While we love to share the highlights of everything you can do under an Upper Peninsula sun in any season, we would be remiss to skip over all the exploring you can do when the sun goes down. Particularly, our Great Lakes calmly sending waves to the shoreline under a starry-filled sky. Many visitors spend their days seeing as much of our beautiful peninsula as they can that they often miss out on the unique views only available under the moonlight. That’s why we are offering some late night drive ideas for you to prioritize on your next trip. Find one in the region you are visiting, and explore the jaw-droppingly peaceful coastal shoreline route!
M-64 Ontonagon to Lake of the CloudsBack to Top of List
This late night drive lasts for about half an hour along Lake Superior shoreline. Cap it off by pulling up to the Lake of the Clouds overlook for a rare view of the popular destination. Under starry skies, you’ll see the water well over the treetops. Lake of the Clouds is open throughout the night, so come by at any time. You’ll also be able to do significant stargazing here as there is little light pollution within Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
M-26 Eagle River to Copper HarborBack 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, a forested adventure spot in Copper Harbor, stargazing and Northern Lights viewing opportunities and lastly, all of that snow in the winter. We average 200+ inches of falling flakes annually up here. Drive safe and pull off to catch some flakes on your tongue for a cute memory of date night or a family trip.
M-35 Escanaba to MenomineeBack to Top of List
This hidden Upper Peninsula coast hugs the shoreline the entire way for about an hour of driving along M-35. Before you leave around sunset, stop by the Sand Point Lighthouse in Escanaba. This white-brick light still guides ships to this day and it has survived storms and fires since 1868 to do so. Along your route, stop at the Cedar River State Harbor for expansive views of Lake Michigan that seemingly go on for miles. End your drive by going to the Menominee North Pier Lighthouse, where on a calm night, you can walk out to the pier to see the guiding light up close.
M-28 Marquette to MunisingBack 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 frozen beauty at your own pace in the winter. The mighty waves of Lake Superior create a view wholly unique. In the rare occurrence that Superior freezes over, you can look out upon miles and miles of ice. Either Munising or Marquette will work as your endpoint. Both offer up historic views, great food and shops for the next day. Munising is home to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and you can view these sandstone cliffs all night long, too!
US-2 St. Ignace to NaubinwayBack to Top of List
Whether you are driving towards St. Ignace or Naubinway this drive packs a scenic punch. US-2 hugs the coast of Lake Michigan, offering up lakeshore vistas and plenty of picturesque turnouts. The landscape changes from forested terrain to rocky shoreline to rolling dunes over the course of only a few miles. From St. Ignace, catch glimpses of the mighty Mackinac Bridge connecting Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Have your camera ready – the bridge is lit up at night and the colored lights reflect into the water.
Lakeshore Drive & M-123 from Point Iroquois Lighthouse to Whitefish PointBack to Top of List
This Eastern U.P. coastline drive takes you along Lake Superior in about an hour. After viewing Point Iroquois Lighthouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, start your journey to Whitefish Point. Here, you’ll see Whitefish Point Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in the entire Upper Peninsula. Part of the Seney Wildlife Refuge, this is a stopping point for migratory birds returning in the spring. On select dates throughout the year, visitors can observe the owl banders in action on Friday and Saturday evenings from dusk to midnight. Visit the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory calendar for updated information on these events.
M-134 from I-75 to De Tour VillageBack to Top of List
Take this half hour cruise along Lake Huron, and stop at the Bush Bay Scenic Overlook on your way! Along this route, you can also stop at DeTour Roadside Park. Your drive will take you along several of Lake Huron’s bays including Saint Vital Bay, Carlton Bay and Seymour Bay. On this drive, you’ll also be able to see the Les Cheneaux Islands from the highway. Search for guided paddling trips along this route that launch after sunset — which is a great time to catch night time wildlife activity. When you make it to De Tour Village, watch the massive Great Lakes freighters pass by.
Fill up your gas tank, have your camera ready and pick a playlist! These roads were made to be traveled and the night sky is awaiting with a spectacular show for you. You’ll be glad you ventured out at night for these drives.