Here’s some interesting history: Did you know that in 1836, the state of Michigan was awarded the Upper Peninsula in exchange for conceding the Toledo Strip to Ohio? With no offense to Toledo, we think Michigan got the better end of that deal. Here’s why:
From a numbers standpoint, the Upper Peninsula is bigger than many realize. Spanning 16,452 square miles of rugged forests, lakes and dunes, it would be the 42nd-largest state on its own and includes some of the most pristine and untouched land of anywhere you can find in the Midwest.
Travel any direction and you’ll find hundreds of miles of hiking, biking and horse riding trails, more than 300 waterfalls and the peninsula’s only National Park, Isle Royale, which has the fewest visitors per year than any other National Park in the continental U.S. If you’re looking for a place to set up camp, the Porcupine Mountains on the west side of the peninsula provide unbeatable views with a hike to Lake of the Clouds.
What’s more, the U.P. is home to countless moose, wolves, coyotes, deer and many other animals you won’t often find south of the Mackinac Bridge. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast of any kind, the Upper Peninsula will seem like a paradise not far from home.
If you’re traveling to the U.P. from Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, you’ll come across one of, if not the, most iconic spots in the state: the Mackinac Bridge. The Mighty Mac is the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere with 7,400 feet of road suspended over the waters below, making a drive across a true bucket-list item. This year, the bridge will be celebrating 60 years of uniting our two peninsulas.
Once you’ve arrived, plan out which (if not all) of the U.P.’s many historical sites you’ll visit. As the area was once booming with mining companies in the late 1800s, many old mines are still around, including the Quincy Mine in Hancock which offers fascinating guided tours. Notably the U.P. was at the forefront of the nation’s mineral boom, with the Keweenaw Peninsula (northernmost point) recognized for once producing the world’s largest amount of copper.
The U.P. is still considered a mecca for timber as logging continues to be a main industry of export today. Here you’ll find acres upon acres of the state’s official tree, the Eastern White Pine, which was a focal point of the lumber industry in the pioneer days. There is even rumor that Paul Bunyan once called the Upper Peninsula home!
The Upper Peninsula has activities and adventures that create memories that will last a lifetime. From kayaking at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to seeing crystal-clear waters at the state’s largest spring, Kitch-iti-kipi, the U.P. is full of things to explore.
If you’re interested in traveling back in time, a visit to Mackinac Island should top your list. Here, bicycles and horse and buggy are the only way to get around as you make your way between fudge stops before taking some photos at the world-famous Grand Hotel.
With everything there is to do and see in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it truly is a place for everyone to appreciate and enjoy.