Some places defy words to describe them. Keweenaw County is one of those. As far north as you can go in Michigan, you’ll be rewarded for taking the time to get there with picturesque harbor towns, hauntingly rugged coastlines and stories of our copper mining past that invigorate your spirit. This place stays in your heart forever.
Keweenaw County, located at the northernmost tip of Michigan, is where Lake Superior and the earth live in breathtaking harmony. Since ancient times people have come here, drawn by the native copper whose lure in the mid 1800s swelled the population by tens of thousands seeking their fortunes. You can relive memories of the Copper Rush in the county’s ghost towns and guided tours at the Delaware Mine in Delaware.
Fort Wilkins Historic State Park Photo credit: A Pater
Living History Among Enchanted Forests
At the tip-top of the Upper Peninsula sits historic Fort Wilkins State Park.. Travel back in time with costumed interpreters from the Michigan History Center to meet historically-based characters from the 1870 settlement. Join in games from times past and participate in daily life as it once was at this remote garrison. Stay and play onsite at the Fort Wilkins State Park campground so you won’t miss a moment of the fun! Located between the crystal clear waters of Lake Superior and serene Lake Fanny Hooe, where anglers can try their luck catching bass, trout, walleye and perch.
Take scenic Brockway Mountain Drive south of Fort Wilkins to the Estivant Pines. This ancient stand of virgin white pines was preserved through a grassroots community effort. Hike through this enchanting forest of 300 year old trees and listen to the wind as it whispers through the pines. While you’re admiring the dazzling flora and fauna, you may even surprise a deer munching on thimbleberries!
If you’re searching for a picture perfect lighthouse, be sure to include Eagle Harbor Lighthouse in your travels. Not only does it look like something from a storybook, follow the path to the shore and you will be treated to a million dollar view. The site’s four museums tell fascinating tales of local maritime history. Experience life as a lightkeeper in the Eagle River Cottage which is available for week long rentals.
Brockway Mountain Drive in Fall Photo credit: Gary R Ennis
Some argue that Copper Harbor is home to some of the best mountain biking in the United States. The IMBA designated Epic Trails do not disappoint. Grab a trail map and head out for some thrilling rides and spectacular scenery. ATVers crisscross the county’s 100+ miles of designated trails. If you’d rather explore by car, head west on Brockway Mountain Drive from Copper Harbor to find thrills of a different kind. As the highest scenic roadway between the Alleghenies and the Rockies, your heart will soar as you take in panoramic views of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Lake Superior’s rocky coast a thousand feet below and spectacular sunsets. In fall nature spatters paint then douses the old growth forests in jewel colors. Drink in the splendor of waterfalls pouring forth along this stunning drive. When it’s time to get wet and wild, divers can explore the numerous shipwrecks of the Keweenaw Underwater Preserve that surrounds the peninsula. Or take an exhilarating paddle along the Keweenaw Water Trail.
Winter is this county’s regal season. One of the snowiest places in the Midwest, this place is considered paradise by snowmobilers, crosscountry skiers and snowshoers. But the real daredevils meet their match at Mt. Bohemia, renowned for its merciless ski slopes.
Isle Royale National Park Photo credit: Vincent Edwards
Meet Mother Nature’s Wild Side
Depart by ferry or seaplane 60 miles across windswept Lake Superior to the unspoiled wilderness of Isle Royale National Park. Formed by the world’s largest lava flow and sculpted by glaciers, this remote archipelago is home to gray wolves, moose and seventeen other mammal species. Explore to your heart’s content and let modern distractions dissolve, giving way to peace and a connection to this ancient wilderness. The island offers countless activities, from camping and hiking to boating and scuba diving among ten distinct shipwrecks. Stargazers will delight in the Aurora Borealis which puts on a dazzling show with colorful bands of purple, green and red. Plan the best viewing times with websites dedicated to chasers of the Northern Lights.
Enjoying Quieter Pursuits
This land of waterfalls and lighthouses also attracts artisans whose galleries spring up in the county’s quaint harbor towns. Some artists create masterpieces for the palate with jars of fresh berry jams, fresh-caught fish and hot-from the-oven pasties prepared throughout the region.
Eagle Harbor Light Photo credit: Sandy Bruce
Rockhounds gather agates strewn along beaches. Birders are never disappointed in the spring and fall when migrating hawks and birds wing over Copper Harbor as they follow centuries-old flight paths between Canada and South America. With so much to do in Keweenaw County, you will need to leave some time to begin planning your return trip!