It’s getaway destinations like Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Hiawatha National Forest, Ottawa National Forest, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and historic Kitch-iti-Kipi where visitors discover solace in nature.
From the breathtaking waterfalls and hiking adventures to beachfront panoramic views of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron there are activities to experience in all parts of the Upper Peninsula.
But these natural gems – some of Michigan’s best outdoor adventure spots – won’t stay that way without the visitors showing respect for the natural resources and the people who live and work in the U.P.
Here are five tips to keep the U.P. and its attractions pristine place to visit for your next trip:
Stay on designated trailsBack to Top of List
There’s a reason that trails were developed the way they were and follow the path that they do. It’s for the safety of people hiking, biking in the spring, summer and fall or snowmobiling and cross country skiing in the winter. The trails also are mapped to limit erosion, protect the environment and safeguard vegetation that could be affected by people trampling over it.
Leave no traceBack to Top of List
It should go without saying that visitors should clean up after themselves, whether they’re camping, kayaking, hiking or spending a day on the beach. It goes beyond picking up your trash, however. U.P. guests are encouraged to bring reusable products – water bottles, washable dinnerware and other eco-conscious items – when they are out and about. Also, those who bring watercraft to the U.P. should ensure that they are clean and free of invasive species before coming, and that they are that way on your departure. Tourism leaders also recommend obtaining wood for campfires once you’re over the Mackinac Bridge to limit the spread of emerald ash borer and other pests.
Enjoy other humansBack to Top of List
Again, ideally, this would go unsaid, but it’s important to remember that employees at your hotel, in restaurants and at the attractions you visit are there to give guests a positive experience. Give them grace. There’s not enough of them as key locations battle with full staffing here, just as everywhere. And don’t forget that the other people on vacation are trying to enjoy their time off as well. Step aside on the trail for them to pass. Say thanks to those who show you the courtesy. It goes a long way, and you’ll enjoy your visit more.
Reservations aren't optionalBack to Top of List
Would you go anywhere else without a place to stay? Likely not. While there may have been a time that you could head out on a spur of the moment trip and land overnight accommodations, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely. The hotels and campgrounds run at or near capacity during vacation season, so it’s strongly recommended that visitors secure a reservation. It’s always better to plan ahead. Additionally, because of the U.P.’s vast size, it’s helpful to understand that you’re not going to cram everything into a day, a week or more. People who call it home are still finding new experiences, and guests should be mindful of what they can accomplish and what they should plan on doing on the next trip.
Have a plan and prepare for weatherBack to Top of List
The long-running joke in Michigan is if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes. That’s more true in the U.P. than anywhere else. Temperature swings, fast incoming storms and other elements have a way of turning a great vacation into a struggle. Dress in layers and be ready to make a change depending on the conditions of the moment. Also, it’s incredibly helpful to be aware of your surroundings and have a solid plan for your outdoor trip. Know the path, understand the water and pack snacks and water to keep you feeling fresh during the adventure. While the U.P. claims only 3 percent of the state’s population, it accounts for roughly 33 percent of Michigan’s land mass with 16,000 square miles of fun. When you know where you’re going, you’ll know how to get back.