Night owls, sightseers, late-night drivers and adventure seekers alike are called to discover the night. Believe us, you early birds and indoor enthusiasts will want to step out of your comfort zone and into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for this, too! The U.P. has a unique advantage when it comes to dark sky viewing. A lack of light pollution and proximity to the North Pole make for excellent stargazing and Northern Lights viewing. We have both. The farther north and closer to Lake Superior’s shoreline you are, the better. Here are some of the best places for stargazing in Michigan’s U.P.
Drummond IslandBack to Top of List
This Lake Huron island in the eastern Upper Peninsula is a natural dark sky park of its own with some of the best stargazing and Northern Lights viewing in the world. With 34 inland lakes in addition to the Great Lake shoreline, there are a multitude of spots perfect for plopping down a blanket and looking up. We suggest starting with Drummond Island Township Park Beach about six miles east of the ferry dock. You can also try Glen Cove Beach on the eastern end of the island, just north of Marble Head. What better place to look at the stars and moon than a shoreline that is crescent shaped? The sunsets here are some of the best in the U.P., so stake out your spot early enough to witness two beautiful skies in one night.
Whitefish PointBack to Top of List
Whitefish Point is a critical turning point for all vessel traffic entering and leaving the largest of all the Great Lakes. It’s also home to the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior! Spend the evening watching these freighters pass through and observing migratory birds. Then, when the stars fill the night sky, look upward at the luminous freckles above Lake Superior.
Brimley State ParkBack to Top of List
One of the oldest state parks in the Upper Peninsula, Brimley State Park was established in 1923 when the Village of Brimley gave the DNR the park's initial 38 acres. More acres have been added over the years. Lay a blanket along 2,000 feet of sandy shoreline stretching along Lake Superior, look up and stargaze. You can also catch passing freighters and a glimpse of Canada across the lake.
Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreBack to Top of List
The country’s first national lakeshore, Pictured Rocks pairs Lake Superior viewing with its historical, sandstone cliffs. If you think these views are stunning in the daylight, just wait for nightfall. With the park open 24 hours a day, you will have no trouble finding a spot to stargaze. Here are a few dark sky viewing destinations within the national park.
Plop down your blankets on the west end of this beach. Your view of the sky will fall just over the sandstone cliffs. You might even see the brilliant hues of Northern Lights dancing on top of them!
Capture a mental image of the sky by framing your view with this spot — a narrow gap between two cliffs! You can access it while hiking.
Throughout the year, campers at Twelvemile Beach claim over and over again that this remote beach’s stargazing is unparalleled. Give it a try in April when fewer people will be there!
Grand Portal Point
While looking off this highest point along the shoreline of Pictured Rocks, you may feel like you’re being sucked into a portal. If that’s the case, it’s one with expansive cliffs, Lake Superior extending forever and an incredible view. Add several stars in the night sky and a peak viewing month for the Northern Lights, and you’ve got yourself the perfect spot. Peak viewing months for the Northern Lights are April, October and November.
Marquette to Munising along M-28Back to Top of List
One route that offers stop-in-your-tracks scenery is M-28 that stretches along the coast of Lake Superior between Munising and Marquette. This highway is ripe with turnouts along the many bays, allowing you to take in Lake Superior’s beauty at your own pace and catch the night sky the whole way. The mighty waves of Lake Superior create a view wholly unique.
Au Train LakeBack to Top of List
Part of Hiawatha National Forest, AuTrain Lake is the largest inland lake in the area. It is an 830-acre lake with a maximum depth of 30 feet and an average depth of 12 feet. The large size of this lake provides miles of prime boating, canoeing and fishing. After a day of activity, lay along the shore and await the night sky’s arrival over the Hiawatha’s horizon of trees.
Keweenaw International Dark Sky ParkBack to Top of List
The Upper Peninsula now has its first designated International Dark Sky Park making it the third in all of Michigan. Based at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in Copper Harbor, it is at the northernmost tip of the U.P. You would be hard-pressed to find a better place than this to stargaze or view the Northern Lights in Michigan or anywhere in the 48 contiguous states.
The lodge property is open to the public at night all year round — you do not need to stay overnight to experience the Dark Sky Park.
When you arrive, the Lodge will impress you with how it significantly reduced its outdoor light footprint. Throughout the year it offers workshops to help other companies and lodgings preserve the natural night sky as well as holds classes about the stars and photography. If you are able to stay over, there are many outdoor activities to do during the day ranging from mountain biking, hiking, trail running, golfing, birdwatching, sea kayaking, snowshoeing, skiing and fat tire biking.
Eagle River to Copper Harbor on M-26Back to Top of List
Take M-26 through Eagle River along the northern shores of the Keweenaw Peninsula to Copper Harbor. This route gives you a little bit of everything the U.P. offers. A historic mining town in Calumet, a coastal lighthouse in Eagle Harbor and a forested adventure spot in Copper Harbor. A new show debuts each night with breathtaking dark sky viewing opportunities in the northernmost part of our peninsula.
Plan your U.P. stargazing trip today
Map out your route and book your stay today. You’ll want to rest up before venturing out into the dark sky to see all the incredible sights she has to offer — night owl or not.