Lake Gogebic State Park — play at the U.P.’s largest inland lake
Lake Gogebic, the Upper Peninsula’s largest inland lake, is on the western end of the state just minutes from the Wisconsin border. Here are some fun facts about this vacation gem:
Over 80 percent of the lake’s 13,380 surface acres is in the nearly million-acre Ottawa National Forest.
The lake straddles two counties and two time zones. The north half of the lake is in Ontonagon County, Bergland Township and the Eastern Time zone. The south half of the lake is in Gogebic County, Marenisco Township and the Central Time zone.
The Bergland Dam, downstream on the Ontonagon River’s West Branch, controls the lake’s water level.
The lake has 36 miles of shoreline, a maximum depth of 38 feet and an average depth of 17.5 feet.
In 1962, two gravesite stones were discovered about 100 feet from the lake’s edge in the state park. “1822 JOHN KEY” is chiseled on one stone and “1824 WHITH” on the other. Historians believe Key arrived on Mackinac Island in 1780 and that he and Whith were fur traders. View the stones when you visit.
Lake Gogebic State Park is on the lake’s west shore in Marenisco Township and is accessible from M-64 between US 2 and M-28. It covers 360 acres and has nearly a mile of lake frontage.
The park is open from May 1 through Oct. 31. Day users are welcome from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (CDT). All visitors will need a Michigan Recreation Passport or a daily pass for day use or camping.
The day-use area has a boat launch, picnic shelter, bathrooms, a metal detecting area, a playground and a swimming beach.
Lake Gogebic is a year-round recreational paradise in the Western U.P.
Wet your line on one of Michigan’s best fishing and ice-fishing lakes.
Spring and summer are favorite times for anglers to take their boats out on the big lake. It’s when walleye, perch, smallmouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass and northern pike bite. Fishing contests throughout the two seasons add to the fun of catching the big ones. When the water hardens in winter, ice anglers reel in some of the best-tasting walleye and jumbo perch.
Check with the local bait shops and fishing guides. They can help you post more catches on your social media. And twice a year, Michigan offers free fishing on a weekend in February and June.
Boating, paddling and water sports reign supreme from spring through fall.
When you can boast being the biggest lake in the U.P., you also have bragging rights for more water fun. The state park has a paved launch that makes it easy to get your fishing boat, speedboat, pontoon, kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard or personal watercraft out on the lake. Waterskiing, wakeboarding and tubing are popular summer pastimes. No watercraft? The state park rents kayaks and canoes.
Swimming is refreshing for all ages.
Lake Gogebic State Park and Lake Gogebic County Park offer some of the most tranquil beaches in the U.P. Swim and play for hours in the summer. Or walk the state park’s mile-long shoreline from spring through fall, early morning until starry night.
Hunt for treasure in designated metal detecting areas.
There is a special area in the park where you may use a metal detector to find coins, jewelry and other metallic treasures. Park staff will review your findings before you take them from the park. This activity is open to registered campers only.
Hike scenic wilderness trails in the Ottawa National Forest.
The state park has a trailhead to the Lake Gogebic Forest Trail, a 2-mile pathway through the Western U.P.’s backcountry. It’s a top choice for bird spotting and photographing ferns and fungi. There are also 196 miles of trails crisscrossing the Ottawa National Forest. Choose from short day hikes or longer backpacking treks to waterfalls, historic places and scenic sites.
Take your mountain biking to new heights.
Nearby Copper Peak offers cross-country mountain biking experiences for all levels. Not a “technical” trail system, it offers an exciting 600 feet of elevation over the 5.5-mile trail system. The ride starts at the base of the ski jump landing hill and descends to the Black River. Then it’s a twist-and-turn ride on a 600-vertical ascent to the ski jump followed by an exhilarating return ride down to the landing hill base.
Experience the thrill of ORV and ATV riding.
The Ottawa National Forest is a popular destination for off-roading. It has over 2,300 miles of Forest Service roads and trails open to off-highway vehicles (OHVs). Get a free Motor Vehicle Use Map to see what routes are open to OHVs and rev those engines!
Let it snow! Some of the U.P.’s best snowmobiling and winter sports are here!
Lake Gogebic is world-renowned for its 150 miles of snowmobiling trails. Sledders repeatedly vote this one of the best areas to ride their machines. Record snowfalls bring in cross-country skiers, snowshoers and fat tire bike outdoor enthusiasts.
For an out-of-the-ordinary experience, celebrate the start of the New Year twice in one night! Start your celebration on the north side of the lake in Bergland, toasting the New Year at midnight Eastern Time. Then ride your snowmobile across Lake Gogebic to Marenisco on the south side, and shout Happy New Year a second time an hour later at midnight in Central Time.
Besides all the outdoor adventures you can do while staying at Lake Gogebic State Park or nearby lodgings, this is a perfect basecamp for taking day jaunts to popular Western U.P. attractions.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park | Ontonagon
Michigan’s largest state park is only 30 minutes from Lake Gogebic State Park. It packs four seasons with hiking, mountain biking, waterfalling, Lake Superior beach time and copper mining historic sites. See for miles from the Copper Peak Ski Jump and Lake of the Clouds overlooks. In the autumn, follow some of the United States’ best fall color tour routes. Come in winter for thrilling downhill skiing and picturesque cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Black River National Forest Scenic Byway | Bessemer to Black River Harbor, Lake Superior
This scenic river drive lets you stop and hike to see five of the U.P.’s most beautiful waterfalls. Visit the Great Conglomerate Falls, Potawatomi, Gorge, Sandstone, and Rainbow Falls. Continue to the end of the byway and take in the incredible beauty of Lake Superior at Black River Harbor. Walk across the suspension bridge to the beach where you can collect rocks, swim and watch the sunset and stars fill the sky. You will be back at Lake Gogebic in less than an hour.
Old Victoria Copper Mine | US 45, Rockland
This is one of the most exciting restoration projects in the U.P. In 1849, miners began pouring into the region, setting up camps such as Victoria almost overnight. They came to find their fortunes extracting silver and copper from the surrounding hills.
Old Victoria is near where the famous Ontonagon Boulder (now in the possession of the Smithsonian Institute) was found. Open to the public, visitors can see the log homes and touch the 1800s artifacts on display. They can search through a mountainous rock heap for pieces of copper to bring home. Walk across the battlefield where the Sioux and Ojibway fought, and climb Mt. Lookout to see the highest hydroelectric dam in the Midwest. You can reach the site from Lake Gogebic in less than 45 minutes.
Bond Falls Scenic Site | Bruce Crossing
It takes about a half hour from Lake Gogebic to reach one of the most stunning, frequently photographed waterfalls. Bond Falls is 100 feet wide with a total 50-foot drop. The observation deck and boardwalk are wheelchair and mobility device accessible. Come hear the water roar.
Copper Peak Ski Jump | Ironwood
For the adventure and view of a lifetime, take the 40-minute drive from Lake Gogebic to Copper Peak Ski Jump. The thrill begins with an 800-foot chairlift ride to the crest of the hill — a 360-foot copper-bearing volcanic outcrop. Next, ride an elevator up 18 stories to the observation deck, and, if you are truly fearless, you can walk an additional 8 stories to the top of the ski jump’s starting gate. Your reward on a clear day is the most-incredible vista in the Midwest! Gaze out over 2,500 square miles, seeing three states and Canada.
What sets Lake Gogebic State Park apart from other parks in the Upper Peninsula is that about a quarter of the 127 campsites are located directly on the lakefront! Its remaining sites nestle among the trees, no more than 100 yards from the lake. Three sites are pull-through. Amenities include two toilet/shower buildings.
You can make camping reservations up to six months ahead. Leashed pets are welcome. Make your reservation today.
Hotels and resorts
Want to spend time at Lake Gogebic and the state park, but prefer the overnight amenities and comforts of a hotel or resort? You will find lodgings on Lake Gogebic near hiking and snowmobile trails and close to restaurants and gas stations. Their staff will warmly welcome you and your traveling companions. Book your stay.