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

Updated on February 5, 2018
Chantelle Porter profile image

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pictured RocksSable FallsBridalveil FallsLake SuperiorPicture Rocks National LakeshorePictured Rocks National LakeshorePictured Rocks
Pictured Rocks
Pictured Rocks | Source
Sable Falls
Sable Falls | Source
Bridalveil Falls
Bridalveil Falls | Source
Lake Superior
Lake Superior | Source
Picture Rocks National Lakeshore
Picture Rocks National Lakeshore | Source
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore | Source
Pictured Rocks
Pictured Rocks | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tahquamenon FallsUpper Tahquamenon FallsLower Falls, Tahquamenon Falls
Tahquamenon Falls
Tahquamenon Falls | Source
Upper Tahquamenon Falls
Upper Tahquamenon Falls | Source
Lower Falls, Tahquamenon Falls
Lower Falls, Tahquamenon Falls | Source

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?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mackinac BridgeMackinac BridgeMackinac BridgeMackinac Bridge Walk
Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac Bridge | Source
Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac Bridge | Source
Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac Bridge | Source
Mackinac Bridge Walk
Mackinac Bridge Walk | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kitchitikippi SpringsKitchitikippi SpringsKitchitikippi Springs
Kitchitikippi Springs
Kitchitikippi Springs | Source
Kitchitikippi Springs
Kitchitikippi Springs | Source
Kitchitikippi Springs
Kitchitikippi Springs | Source

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 | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Isle Royale National ParkMoose at Isle Royale National ParkIsle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park | Source
Moose at Isle Royale National Park
Moose at Isle Royale National Park | Source
Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park | Source

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.

Thimbleberries | Source

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?

Does the UP seem like a place you'd like to visit?

See results

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

Isle Royale:
Isle Royale National Park, Houghton, MI 49931, USA

get directions

Taquamenon Falls:
Tahquamenon Falls, McMillan, MI, USA

get directions

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore:
Munising, MI 49862, USA

get directions

Kitchitikippi Springs:
Palmer, Richmond Township, MI, USA

get directions

Mackinac Bridge:
Mackinac Bridge, Saint Ignace, MI 49781, USA

get directions

Bonus 6. Eben Ice Caves

© 2015 Chantelle Porter


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Cudighis were originally only found in the Ishpeming/Negaunee area & traditionally served with yellow mustard & chopped, raw onion. They started junking them up when restaurants elsewhere started serving them.

      If you’re having trouble finding thimbleberries, you’re not really looking for them. They’re invasive.

      Very, very few people actually speak like that. Mostly the old miners on the west end of Marquette County.

    • profile image

      Marv DeMilio 

      11 months ago

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

    • profile image


      13 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Susan Staff 

      13 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      J arthur culy 

      18 months ago

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

    • Chantelle Porter profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

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

    • moonlake profile image


      4 years ago from America

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you fellow Yooper!

    • Daddy Paul profile image

      Daddy Paul 

      4 years ago from Michigan

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

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

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 

      4 years ago from USA

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

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

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      4 years ago from Minnesota

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

      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 profile image

      Sherry White 

      4 years ago from Detroit

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

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

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      4 years ago from south Florida

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

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

    • esja profile image


      4 years ago from South Africa

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



    • Chantelle Porter profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

      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.

    • esja profile image


      4 years ago from South Africa

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

    • Emese Fromm profile image

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

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

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      4 years ago from Washington State, USA

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


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)