Six Spectacular Lake Superior Cruises

Michigan’s largest lake is often an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of  Things to do in the U.P. describes six unique ways to experience Lake Superior by boat.

Photo courtesy of Jonathon Smith

Photo courtesy of Jonathon Smith

Lake Superior is a magical body of water. There’s just something magnetic about the largest of our great lakes that draws people to it. And those who’ve visited Superior’s waters can (and often do) attest that it’s more than a lake. Somehow, no matter where you’re from, Lake Superior feels like home.

Of course, you can hike the hills that flank the lake, swim her beaches or ride bikes along her shore, but there’s nothing quite like actually getting out on the water. This month, filmmaker Aaron Peterson released a video, produced for The Marquette County Visitor’s Bureau, that beautifully showcases the lake.

Sailing on the Coaster II (featured in the above video) is a spectacular way to see Lake Superior, but there are other cruises available, too. Below I’ll list a few of the most popular ways to see “the big lake” by boat.

Marquette

Superior Odyssey
(906) 361-3668

As you can see in this video, Superior Odyssey’s historic Coaster II is definitely one of the most unique ways to see Lake Superior, and a great way to see a side of Marquette many never do (ie. from the water). From a two hour sightseeing trip to full day and even overnight trips, you’re sure to find something in their schedule that fits your schedule!

Marquette Harbor Cruise
(906) 225-9000

Glide along Marquette’s beaches, the Blackrocks rock formation and the cliff’s of Presque Isle Park on the Isle Royale Queen III. Snacks and beverages are available, and the sights are unbeatable. And just like a cruise with Superior Odyssey, you’ll have the opportunity to see the beautiful, but often missed view of Marquette from the water.

Munising

Pictured Rocks Cruises
(906) 387-2379

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Vedua

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Vedua

Explore the stories in stone (as their website says) with a Pictured Rocks cruise. For most folks, the Pictured Rocks cruise is the best way for them to see these regionally famous rock formations. Hop on one of their cruise ships and in just a few hours you’ll see rock formations, beaches and waterfalls that would take days to explore on foot. And even if you have the time to hike, many sections of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are best viewed from the water.

Riptide Ride
(906) 387-8888

Riptide Ride is the Munising area’s adventure cruise. Promising “360 degree spins and amazing speed” all while touring Pictured Rocks, this boat tour is perfect for those looking to spice things up a little. But bring your camera, there are plenty of pauses for sightseeing opportunities, too!

Houghton

The Ranger III
(800) 949-2026

If you ever plan to visit Isle Royale, the two ferry’s that travel from the Upper Peninsula to Lake Superior’s largest island are also a terrific way to see the expansive waters of Superior. Operating out of Houghton, the Ranger III is the largest piece of moving equipment owned by the National Park Service. It’s 165 feet long, 34 feet wide and can carry 128 passengers. (It can also carry private boats up to 20 feet long!) The “leisurely ride” to Rock Harbor takes about six hours.

Copper Harbor

The Isle Royale Queen IV
(800) 949-2026

The other Isle Royale ferry is the Isle Royale Queen IV. Departing from Copper Harbor, the Isle Roayle Queen IV will get you to Rock Harbor in about 3 hours and fifteen minutes. And while you’re there, make a night of it by staying at the Rock Harbor Lodge.

As you can see, you’ve got options when it comes to seeing Lake Superior up close and personal. Have you taken any of the boat cruises mentioned here?

Written by Jesse Land, publisher of Things to do in the U.P. on behalf of the Marquette County Visitor’s Bureau. Find more information about the Marquette area at TravelMarquetteMichigan.com.

From Our Community: Stunning Scenery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

This week we asked our Pure Michigan Facebook community to share their favorite Upper Peninsula photos. From sunny summer landscapes to snow-capped forests and charming hidden gems, the Upper Peninsula boasts breathtaking scenery all year round. To showcase the U.P’s spectacular four-season beauty (and to give you a preview of warmer days to come), here’s a roundup of some stunning Upper Peninsula scenery from our fans.

Where is your favorite place to visit in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? 

Exploring the Eben Ice Caves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things To Do in the U.P. tells us how to have a fantastic Pure Michigan winter adventure at the Eben Ice Caves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

Photo courtesy of Habibi Photography

The Eben Ice caves in Marquette County are one of Michigan’s prime winter attractions. Each winter, once the ice caves start to freeze up (usually sometime in December), visitor’s flock to the tiny town of Eben Junction to see the ice caves and, while they’re out there, support local businesses like the Eben Ice Caves concession stand, the Rock River Cafe and the New Moon Tavern.

Eben Ice Caves – The Basics

The “Rock River Canyon Ice Caves” better known as the Eben Ice Caves, form when melting snow runs over the edge of a small cliff and freezes, forming “ice caves” Much like the large ice formations along Munising’s Grand Island and parts of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, if you were to visit here in the summer you would see little to no water running over the edge.

It’s the perfect combination of a slow snow melt and frigid temperatures that causes these “caves” of ice to form.

The Hike to the Caves

Photo courtesy of Things to Do in the U.P.

This isn’t an attraction where you can pull up in your car, walk a few feet and be done. It’s not a long hike, but yes, you will have to get out and stretch your legs. And for the pet owners out there, yes, the area is pet friendly. Each time I’ve visited the ice caves I’ve seen more than a few dogs on the trail.

The hike from the parking area to the ice caves is about .75 miles. The first .25 mile stretch is a very flat walk through a farmer’s field. And just a note on that, the farmer allows people like you and me to pass through the field at no charge and if the kind family that owns the land ever stopped allowing this, the hike to the ice caves would be much longer. In addition to that, the land owners now offer portable bathrooms in the parking area at no charge. So, show your thanks by purchasing a hot beverage or a snack at their concession stand if you’re able!

A Word on Snowshoes and Ice Cleats

Photo courtesy of Things to Do in the U.P.

After a foot of snow got dumped on the area just two days before my recent visit, I asked a friend who lives in nearby Chatam if I should bring snowshoes. “It’s never a bad idea to bring the shoes,” he said, “but I”m guessing it’ll be packed down by then.”

He was right. Snowshoes would have only made the hike more difficult. So if you have them, bring them in case you happen to visit right after a big snowstorm. Otherwise, wear ice cleats.

Some form of ice cleats (I like Yaktrax but any of them should help!) can go a long way toward enhancing your Eben Ice Caves experience. Trust me. On any given day, about half the people visiting the caves are wearing cleats, and the other half wish they had them. The main reason is that, with ice cleats, you’re able to walk around inside the ice caves on relatively sure footing. And without them, it’s a little treacherous. The ice inside the caves is very smooth so traditional rubber boots tend to slide around quite a bit.

But another reason to wear cleats is that the trail out to the caves has some steep ups and downs. You’ll see many spots where people slide down hills on their bottoms, and then struggle to get up the other side. In short, if you’re wearing cleats (like myself and my cohorts were on our last outing) you’ll be able to walk right up and down those slippery spots. On my last visit, a college aged girl looked a little stunned as I walked right by her on a slippery hill and said “Oh, so that’s what it’s like when you have traction.”

Okay, enough about the ice cleats. You get the point!

Getting There

Photo courtesy of Habibi Photography

The Eben Ice Caves used to be a little hard to find, but no longer. Just set your GPS for Eben Junction, MI. (Or use Google Maps to find it.) From M-94 in Eben Junction, turn north onto Eben Road and drive about 1.5 miles to Frey Road. Turn right on Frey Road and drive to the end (if you can) or if it’s a busy day just find a spot to park along the road. It’s not unusual to see fifty or more cars parked here on a nice weekend day. Also, Eben Road and Frey Road have yellow signs on them that say “Ice Caves”, so keep an eye out for those.

All in all, though it’s a bit of a drive out to the ice caves, I’d highly recommend checking them out! As far as Michigan ice caves go, these are the most accessible I know of.

Have you been to the Eben Ice Caves? What did you think?

 

Written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P. on behalf of Travel Marquette Michigan.