5 Misconceptions about Winter Travel to the U.P.

It’s no secret that with the beauty of Michigan in winter, some stereotypes come along with it. This certainly rings true in the Upper Peninsula, which some people think is nearly inhabitable during the cold weather months. But as U.P. residents and enthusiasts will tell you, there’s so much to enjoy during a Pure Michigan Snow Day in the U.P.

Read below as two U.P. guest bloggers share five misconceptions about traveling to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the wintertime.

1.       Winter travel limits the fun

Those who live in and oft-visit the U.P. never let a little snow get in the way of a good time! Enjoying an evening on the town while avoiding slippery roads is easy in a place like downtown Sault Ste. Marie, where dozens of taverns, restaurants, and shops are found within a short three-block area. Plowed sidewalks are pedestrian friendly and snowmobiles are allowed on Downtown streets for those who arrive via trail. Who needs a car?

tahquamenon falls

Photo Courtesy of Wolverine Photography

2.       Everything is closed in the winter

Many attractions remain open all year long in the Upper Peninsula but take on a delightful new appeal when covered in snow. Visit Tahquamenon Falls State Park this winter to see incredible ice displays sculpted by Mother Nature herself. Anglers see their lakes transformed for a new catch and hikers get a new perspective when exploring snow-covered forests by snowshoe. At the day’s end, bundle up with hot cocoa or an Irish coffee at one of the Eastern Upper Peninsula’s four casinos.

sault

Photo Courtesy of Michigan Nut Photography

3.       It’s too cold to do anything outside

Some people think that because the Upper Peninsula is so far north, it’s nearly impossible to do anything outside. Guess again! Between guided snowshoe hikes, dog sled races, antique snowmobile runs and restaurants ready to serve up a nice hot plate with a beer brewed locally, you’re sure to enjoy the outdoors.  Some residents say it’s just as busy in the winter as it is in the summer! One thing that folks in the Keweenaw Peninsula know is that Lake Superior actually moderates temperature enough to keep it cold, but comfortable, in the winter.

mackinac

Photo Courtesy of Tim Burke

4.       There’s nothing to see in the U.P., especially in the winter

Let’s kick this misconception to the curb right away – you get to cross the western hemispheres’ LARGEST suspension bridge when traveling to the U.P.! Ask any Michigander who has crossed the bridge, it is a rite of passage. Besides the obvious, there are the beautiful campuses of Lake Superior State University, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan University, and the breathtaking porcupine mountains.

5.       There’s nothing in the Upper Peninsula that you can’t find in the Lower Peninsula

Not true! Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is famous for the amount of snow it gets, sometimes even up to 200 inches a year! While the L.P. has countless Pure Michigan Snow Day activities, the U.P.’s top-rated snowmobiling trails, ski resorts and winter festivals make it a blast for any visitor.

What do you love most about the Upper Peninsula? Share with us below!

Hoath-print

 

Linda Hoath is the Executive Director of the Sault Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, a post she has held for 13 years. Linda is an outspoken advocate for the Eastern Upper Peninsula and also plays an active role with several state and regional organizations.

 

 

amanda_oppe-300x300Amanda Oppe is the Social Media & Marketing Manager for the Keweenaw convention and visitors bureau. Originally from Illinois, Amanda and her family were drawn to the Keweenaw and have been living and working in the Copper Country for almost 4 years. Since coming to the KCVB, Amanda has established our presence along with advertising on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Since the forward movement with technology Amanda has grown our audience by thousands. This past year Amanda completed a full upgrade to the KCVB website to make it mobile and user friendly, and designed and implemented a new mobile app that is an in-depth vacation guide making a visitor’s trip just a little easier. Amanda truly loves the Keweenaw and loves helping visitors enjoy the Keweenaw Peninsula and all it has to offer.

Celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service in Michigan

The National Park Service, which oversees more than 450 park sites throughout the United States, is turning 100! Discover a little history behind Michigan’s seven parks and how you can celebrate this incredible milestone without traveling far from home.

In 2016, a major milestone will be marked across the country as the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Indeed, the birthday party has already started across the more than 400 National Park sites in the U.S., seven of which are in Michigan. There are countless activities and programs available for the whole family all with the hope of inspiring the next generation of park stewards.

The NPS is widely celebrated by Michiganders and out-of-towners alike, with dazzling natural beauty such as the mineral-laden colors that adorn 200-foot tall cliffs at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore or miles of picturesque sandy beachfront at Sleeping Bear Dunes.

As the 2016 NPS Centennial draws closer, residents across the country are being encouraged to experience a National Park and then share their impressions by tagging #FindYourPark via social media.

So for those seeking a truly unique Michigan experience while basking in the celebration of the NPS Centennial, here are some ideas to jumpstart your journey:

Find Your Park

Day trip with your 4th-grader as part of Every Kid in a Park

In honor of the NPS Centennial, all 4th-graders now have access to their very own Every Kid in a Park passport which grants free admission to all federally owned natural lands such as national park sites, national forests, wildlife refuges and more from now until the end of 2016.

For 4th-grade students in southeast Michigan, the National Park Foundation is supporting two sets of Fourth Grade Discovery days to be held at Historic Fort Wayne in June 2016 and September 2016. The goal is to reach 4,000 of the Detroit Public School’s fourth-graders during the NPS Centennial.  Students visiting the fort during the Discovery Days program will take part in demonstrations and activities that enhance their grade level social studies and natural science curriculum, as well as have an opportunity to have fun in the park.

Get away from it all at Isle Royale

Crossing the icy, deep waters of Lake Superior from Copper Harbor and entering the unscathed wilderness of Isle Royal National Park – visitors truly feel that they have entered a different world.

The isolated, stunning vistas are truly a way for visitors to explore wilderness, slow down the pace of life and relax the soul. As an island park, there are many ways to enjoy Isle Royale from the water, land or air.

Visitors can enjoy these life experiences during the 2016 Centennial and beyond. Please note: The park is officially closed to visitors until April, 2016.

Discover Keweenaw’s copper story through a scavenger hunt

The Keweenaw National Historic Park is not only known for its radiant, natural beauty but also for its copper mining heritage which dates back 7,000 years ago. Discover the Keweenaw copper and 21 Heritage Sites throughout the region during 2016 by going on the Copper Country Scavenger Hunt.

What did miners put in their lunch pails to keep their pasties warm? Who rescued 24 people and a dog from the shipwreck L.C. Waldo in 1913? Children of all ages have a chance to win a prize by finding the answers to questions like these by completing the hunt. The booklet is free and available at each of the staffed Keweenaw Heritage Sites as well as the NPS’s Calumet Visitor Center.

Other Centennial program at Keweenaw will include a “History Smackdown” competition among local high school teams, a 1916 fashion show featuring park rangers, a monthly history speaker series focusing on the NPS Centennial and much more!

‘Find Your Road Trip’ within the MotorCities National Heritage Area

Southeast Michigan has the largest concentration of historical sites related to the evolution of the automotive industry in the entire world. Indeed, there are many twists and turns one can take while traveling from The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn to the Gilmore Car Museum in bucolic Hickory Corners, and coming in early 2016 the MotorCities National Heritage Area will be encouraging auto enthusiasts to “Find Your Road Trip,” with a one-of-a-kind tourism booklet exploring the vast automotive heritage of the region.

Travelers will be able to have their road trip booklet stamped with an exclusive 2016 NPS Centennial stamp at historical sites across the National Heritage Area and fellow National Park Service sites.

So blaze your own trail, chart your own journey and experience something great using our free publication! It will be available at National Heritage Area partner sites, Michigan Welcome Centers and more.

Photo Courtesy of Austen Smith

Photo Courtesy of Austen Smith

North Country Trail

Headquartered in Lowell, The North Country National Scenic Trail (North Country Trail) is a unit of the network of scenic, historic and recreation trails created by the National Trails System Act of 1968 and is administered by the National Park Service.

Traversing seven states along its 4,600 mile route, it is the longest national scenic trail in the United States. While the North Country Trail is managed primarily for hiking and backpacking, some portions of the trail may also permit other non-motorized uses. Of primary importance is protecting the trail experience—providing opportunities for recreation, education, inspiration, solitude, and enjoyment; and ensuring user safety and resource protection.

The wide variety of terrain, flora and fauna offers everything from a leisurely afternoon stroll to a multiday, rigorous long-distance hiking challenge. In every locale, opportunities abound for bird watching, botany, photography, and wildlife study, either alone or as an experience shared with others seeking the respite of the outdoors.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Loudenslager

Photo Courtesy of Chris Loudenslager

Take a cruise around Pictured Rocks 

At Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the park and partner Pictured Rocks Cruises have combined forces to offer a free cruise ticket to every 4th-grader in Michigan.

Following a successful test in 2015 with enthusiastic response, about 100,000 tickets will be distributed in Michigan schools in December. Kids can redeem their free ride by bringing their family/guardian/adults to the Munising City Docks Pictured Rocks Cruises booking office and choose their tour.

Tours include Spray Falls, the round trip tour to Chapel Rock or the popular sunset trip. Super thanks to Pictured Rocks Cruises for making it possible for every Michigan 4th grader to Find their (Great Lake) Park.

Photo Courtesy of Laura Rotegard

Photo Courtesy of Laura Rotegard

Discover Michigan’s role in the War of 1812 at River Raisin

Over a century before the founding of the National Park Service, the War of 1812 raged in southeast Michigan, Ohio and Canada. The River Raisin National Battlefield Park – located in Monroe, about 40 miles southwest of Detroit – preserves, commemorates, and interprets the January 1813 battles of the War of 1812 and their aftermath in Monroe and Wayne counties in southeast Michigan.

Artifacts and exhibits pertaining to the battles at the River Raisin are displayed in the visitor’s center museum. Be sure to watch a 14-minute fiber optic map presentation in which the conflict in the Old Northwest Territory is unfolded.

In the west wing, a collection of original military firearms and accoutrements, and an additional diorama, accompany the fiber optic map. In the east wing, handcrafted miniature dioramas depict scenes from the River Raisin, the battles of Lake Erie, and the battle of the Thames. In the main gallery, full-scale vignettes bring to life the American and British troops as they might have appeared at dawn on January 22, 1813, just before the second battle.

Step back in time at Sleeping Bear Dunes

At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, visitors will be able to step back in time and experience the year 1916, when the National Park Service was founded, as part of Glen Haven Days on May 28. Visit an historic Great Lakes village and United States Life Saving Station/Maritime Museum as part of the day-long program. Visitors can also stroll through the Port Oneida Fair happening Aug. 12 and 13, 2016 and experience life as it was in Port Oneida in 1916!

Other Centennial programming at Sleeping Bear will include the monthly Research Rendezvous Series of public discussions held throughout 2015 and 2016. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and highlight the value of national parks as our nation’s “living laboratories,” Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is hosting a monthly series of public talks by park researchers called “Research Rendezvous.” This program will provide an opportunity to learn about the diversity of scientific investigations occurring in or near the National Lakeshore.

Photo Courtesy of the National Parks Service

Photo Courtesy of the National Parks Service

For more information on these parks, visit their respective websites and social media channels. Which of Michigan’s National Parks is your favorite?

Isle Royale: Facebook

Keweenaw National Historic Park: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram 

MotorCities National Heritage Area: Facebook, TwitterInstagram

North County Trail: Facebook, Twitter

River Raisin National Battlefield Park: Facebook

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Facebook, Twitter

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

A Fall Color Tour in the Keweenaw Peninsula

When fall in Michigan arrives, there’s no better place to be to see the dynamic colors of a trillion trees!

Today Jesse Land, founder of Things to do in the U.P., a website dedicated to helping people discover the best of the Upper Peninsula, fills us in on his recommendations for taking a fall color tour around one of the U.P.’s most cherished areas – the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Stay tuned for additional fall color tour ideas from Jesse throughout the season!

When I recently polled my Things to in the U.P. Facebook fans about their favorite place for an Upper Peninsula fall color tour, most of them referenced someplace in the Keweenaw Peninsula. I have to agree with them.

There’s just something magical about the Keweenaw and the crisp air and colorful leaves of autumn seem to kick the magic up a notch.

What follows is my personal recommendation for an awesome Keweenaw fall color tour day trip. I’ll actually be doing this exact trip myself in a few weeks!

I recommend starting your day in the town of Houghton where you can catch a glimpse into the rich history of the Keweenaw’s mining culture via a tour of the Quincy Mine.

From there, head north on U.S. 41 to Calumet and try to avoid having lunch at the Michigan House Café, not because it isn’t awesome (it is) but because today I’m sending you to my “secret” beachfront dining spot right smack on the shore of Lake Superior.

Take in the historic downtown buildings of Calumet like the Calumet Theater. If you’re into art, stop into one of Calumet’s many art galleries, and be sure to crab a coffee or ice cream at the very cool converted train depot 5th & Elm before continuing north on U.S. 41.

About thirteen miles north of Calumet, follow M-26 into Eagle River. Visit Eagle River Falls as you come into town and then make your way to your beachfront lunch spot. I’m sending you to Fitzgerald’s, easily one of the best restaurants in the Upper Peninsula, and very likely all of Michigan.

The food and service at Fitzgerald’s are consistently excellent, and the views of Lake Superior from every table are awesome.

After lunch, stretch your legs with a walk on the sandy beach right in front of Fitzgerald’s, then hop in your car and head north again on M-26. You’re only going to go a few miles, though, because no trip to the Keweenaw is complete without a stop at The Jampot! And since it’s only a few feet away, stop at Jacob’s Falls for a photo opp.

Okay, here’s where we kick the “color tour” into overdrive. The stretch of M-26 north of The Jampot is curvy and wooded, thick with vibrant colors to the east and views of Lake Superior to the west.

And though M-26 continues on all the way to Copper Harbor, be sure not to miss the turn to Brockway Mountain drive. This little road winds up 720 feet to the top of Brockway Mountain, where on a clear day you can see for miles! The view from the top of “Brockway” is one of the best in the U.P.

Now, with Brockway Mountain under your belt, continue down Brockway Mountain drive into the quaint but oh so cool village of Copper Harbor to peruse the shops and see the sights. If you’re a history buff, check out Fort Wilkins Historic State Park while you’re there. I’d also recommend popping into the Keweenaw Adventure Company. You may not have time for an adventurous excursion on this day trip, but make a note of it for next time because you can’t beat this place for a guided kayaking or mountain biking trip!

From Copper Harbor, follow a freshly paved and fun to drive section of U.S. 41 south through the “tunnel of trees” back down to the Mt. Bohemia ski area, where for $8/person you’ll be able to ride the ski lift up the hill and take in yet another spectacular view of the surrounding area.

Congratulations! You’ve now seen enough of the Keweenaw to know you need to plan another trip! Stop at the Keweenaw Convention Center and Visitor’s Bureau in Calumet as you head south to pick up some maps and brochures for next time!

Jesse Land is the founder of Things to do in the U.P., a website dedicated to helping people discover the best of the Upper Peninsula. For regular Upper Peninsula travel tips, follow Things to do in the U.P. on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thingstodointheup.