Surrounded on three sides by the Great Lakes, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is considered by many to be one of the greatest hidden gems in the Midwest. With everything from untouched forests to all but one of Michigan’s waterfalls, this is a region that is beautifully abundant in natural beauty.
All but one of Michigan’s waterfalls, of which there are over 300, can be found in the Upper Peninsula, and range from small five foot falls to roaring 48 foot vertical drops. Hiking is required to access just about every waterfall, but there are several trails to take that are not too challenging, meaning that you will still be able to check out a few falls no matter your ability level. While the waterfalls are at their very best during the spring, the winter months are when adrenaline-seekers try their hand at ice climbing, with the Munising and Miners Falls in particular having great columns of ice to climb.
Isle Royale National Park
While there are many national sites scattered throughout the state, Michigan only has one official national park, and this is the Isle Royale, a rugged island chain located in Lake Superior. Although this may be one of the least visited national parks in the country, this is exactly what makes it so appealing, as it offers a sense of solitude that cannot be found in many other places. Whether you hike or bike the 165 miles of trails, head into the lake with a canoe or sea kayak, or spend some time scuba diving to check out the underwater life, there is so much natural beauty to be found at Isle Royale.
State Parks and Forests
Michigan is home to more State Forest land than anywhere else in the eastern United States, and most of this can be found in the state’s Upper Peninsula. The Little Presque Isle National Forest is quite isolated, and has some spectacular areas of shoreline, while the Escanaba River State Forest has a large number of hiking trails, as well as a river that boasts huge trout. For those who want to explore the more mountainous regions of the Upper Peninsula, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is the best place to go, as the hiking trails here will take you through some of the most spectacular parts of the mountain’s wilderness. Of course, the Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, found in the historic mining area of Copper Harbor, cannot be forgotten, because not only is this one of the prime camping destinations in the region, but it is also where you will be able to enjoy truly unforgettable sunrise and sunset views.
Although Michigan’s Upper Peninsula counts for around 28% of Michigan’s land mass, it is extremely secluded from the rest of the state, and is often not included in published maps, meaning that, even today, it remains a relative secret. However, for anyone that loves the outdoors, this is an incredible destination to visit no matter the time of year, as each season highlights the different natural features that the region has to offer.