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 State Park in the winter

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.

View from the top of the Mackinac Bridge.

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.

Six Ways to Beat the Winter Blues in St. Ignace

When you think of winter, do you think about golf or a bike race? In the town of St. Ignace, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a little snow never stops the fun. In fact, Yoopers know there’s only one thing to do with the annual 60 plus inches of snow and that’s enjoy it. Guest blogger Mindy Rutger shares six ways to beat the winter blues in St. Ignace.

1.  Take a Swing at Ice Golf

Photo Courtesy of Dave Kunze

Photo Courtesy of Dave Kunze

The U.P. Ice Golf Scramble and Glow Ball Challenge (March 4 – 5) features a rather unconventional version of hitting the links. Carts are replaced with sleds and colored balls look like a Technicolor rainbow on frozen Lake Huron, which serves as the course. It’s a two-person, best-ball scramble with no handicaps, no pros, just lots of laughs and bragging rights to those who golf on 12-plus inches of ice. Friday night’s Glow Ball Challenge involves glow-in-the-dark balls, live music and beer tasting.

2. Hold Tight and Take Flight

You’ll feel like you’re flying when you sail down the hills of Silver Mountain Ski Area and Tubing Hill, grasping your inflated tube with a good case of the giggles. Thanks to tubing runs and snowboard hills, there are plenty of ways to catch some air in St. Ignace and a tow rope is never too far away to return you to your status as king or queen of the hill.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Kunze

Photo Courtesy of Dave Kunze

St. Ignace has elevated the sport of pond hockey to a whole new level, hosting the more than 200 teams who will compete in four-on-four action in a variety of age divisions from Feb 11-14.  More than 16 acres of ice will be cleared by Zamboni and divided into 30 rinks for the tournament The event has become a UP jamboree with food, a beverage tent, outdoor ice bowling, a snow cab and live entertainment.

4. Serene, Snowy and Silent.

For those who prefer the more serene nature of silent sports, there are a variety of scenic cross-country ski trails throughout the region and plenty of snowy woods to explore via snowshoes. Quietly make your way through the woods of Hiawatha National Forest for a chance to glimpse area wildlife and the sparkling, crystal trees of an Upper Peninsula winter.

Photo Courtesy of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

Photo Courtesy of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

 

When snow blankets the area, snowmobiles take to the region’s trails that provide access to the entire Upper Peninsula. More than 100 groomed miles of trails can be found in the St. Ignace area, woven beautifully through frosty forests. Get a glimpse of wildlife or simply make tracks for the quaint towns that gives the U.P. a distinctive personality.

6. Bicycle Ride Anyone?

There’s a new twist on playing in the snow when St. Ignace hosts its first Fat Tire Bike Race on Feb. 26. With a 16-mile and 32-mile course to choose from, racers will trek along the Lake Huron shoreline on bikes equipped for snow and ice conditions. A special beer tasting event will be held the evening before the race and the soup luncheon following the event is sure to warm everyone. The after-race party will conclude with an awards ceremony for competitors.

Find out what Yoopers know about winter fun and choose St. Ignace as your next winter vacation destination.

Mindy Rutgers is an Upper Peninsula native and the executive director of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. She has worked in Michigan’s tourism and hospitality industry since 1996. Find out more about Mindy and the visitors bureau at StIgnace.com or at facebook.com/stignaceVB.

States Parks to Visit This Season to see Breathtaking Fall Foliage

Autumn colors are now in their peak and provide awe-inspiring views all around the Great Lakes state. Whether you’re planning a fall color drive or want to explore the breathtaking views on foot, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of the season. We put together a list of a few state parks to enjoy the breathtaking views.

Hartwick Pines State Park
Hartwick Pines is one of the largest state parks in Michigan’s lower peninsula. You can climb the rolling hills to overlook the AuSable River and explore the forest of Old Growth Pines. Also, make sure to make a pit stop at the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum, which is about a 1/4 mile walk from the visitor center. The unique history is worth the extra steps!

Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Tahquamenon Falls State Park stretches over 13 miles and offers amazing sights all year long, but is especially magnificent in the fall. Most famous are the Upper Tahquamenon Falls, one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. The Upper Falls have a drop of nearly 50 feet and is more than 200 feet across. Four miles downstream are the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island.  There are more than 40 miles of hiking trails, 13 inland lakes, 24 miles of the Tahquamenon River and approximately 20,000 acres of natural area, which provides plenty of space to explore.

Tahquamenon Falls - Photo courtesy of @visitthesault

Tahquamenon Falls – Photo courtesy of Instagrammer @visitthesault

Silver Lake Sand Dunes State Park 
Embark almost 3,000-acres along the Lake Michigan shoreline. This area includes both dune country and acres of mature forest. One of the park’s biggest draws is the 450-acre off-road vehicle area, so hop on and start exploring the orange, yellow and red stunning leaves.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
This Upper Peninsula gem provides towering timbers, secluded lakes and miles of wild rivers and streams covering 60,000 acres. Explore 90 miles of foot trails and camp on the shore of Lake Superior to enjoy sunsets from your site. The North Country Trail includes 23 miles within the state park and rugged trails to conquer on a mountain bike. Take in the scenic vistas, waterfalls and old growth forest. It is designated as an official Michigan Wildlife Viewing Area for its various wildlife and can’t miss views.

Porcupine Mountains - Photo courtesy of @ryandjohnson

Porcupine Mountains – Photo courtesy of Instagrammer @ryandjohnson

Seven Lakes State Park
Located in Southeast Michigan, Seven Lakes State Park offers an endless variety of topography and ecosystems form the area called Seven Lakes. Its land has a combination of farmland, rolling hills and forests. About 230 acres of water with several miles of shoreline await the park user.

Isle Royale National Park 
Isle Royale is truly unique as it can only be accessed by boat or float plane. The combination of its protected isolation, wilderness value and natural beauty provides an ideal habitat for an assortment of wildlife. You can explore a rugged, isolated island, far from the sights and sounds of civilization. Surrounded by Lake Superior, Isle Royale offers unparalleled solitude and adventures for backpackers, hikers, boaters, kayakers, canoeists and scuba divers. Here, amid stunning scenic beauty, you’ll find opportunities for reflection and discovery, and make memories that last a lifetime.

Isle Royale - Photo courtesy of @adventureguyphoto

Isle Royale – Photo courtesy of Instagrammer @adventureguyphoto

Which of these state parks have you visited?