Today, I am going to brag a little about this incredible place in which we planted ourselves in case you ever feel like you need to breathe some of the purest air on earth and fill your senses with beauty. None of our extended family even knew this place that we found ourselves even existed. Every single one who has since found their way up here is in awe of our mountain ranges and rugged, wild beauty. The common theme is, “It’s just really hard to believe this is still Michigan!” Folks around the country have no idea the U.P. is a thing. We commonly hold both of our hands in the mitten and the U.P. demo shapes and explain that just because they flew into Detroit does in no way mean they have been to Michigan, really.
We are surrounded by a lake that looks like an ocean with 917 miles of Lake Superior shoreline. We have rivers and stone-edged cliffs that look like Idaho. We have 4,300 inland lakes — in fact many of the properties we looked to purchase came with their own lake. As in, we would have been the only owners of our own lake!
We have around 500 waterfalls and our area is rich in former copper mines (more on that later) which means we have lots of ghost towns. We have 400 hundred species of birds — most of which we didn’t have downstate (in the mitten), and abundant wildlife. We have millions of acres of state land big enough for folks to literally get lost in, while containing only 3% of Michigan’s population.
At the tippy top of the Keweenaw Peninsula, about an hour and a half from where we live, is the northernmost place in Michigan, Copper Harbor, ceded to the U.S. in 1836 from the Chippewa (Ojibwe) who had lived there for thousands of years. Northern Boreal forests, warm summers, and old growth native pines (our Michigan sequoias), world-class bike trails, ski hills, snowmobile trails, and the only island park in the National Park system (Isle Royale — pronounced like royal) make this place remarkable and unique.
Copper Harbor is a known place to view the Northern Lights on a lucky night, but the star-gazing at any point is spectacular. Fun fact: the population is only around 100 hearty folks year-round, but visit in the summer (especially this one with 30% more tourists than usual!) and it feels like standing room only! Start in Copper Harbor at the end of U.S. 41 and drive straight south just about 2,000 miles and you’re in Miami! Copper Harbor is the farthest town from an interstate highway in the continental U.S. (251 miles).
Our favorite things to do when we visit several times a year are to walk Hunter’s Point along the lake, drive all the way out to the point at the tippy top of the peninsula (only recommended via 4 wheel drive), drive up to the top of Brockway Mountain with a 360 degree view of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Lake Superior, and on a clear day, Isle Royale (which is closer to Canada than Michigan!). Brockway Mountain is the highest paved road between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Allegheny to the east.
Of course, you need to get a most delicious and unexpected meal at Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor. Expect fine dining with creative flair by the chefs while seated at the windows on Lake Superior and watch the ferry from Isle Royale come in while the waitresses welcome it in with a dance! The drive up and down the Keweenaw is SPECTACULAR along the lakeshore! You will stop for more photos than you can believe. Eat amazing BBQ and my favorite Poutine EVER and have a lovely overnight at Fitzgerald’s (The Fitz). You can get jam and fresh baked goods made by monks (yes you read that right) at the Jampot. You can eat fresh-caught whitefish from Lake Superior at Peterson’s Fish Market (here’s my favorite recipe with their smoked whitefish). Time it with sunset for views you’ll remember forever. Dip your feet in the water and find rock-treasures. Ignore your phone (no cell service here!), and just take in the unspoiled, magnificent gift of Creation.
Have you ever visited the Keweenaw Peninsula? What did you enjoy while you were here?
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