Get Lost, Get Found in the Upper Peninsula - We'll Give You a Hand

is45-1308673902-11522.jpeg
Portage Lift Bridge - Houghton/Hancock - Photo credit: Travel Michigan

When you ask someone from Michigan where they live, they’re likely to show you their hands. The palms will be up, the right hand aligned south to north, the left hand positioned above and perpendicular, east to west. It’s a simple gesture, with practical purposes, but also a warm invitation to explore our homeland, hand in hand.

This is the story of the upper hand, our beloved Upper Peninsula, or as we call it, the U.P. It’s a land carved by the forces of the Great Lakes and warmed by our independent and hardy people, affectionately known as “Yoopers.” Come lose yourself in our pristine woods, water and way of life. But don’t worry, everyone you meet has a map.

Pull into one of our sleepy little towns and ask somebody for directions. Maybe you’ll see your route traced on the work-hardened palm of an iron miner or lumberman. Deep, calloused creases lead to a favorite fishing spot along a cedar-shaded trout stream.

is57-1247157746-71554.jpeg
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse - Photo Credit: Gary Platte

From there, hike the highlands and top out on ancient peaks for panoramic views across the rolling spines of a Midwest mountain range. Soak up the sun on a warm slab of bedrock where glaciers met their match eons ago. Plunge back into the deep woods on a mountain bike, following miles of trails ranging from single track to city pathways.

Maybe you’ll get directions from the blueberry stained fingers of a giddy suntanned child whose family is picking berries along a quiet backroad. Many such paths wind through our pinestudded plains where the rich, acidic soil sprouts sweet fern and the tangy azure wild fruit that has sustained our residents for generations.

Take a left at the next two-track road, and follow it to a secret, sandy beach on a silent spring-fed pond. Shed your stress, slip into the refreshing depths, and follow the cleansing waters downstream, over riffles and cascades to one of the three Great Lakes that caress the U.P. coasts.

is30-1308674933-24527.jpeg
Fort Mackinac - Mackinac County - Photo credit: Travel Michigan

Savor water so clean it’s as if you were the first to witness its power and purity. Hang around until dusk and watch the waves quench even the sun’s fiery thirst, as it sinks in a deepening afterglow, and you’re left with the promise of another perfect U.P. tomorrow.

You’ll love our wild lands and the freedom here, but don’t be surprised by our civilized side either. We call the Upper Peninsula a “5-Star Wilderness” for the convenience and amenities found throughout this natural paradise. Yep, that’s right, five stars—one for every finger on our map.

Grab a booth at a local diner and inquire about where to, and you may get directions on hands as smooth as the marble countertops where homemade candies cool. Or they could be soft and dusted with flour from decades of rolling out the pastry crusts of our most famous food, the pasty—a hearty meat pie with a history dating back to Cornish mining families.

is10-1308675351-31413.jpeg
Seul Choix Point Lighthouse - Photo credit: Travel Michigan

Whatever hands greet you at meal time, they’re sure to point the way to a variety of tidy lodging options, from converted lighthouses and historic B&Bs to affordable sportsman’s cabins, family resorts and convenient national franchises.

Though our untamed landscape is irresistible, look closer and you’ll find manmade paradises too, like our excellent golf courses and ski resorts hewn from the land, but in harmony with their surroundings.

Looking for a good museum, or a little shopping? Dessert and an outdoor concert, perhaps? Then continue down this fairway, dogleg right, past the headwall and through the terrain park to one of our upscale downtowns for a night out. Satisfy yourself with old-fashioned comfort cuisine, healthy locally grown produce at a farmers market or just grab some thimbleberry jam, maple syrup and fudge for a feast back home.

is09-1308675545-34471.jpeg
Moose in the UP - Photo credit: Jack Deo

You’ll have to excuse us if we just hold up our mittens in winter. The crisp air and bountiful snow have taught us to keep them on, even while showing folks around. Trace a line along the seam of a deer-skin glove and imagine the endless ice fishing lakes, skating rinks, ski trails and snowmobile routes. Winter isn’t a time of rest in the U.P., and you’re just as likely to be out having fun in a lake-effect snowstorm as kicking back on a beach in summer.

Snowshoe to a remote cabin, sip cocoa by a blazing fire and give thanks for the snow that covers your tracks. Tomorrow you’ll make new ones through a silent, shrouded woods to a frozen waterfall where you can get your first chance at the sport of ice climbing. Hop aboard a dogsled and hold on tight for a midnight tour under a full moon. Feel your adrenaline spike as ski jumpers sail through the air at an international tournament.

Wherever you go in the Upper Peninsula, and whatever season, you can be sure there’ll be hands to guide you and open arms to greet you. Welcome to our 5-Star Wilderness, it’s the best—hands down! Michigan’s Upper Peninsula!