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Old 02-08-2010, 11:33 AM   #1
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Upper Peninsula of MI

Time to think of summer plans!

So we are considering an August trip to the Upper Peninsula of MI and are looking for recommendations on things to do and RV parks. We're full hookup people and will be traveling with our two standard poodles. also, how bad are the flies and mosquitos in August?
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:31 PM   #2
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We did a major tour through MI last Oct. and still only saw part of it. So, it depends on how much time you want to spend in the south compared to the UP.

Here's a recent thread with lots of really good info: Michigan Tour

We drove a circle from Port Huron to Grand Haven on the west to SS Marie to Mackinac to Port Huron. We intended staying on the coast, but the high winds of what amounted to Nov. gales drove us inland part of the way.

MI Interstates are at least as boring as anybody else's. We like lighthouses, water and beach and the coastal highways are scenic and easily navigated with a trailer in tow. Most lighthouses are accessible with a trailer, but check out Michigan Lighthouses and Google satellite views so you don't get trapped. Also this amazing site (thanks Bobo): Lighthouses of the Great Lakes. I can pm you more info if you want. Sleeping Bear Dunes is also a great spot we had to pass up last time.

In SS Marie there are two campgrounds on the MI side right on the river if you like to watch lakers--quite open, no flies. The lock cruise is very worthwhile and educational. There's a nice train ride on the CDN side, but you have to like trains and bring passports.

At Mackinaw, avoid Mill Creek unless you like mega campgrounds where you have to drive and drive just to get to your site. Their wifi is "just give us your credit card number" wifi. Otherwise it's clean and nice enough, just too big. We prefer a rather rustic Good Sam, TeePee, which is much closer to town. We found lots of town and county parks that are likely to be heavily used in Aug. Some are in Trailer Life, some not.

We found one day to be adequate for Mackinac Is. Plan for a full day and eat supper on the Is. Take a wagon ride as soon as you get there to see the back roads and visit the fort. Then just wander around, take lots of pictures and eat fudge.

We've only travelled through the UP other than SS Marie. Hwy 2 is a very picturesque drive along Lake MI. We've also driven a number of the interior hwys going west because Hwy 2 dips so far south. All have been very good. Marquette is a nice small city with amazing ore docks, but again you have to be into that sort of thing.

There aren't a whole lot of RV parks on the UP, but lots of SP and NF, so plan carefully if you want full service.

Make reservations everywhere.

Henry
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:27 PM   #3
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Michigan's UP is amazing, it's like no other place I've been. We went up there for two weeks back in 2004 (with our old Sunline) and it's one of the best trips I can remember. I recall telling her it was like a poor man's Hawaii. Equally beautiful, just a little cooler!

We stay exclusively at State parks. They are consistently nice, but lack water/sewer hookups. They do have dump stations with potable fresh water fill, which was good enough for us because we only stayed a few days at each campground.

On my must-see list would be the following:

1. Tacqhuamenon Falls SP
2. Pictured Rocks hike (northern shore)
3. Ontonagon SP (upper upper left)... porcupine mountain...this is one of the most amazing places I've been. Old growth forest, and the darkest night and best northern lights show I've ever seen.

Keep in mind the UP is huge, especially if you're traveling from one side to another. Fuel stations are scarce, so plan accordingly, especially if your rig takes diesel like mine. We took this trip before having little kids, and can't wait to go back... but it's not something small children will appreciate. So we'll probably wait a couple years before returning.
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Old 02-08-2010, 07:57 PM   #4
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The UP trip is one of Barbara and my favorites, we often go this way on our way to the Minnesota State Fair. We always use the excuse that by going up through Michigan we avoid Chicago which is my least favorite city to tow a trailer around or as with our first trip through. Chicago

As for things to see; although it’s not technically in the UP Barb loves Mackinaw Island. They have a neat old Victorian Hotel which was the backdrop for the movie “Some Where in Time”, a fort on top of a hill, carriage rides, bikes for rent , a lot of very tourist stuff but if the weather is cooperating some truly spectacular views. If you are looking for a place to camp we like the KOA at Mackinaw City, they have a free shuttle service to the Island.

Although it’s a bit of a hike I might suggest going up to the Whitefish Point and the Great Lakes Ship Wreck museum and then see the locks at Sault St. Marie. There a number of camp grounds in the area. Including a nice Michigan state park although I don’t recall the name

If you request information from the State of Michigan they will send you a lot of very well done travel information. They also have E Mail program called pure Michigan.

Not sure how far west you are going but I might suggest stopping at Bayfield Wisconsin and taking a trip to the Aposile islands National park out in Lake Superior. We stayed down at a KOA in Hayward Wisconsin but that was only do to my poor map reading skills.
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:02 AM   #5
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We've been to the UP on numerous occasions and love it more each time we go. First thing you should do is pick up a book on Michigan lighthouses and then visit as many as you can. They're fascinating structures with fascinating histories. What to see? From east to west:

Sault St. Marie - the Soo Locks. An engineering marvel. Try to time it so that you're there when a ship is going through.

St. Ignace/Mackinac Island - very touristy, but worth seeing at least once. Mill Creek Campground is a good base of operations for this area and Sault St. Marie, although it's on the lower peninsula.

Whitefish Point Shipwreck Museum and Lighthouse- if you're doing the UP you have to do shipwrecks. You have to like Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" since they play it all the time.

Tacqhuamenon Falls State Park - a beautiful place to hike.

Escanaba - a relatively large town for the UP. It has a tremendous waterfront park. Eat breakfast at the Swedish Pantry, a local institution.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - if you don't do anything else, you have to go here. Warning: the flies can be murderous. Be prepared to wear long pants and long sleeves. You can take a boat trip from Munising to see the pictures rocks themselves.

Copper Harbor - small, picturesque town at the northern tip of the UP. It's a fair drive to get there, but it's worth it. The town's small enough to negotiate by bike. Eat at the Harbor Haus restaurant. It's very good and none of the other restaurants are even close in quality. There's camping at Fort Wilkins State Park and Lake Fannie Hooe Resort. We stayed at Fannie Hooe: it's not a resort by any stretch of the imagination, but it's close to everything.

You limit yourself by staying at full hookup places. The Hiawatha National Forest has many gorgeous limited service campgrounds. We haven't stayed in a state park campground, but the ones we've seen look nice. The private RV park situation is not the best (at least in our experience). We've used rvparkreviews.com to find a few places on the UP. They were all decent enough places, but we wouldn't go out of our way to stay at any of them again.

If you're into mysteries, there are a few series that take place in the UP. the Alex McKnight series by Steve Hamilton is probably the best. There's also the Woods Cop series by Joseph Heywood, and the Page One series by Nancy Barr. There's others as well, but these are the most fun to read while traveling the UP and they give you some sense of the place too. the owner of Grandpa's Barn bookstore in Copper Harbor can tell you more about these series, she's an expert.

Hope this helps.
Don
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:23 PM   #6
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WOW…. What absolutely great feedback!!! Sunline owners are the best!

While we are doing upper NYS and PA this year, upper MI may well be in the plans in the future.

Thanks for creating such great info.

John
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Old 02-09-2010, 08:45 PM   #7
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I agree with John. We are doing the UP the first 3 weeks in Aug. and the info sure helps in making our plans. I am just waiting to make reservations in the SP's as you can't make them more the 6 months out.
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Old 02-09-2010, 09:06 PM   #8
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We are Lighthouse people also. We have visited many Lighthouse's and even had the privelege of spending a week staying at the New Dungness Lighthouse at Sequim WA. We were 5 miles out on a Spit and were dropped off on a Sat and picked up the following Sat. WOW what a great week. So we are looking forward to the UP as it has many Lighthouse's.
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Old 02-10-2010, 04:43 AM   #9
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Thank you for all the great suggestions. We, being sailors for over 30 years, love lighthouses and will make sure to get as much info as possible about them. I want to see the Soo Lock and would enjoy a campsite where I can watch the lake freighters.

We will be leaving MD on August 23 returning the week after Labor Day. This will be a wonderful trip!
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Old 02-10-2010, 09:39 AM   #10
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Someone mentioned biting flies... yes, the UP is known for these. August is a great month to go, as the biting flies seem to be the worse in June, and sometimes last into July a bit.

We went in August and though it was starting to cool, especially at night, we had no problems with flies.

I mentioned above the hike at the pictured rocks lakeshore. I did not emphasize enough what an amazing hike this is. I've been fortunate enough to do some amazing hikes in my lifetime, including the Napali coast in Hawaii which is amazing. IMO, the pictured rocks lakeshore hike is even better! It's about 10 miles in length and there is some elevation change, but the surface is great and and I'd say the difficulty level is pretty low.

If you are physically able, I can't recommend this strongly enough!
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Old 02-10-2010, 03:43 PM   #11
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If you want to visit MI Lighthouses get this book before you go. It's in its 8th printing now (200, but not really out of date as the subjects are 100-150 years old. Most lighthouses have a full page with historical text, color photo, small map and driving directions if accessible. We paid $18 for ours in a lighthouse gift shop. Best money we spent and a great souvenir.

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Old 02-12-2010, 06:09 PM   #12
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I know this is a long thread already, but since we used to live in Michigan and the Upper Peninsula was our get-away spot, I thought I'd add some places not to miss in both the lower part of the state and the upper.

If you're into paddling, then Michigan is a blast and be sure to either bring the canoe or kayaks if you have them, but dont fret if you dont, because every major river has a livery and sometimes it makes it easier to just use theirs rather than lug your own with you.


Cindy Paddling the Sturgeon River in Mid-Summer

Rivers not to miss, The Sturgeon if you're into fast, challenging currents. This river is about an hour below the Mackinaw Bridge just off of I-75 and is the fastest flowing river in the Lower Peninsula. Probably our favorite river in the state and Cindy and I have paddled it dozens of times from spring with large chunks of Ice floating beside our boats to mid-july where you're tipping over just to cool off

The Rifle River, very long and one could spend days paddling along the rifle. Good current so you dont really need to worry about doing too much paddling. Same with the AuSable which has a very nice current

All of these rivers have campgrounds along them that range from rustic boondocking types to full hook-ups.

Around this same area, which is North Western Lower Peninsula are tons of great tons to visit. The Tunnel of Trees, Cross Village, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Silver Lake Sand Dunes and hundreds of other neat little places in-between. As long as you stay off the main highways, Michigan is very pretty and has alot to offer.

Once you get to Mackinaw, spend a day on the island just to say you've done it, but head up over the bridge to the town of Paradise which is where Tahquamenon Falls is which offers some of the most picturesque scenes the state has.


Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Tahquamenon Falls is probably a day in and of itself and make sure you rent one of the little boats to go explore the lower section of the falls

The Upper Peninsula is larger than many North Eastern States alone, so dont plan on seeing the entire thing unless you're planning marathon driving days

Ok, just got a call and have to run into town, but I'll add a ton of more places I'd recommend when I get home


45th Parellel Sign in Michigan! Great photo for the Scrap Book
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Old 03-29-2010, 06:19 PM   #13
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My fav trip

I live in Michigan, and a camping trip to the UP is a must every summer! We make reservations at Tahquamenon Falls state park, since we don't require sewer/water hookup, and just use the sanitation station. The UP of Michigan -- actually ALL of Michigan -- is a nature lover's camping dream. Tahq Falls is beautiful, Whitefish Point is worth a visit, and you can stumble on little gems like Vermilion Point nature preserve, or Point Crispin lighthouse. You may even stumble across a moose browsing on the side of the road, like we did! Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, rivers and small inland lakes everywhere. WELL worth the visit.
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Old 03-30-2010, 11:45 AM   #14
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I live about an hour south of the Bridge and go to the UP quite a bit. In September 2006 we circled the UP with the Sunline for a week.

I only beg to differ about Copper Harbor. We camped at Fanny Hooe and it was nice. But the rest of the town just seemed too uppity and stuck their nose up at us and practically refused to wait on us at the restaurant. The whole Keweenaw peninsula seemed a lot more developed than the rest of the UP.

But some other places that we did like:

Two Hearted River campground - there is a review of it elsewhere in this site that I commented on. VERY out of the way but it for some reason it gives this really nice vibe. Everybody else seems to think so too, it was packed when every other campground was dead.

Garlin Zoo - about 45 min west of the Bridge near Naubinway. A small zoo in the woods. To me it is much preferable to a sun baked concrete slab in the city. The kids like it.

Far far west in the UP, there are some things.

Copper Peak - an old ski flying ramp that you can go up and on a clear day you can see a LONG ways.

Black River Harbor - a nice place with a large suspension footbridge.

Porcupine Mountains

We camped at Henry Lake campground, about 4 miles from the Wisconsin border. We ate at Ma's Place in Wakefield twice, it was really good.
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