You’ve heard the stories. Yes, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan does indeed get a whole lot of snow between December and March. However, we happen to have some of the best snow plowing crews in the world. This means your scenic stops are still possible come wintertime. So, hop in that car of yours and explore all of the crisp, breathtaking winter scenery the U.P. offers.
We know you are up for a challenge, but we wanted to make your U.P. winter voyage as easy as possible. So, here’s a list of six stop-worthy scenic sites. They are a great way to break up your U.P adventuring or to simply be your end destination.
The town of ChristmasBack to Top of List
Christmas comes year-round in this cute, small town named after the holiday. It’s located not far from Munising. Here you will find Santa’s Workshop, a giant Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, and the comical “Welcome to Christmas” sign. Christmas is a great place to take some novelty photos to show all of your friends. If you want to make your stop in Christmas even more scenic, drive to the End of the Road Lighthouse. As you go east of Christmas on M-28, watch carefully for the road to the lighthouse (it’s very easy to miss). Make sure the road conditions are safe before venturing here. While it’s a short road, it is unpaved.
Tahquamenon Falls, ParadiseBack to Top of List
The Tahquamenon Falls is a must-stop on any season’s scenic sites list. But the wintry mix of the snow, ice and roar of the amber water make for a wholly unique experience. For ease of access in the winter, we recommend viewing the Upper Falls. A short, well-maintained walkway will take you to Brink View. The scenery is breathtaking. Note: To get to the Brink viewing area you do have to go down (and back up) 94 steps. After taking in the falls, stop at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub. It’s conveniently located by the Falls main parking lot and serves a hearty selection of food and beverages.
Bridge View Park, St. IgnaceBack to Top of List
Whether you enter the Upper Peninsula from the Lower Peninsula or come through on the west side, seeing the Mackinac Bridge from the winter shores of the U.P. is a sight to behold. The Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere, coming in at roughly 5 miles long. It’s a true engineering marvel. Bridge View Park is an easy place to see the bridge. When you stand by the shore, keep an eye out for the blue ice of the Mackinac Straits. This is a rare natural occurrence, but you are in for a treat if you are fortunate enough to see this phenomenon. (The ice isn’t really blue but the lack of bubbles allows the light to reflect in a way that it looks blue).
Point Iroquois Lighthouse, BrimleyBack to Top of List
20 miles west of Sault St. Marie stands one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the Upper Peninsula, the Point Iroquois Lighthouse. The creamy white walls blend serenely with the snowy blanket of winter while the red roof provides a fiery pop to the scene. Visit in the evening during Christmas time and you will find the lighthouse decked out in lights, a heartwarming sight in the chill of the night. From the lighthouse’s parking lot, you can take a short walk down to the shore of Whitefish Bay and view Lake Superior in all its winter might.
Lower Harbor Ore Dock, MarquetteBack to Top of List
A historical landmark of Marquette, the Lower Harbor Ore Dock is a site you won’t see anywhere else. Jutting out of Lake Superior, this hulking iron dock stretches out for hundreds of feet. During the winter freeze, the ore dock gains the beauty of a frosty frame that is sure to captivate. A heavy snow or wind storm will create ice shelves that hang off the dock’s iron, top that off with a sunset and you have a photographer’s dream. After visiting the dock, change up the pace and stop by the nearby ore dock inspired brewery, Ore Dock Brewing Co., for a refreshing beverage.
Houghton Waterfront Walkway, HoughtonBack to Top of List
The canal frozen over, the Portage Lift Bridge towering above, fluffy snowflakes falling all around you, a winter stroll on the Houghton Waterfront Walkway is a peaceful and stunning venture. This walkway takes you along the Portage Canal in downtown Houghton, so not only do you have the beautiful view of the icy water but also the historic vistas that Houghton and sister city Hancock offer. If you don’t want to walk, you can park at the Kestner Waterfront Park and take in the view all the same. Or if you are looking for an elevated view of the canal and surrounding areas, you can head to the Keweenaw Waterway Scenic Turnout in Hancock. Combine both the walkway and the scenic turnout for a full picture of the beautiful winter scenery the area offers.
The snowy world of the Upper Peninsula really is something special to see. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful from a rosy sunrise to a star-blanketed night. Best of all, you don’t need any special sports equipment to experience it. Just drive throughout the U.P. and look around you. Then come back often. These six scenic stops are just the beginning of why you’ll love winter UP here.
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