measuring 1.35 miles and the big loop coming in at about 5.2 miles.

Because the 1,808 acre natural area only allows silent sports, you can find peace and quiet there all winter long.  In fact, it’s not uncommon to spend a few hours on the Fumee Lake trail system and not see another soul.

Go Ice Climbing at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Did you know that some of the best ice climbing in the world is right here in the Upper Peninsula? Yes, that’s right, I said ice climbing! Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore may be a thriving destination for tourists in the summer months, with families packing the lakeside campgrounds and sunset boat cruises, but in the winter the area is certainly no less beautiful.

Giant walls of ice form along many of the area’s rock faces (as well as on Grand Island), and the much photographed waterfalls of Pictured Rocks freeze over, becoming some of the most excellent and easily accessible ice climbs in the Midwest.

And fortunately, the barriers to entry for this crazy cool sport may not be as difficult as you’d think! Just call Down Wind Sports’ Marquette location at (906) 226-7112 and book one of their “Ice Climbing 101” trips. The cost is $99 per person and includes instruction and gear rental.

Ski Big Powderhorn Mountain

Our friends at MISkiReport.com do an excellent job of describing each of Michigan’s wonderful ski locations, so I’m going to borrow their description of Big Powderhorn Mountain…

“Located in the western Upper Penninsula of Michigan, Big Powderhorn Mountain is ranked as one of the Top 5 Resorts in the Midwest.  Combine an average of 17 plus feet of natural snowfall, a good mix of well maintained terrain and you have an exceptional winter getaway.

Big Powderhorn offers a variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders alike, with an excellent mix of trails for the novice to advanced.  With its Bavarian style village, Big Powderhorn boasts such features and amenities that are only found at larger western resorts.  Ticket and rental prices vary depending on the time of year.  However, check with the resort before planning your trip as promotions and great deals are offered throughout the year.”

In summary, as you can see, Michigan is host to a myriad of awesome winter activities. And these are just the tip of the iceberg! To learn more things to do in the Upper Peninsula, “like” my “Things to do in the U.P.” Facebook Page and plug into the action!

A native Yooper, Jesse Land lives in Iron Mountain and enjoys hiking, biking, boating, and camping with his family. He runs the U.P. travel site “Things to do in the U.P.” (www.thingstodointheup.com).