Sandwiched between three great lakes is the fishing, hiking, and paddling of Michigan’s wild country.
In Michigan, the Upper Peninsula (UP) is highly valued for outdoor fun. The geographical position is ideal, with Lake Huron, Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan providing endless miles of shoreline with dense forests between them. Extending west to Wisconsin and north to both the water and the Canadian border, the region puts campers in close proximity to great backroads, abundant campgrounds, charming towns like Marquette, and enough recreational opportunities to keep you busy for a lifetime. If you're planning an Upper Peninsula camping trip, expect a combination of water and woods with unique topography, stunning lighthouses, and the distinct feeling of going back in time.
UP paddling options are limitless with three great lakes bordering the peninsula. Turquoise waters will have you feeling like you’re on a Caribbean island, but the cold, freshwater will say otherwise. Kayak and canoe launch sites are plentiful—navigate cliff sides with waterfalls and paddle alongside waterfowl and loons watching from the shore. Some shore areas are private, but simply pull up a map to see state parks, recreation areas, and public sites for paddling launches and landings.
White, sandy beaches are the highlight of summer for most campers on the Upper Peninsula. Many extend for miles with great public access, but you can also head north to the shores of Lake Superior, where the 12-mile Great Sand Bay Beach sits off the beaten path with trails, sandy shorelines, and gorgeous waters. If you want plenty of space and nice, soft sand, Sand Point Beach is also worth considering.
While the abundance of water is a major draw, the interior peninsula areas are also ripe with opportunity. Hit the Porcupine Mountains for a slew of trails, many of which are connected and prime for creative route planning to loop back to your vehicle or pass through to different areas. The Escarpment Trail is perfect for a half-day hike, while the Eben Ice Caves are a quick two miles in to leave you time to check out the caves.
The northernmost section of the UP holds some of its greatest treasures. The Keweenaw Peninsula’s aforementioned Great Gray Sand Beach is a fun place to visit, Brockway Mountain is a great hike, and the Keweenaw Water Trail offers a 100-mile loop of the entire peninsula (technically an island). Visit Copper Harbor to drive around and take in the natural beauty of area state parks and lighthouses.
Summer and fall are the prime visiting seasons on the Upper Peninsula. Fishing, boating, and beachcombing are all excellent during these seasons, when crowds are larger but there is plenty of space. Even during high season, it’s likely possible to find RV campsites, tent camping, and room to roam on the waterfront. Although the water is a bit chilly for swimming, fall is especially nice as the colors change and the busy summer tourism season winds down. Meanwhile, winters are long and quiet on the Upper Peninsula. Experienced cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and snowsport enthusiasts may love the empty off-season, when waters are ice cold, beaches are closed, and trails may be difficult to access.