5 Things That Can Only Be Found in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Chantelle is an avid hiker and bicycler, exploring forests, hiking paths and bike trails throughout Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula (Yooperland), it wan't until I was an adult that I truly appreciated the beauty and splendor of the natural world that surrounded me. Morel hunting, blueberry and thimbleberry picking, swimming in icy clear blue waters, and snowshoeing in virgin forests without a soul around were simply part of an everyday existence. They say you can't go home again but they are wrong. Join me on my journey back.

1. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

With 42 miles of pristine shoreline Pictures Rocks National Lakeshore is a great place to start your journey. Guided boat tours are available out of Munising, but do like the natives do and rent a pontoon boat. Pack a picnic lunch, pick a direction, and go.

With 15 miles miles of weathered sandstone cliffs and 12 miles of beach solitude, you will want to devote a day to your journey. Drop anchor and sun on the beach, explore cove formations along the shoreline or hike the more than 90 miles of natural trails.

With so may choices it can be hard to know where to start. If you want to hike try Miners Falls Trail, an easy hike that ends in a cascading waterfall, or Sand Point Marsh Trail, dotted with interpretive exhibits, old beach ridges and an active beaver colony.

The one thing you won't see here? People. No waiting in an endless line for a burger and coke or to use the ladies room, no loud "boombox" music to assault your ears, no loud drunken young adults disturbing the sense of serenity. Just you and nature in all of God's glory.

2. Tahquamenon Falls

I first visited the falls when I was about 10 and I have never forgotten it. It was the fall and the trees looked like flames burning crimson and gold. The warm autumn sun shone down through the trees, its dappled light striking our faces. Fallen leaves crunched beneath our shoes. The forest smelled of pine tar, old dropped needles and earth. The rushing of the waterfall could be heard from the walking path almost half a mile away.

200 feet across, the waters of the Tahquamenon River pass over the falls at a rate of 50,000 feet per second. The water is rust-colored, not from dirt, but from the Cedar, Spruce and Hemlock trees in the swamp drained by the river. An observation platform rests at the crest of the Upper Falls and a 4 mile hiking path follows the river down to the Lower Falls. A series of 5 falls, the Lower Falls can be viewed from the riverbank or from an island in the middle of the river.

The falls are part of Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Originally an old logging camp, the current visitor center is an exact replica of the camp from long ago. A restaurant, gift shop and rental rowboats are available at the visitor center. There are plenty of picnic tables and handicap accessible restrooms near the visitor center.

25 miles of hiking trails meander through the park. Birders should be on the lookout for bald eagles, Sandhill Cranes, Spruce and Sharptail Grouse, as well as other waterfowl and songbirds. it is not unusual to spot moose. If you're lucky you might even see a black bear.

Tahquamenon Falls is located in Paradise, Michigan. Appropriate, don't you think?

3. Mackinac Bridge

Opened to traffic on November 1, 1957 at a cost of $99,800,000, Mackinac Bridge is the 5th longest suspension bridge in the world. Connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, there have been over 150,000,000 vehicle crossings since its opening.

All suspension bridges are designed to sway in response to changes in wind speed, temperature and weight. The Mackinac Bridge can slowly sway up to 35 feet at the middle pier and then slowly return as winds die. I have never personally felt the bridge sway, but I can say, when you're crossing during the middle of a blinding snowstorm, being swept over the side does cross your mind. I always drive the lane closest to the middle!

I think the nicest way to experience the bridge is to do the annual bridge walk. Held each Labor Day since 1959 and led by the Governor, between 40,000 and 60,000 people participate each year. It takes about two hours to cross the bridge and a shuttle returns you to your car. This is the only time during the year pedestrians are allowed on the bridge. The weather is usually sunny and it's a fun way to get some exercise. If you're visiting the UP at this time of year, it's a definite must do.

4. Kitchitikippi Springs

Called "Mirror of Heaven" by the early Chippewa Indians, Kitchitikippi Springs is an experience I'm not sure you can find anywhere else on earth. A pond 200 feet across and 40 feet deep, it is fed by 10,000 gallons per minute of water the seeps through fissures in the limestone bottom.

What makes this place so special? The water. It is emerald green and literally as clear as drinking water. Visitors board a glass-bottomed raft that crosses the pond though "people power". Visitors or the park ranger pull on a steel cable that is strung across the pond and you pull yourself across to the other side. Look straight down through the viewing windows and you will see straight to the the bottom that is inhabited by lake, brown and brook trout as well as yellow perch. Petrified tree trunks and branches lay on the bottom of the spring as they've done for who knows how many years.

Kitchitikippi Springs is part of Palms Book State Park just outside of Manistique, Michigan. Visit the springs and go "snorkeling" without getting wet!

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Did You Know?

Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, is also the largest freshwater lake in the world when measured by surface area. Not only that, it contains about 10% of the fresh water in the world. That’s right, THE WORLD.

5. Isle Royale

571,790 acres of untouched wilderness, Isle Royale is an island located in Lake Superior about 56 miles from the mainland. Accessible only by ferry or seaplane from May to September, Isle Royale is for the true outdoor enthusiast who appreciates its rugged, isolated beauty.

With no roads and no wheeled vehicles, visitors explore the island by walking its 170 miles of hiking trails or the waters surrounding the island by kayak or canoe. For those not interested in sleeping under the stars or in a yurt, Rock Harbor Lodge provides rooms that sleep four and has a gift shop, store, and a restaurant. Sightseeing excursions as well as fishing charters can be arranged through the lodge.

This is not a place for the faint of heart. Be forwarned, black flies and mosquitos will swarm deep woods visitors. Moose can infrequently be seen but the wolves shy away from humans. (Scientists believe the moose swam to the island in the early 1900's and the wolves walked across the frozen lake sometime between 1945 and 1950.)

Isle Royale is a singular experience that is not for everyone, but maybe you want to add it to your bucket list all the same.

Did You Know?

The backbone of Isle Royale, Greenstone Ridge, is thought to be part of the largest lava flow on earth.



Foods Not to Be Missed

  • Thimbleberries grow wild all over the UP. Larger, tarter and with smaller seeds than raspberries they are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Made into a jam they are divine.
  • Pasties, brought over by Cornish miners, are meat pies encased in a flaky crust. Traditionally eaten with ketchup and pickles.
  • Cudighi, a type of sausage brought over by italian immigrants, is eaten with mushrooms, pizza sauce and cheese (think pizza sandwich) and they are delicious.
  • Trenary toast, available only from the Trenary Bakery in Trenary, Michigan, is similar to biscotti but larger. The most popular flavor, cinnamon and sugar, is great dipped in coffee or hot chocolate.

Ready to pack your bags?

While English is, of course, spoken everywhere, there are a few terms which you may want to know before you go.

Yooper Dictionary








make wood

chop logs

go town

go to the store

party store

liquor store


32 ounce bottle of beer







ya eh?



resident of lower michigan



If you're looking for untouched forests and stunning natural beauty, then the Upper Peninsula is the place for you.

Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Bonus 6. Eben Ice Caves

© 2015 Chantelle Porter


Marv DeMilio on September 01, 2019:

Words you forgot: make snow, pank snow, Holy Wa, Ya, you betcha, usestaski.

Chantelle on July 02, 2019:

I lived in Ironwood. Some of the phrases are from the Western end and some from the Marquette area.

Susan Staff on June 23, 2019:

I live in Ewen. Western end of the U. P. We do not actually talk like you have indicated. Many people who settled here came from Finland. Similar land. We have indoor plumbing and everything. Hahahahaha. It is definitely beautiful. Gods country.

J arthur culy on January 20, 2019:

The u.p. is the land of beauty and the toughest nicezt people.

Chantelle Porter (author) from Ann Arbor on December 19, 2015:

Thank you so much. My parents lived in Traverse City for a few years. Small world.

moonlake from America on December 18, 2015:

I love the UP. We drove through many times and stopped by the lake, the bridge and went to the island. My family lives in Grand Haven and Traverse City so rather than go down through Chicago we liked going through the UP and over the bridge. Beautiful photos. Shared.

Chantelle Porter (author) from Ann Arbor on November 18, 2015:

Thank you fellow Yooper!

Daddy Paul from Michigan on November 18, 2015:

You forgot some Youper terms

Bomber = 22 or 24 ounce beer

Da dent and bent = part of store which sells clearance merchandise.

Tapper = 7 oz glass of draft beer

I guess when you speak them everyday you forget most people have no idea what you are talking about.

Nice read.

Chantelle Porter (author) from Ann Arbor on October 11, 2015:

Thank you! I'm assuming he went to Michigan Tech ? It's a great school.

Donna Herron from USA on October 11, 2015:

Great hub! My husband went to college in the UP in Houghton and we've been back to visit his old stopping grounds and drive up to Copper Harbor. Definitely a beautiful place. Thanks for the informative hub and great photos.

Chantelle Porter (author) from Ann Arbor on September 23, 2015:

I do hope you get back. It's a beautiful place. Thanks for stopping by.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on September 23, 2015:

It has been too many years since I crossed the Mackinac Bridge and visited upper Michigan. Maybe some today I will return and see more of the beautiful places there are to "be".

This is a refreshing hub!

Chantelle Porter (author) from Ann Arbor on September 04, 2015:

I'm glad you liked it Sherry. I haven't been back in awhile and I do miss it. Looks like it's time for a road trip. There are a lot of fun things to do in the winter if you really like snow. (Maybe that will be my next article. HaHa.) Thank you for reading.

Sherry White from Detroit on September 04, 2015:

Hey Chantelle, thanks for all this useful info. Want to go to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for so many days, but somehow the trip is never made yet. But if that place is sans queues I will definitely go there now soon.

Chantelle Porter (author) from Ann Arbor on August 29, 2015:

You betcha! Those ice caves are amazing. Amazing the power and beauty of nature. Glad you enjoyed it drbj

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 29, 2015:

Beautiful, Chantelle. I loved viewing those ice caves. Especially during today's heat. Your selection of photos is also the best. Ya eh?

Chantelle Porter (author) from Ann Arbor on August 28, 2015:

Isn't it wonderful how writing can take you to places you can never physically go?

Esmé from South Africa on August 28, 2015:

The airfare would be terrible, but I can dream...and read...



Chantelle Porter (author) from Ann Arbor on August 28, 2015:

Carb Diva- What city are they from? The UP is small. I may know them.

Emese - I hoped you would like it. Your travel articles are so interesting and beautiful.

Esja- You would love it. But the airfare would be astronomical!

Thank you everyone for reading my article.

Esmé from South Africa on August 28, 2015:

Hi Chantelle, I think I wanna go....!

Emese Fromm from The Desert on August 27, 2015:

What a great hub, Chantelle! You make me want to go there . Thank you for taking us along this journey.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on August 27, 2015:

Have a very dear family at our church who are "Yoopers". Your dictionary might help. Thanks for the fun tour.

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