Finding Michigan’s wild side: a journey through the Upper Peninsula

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Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Discovering Michigan’s untamed side: an expedition through the Upper Peninsula

While Lake Superior may not be an ocean, its unpredictable weather and ever-changing nature make it behave like one. The awe-inspiring experience it offers to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is akin to what one would find on the coasts. I find myself at Black Rocks, an ancient rocky slab perched above Marquette’s shoreline in Michigan. It provides an excellent vantage point to witness the power of “Mother Superior,” as the locals affectionately call the lake. Standing on a narrow ledge, I’m astonished as a massive wave surges above my head, challenging my preconceived notions about lakes.

Previously, I had perceived the Midwest as a more subdued and uneventful part of the country. However, visiting the Upper Peninsula, I am determined to debunk my assumptions and spend a week immersing myself in the local culture, learning about everything from the term “Yooper” to the various ways of enjoying whitefish. Imagine Michigan’s mitten being tugged by Canada, and that’s where I find myself—Marquette.

Marquette welcomes me with its charming main street adorned with vintage signs, historic architecture, and classic window displays. It’s a place where the past is cherished, evident in the towering historic ore dock—a relic of its once-thriving iron ore trade. Unlike some industrial towns that lose their identity in modern revitalization, Marquette has preserved its heritage while embracing a community of artists, restaurateurs, and shop owners who support and celebrate each other.

As I journey further north to Copper Harbor, the wilderness grows more profound, and the drive becomes a delightful distraction with stops like the Jampot, a bakery run by Catholic monks. Copper Harbor offers some of the world’s best mountain biking trails, where I discover the thrill of being in control of a roller-coaster-like ride. The allure of Lake Superior remains, and I get a closer look by kayaking through archways of colorful rock and exploring hidden coves.

Venturing into Isle Royale National Park by seaplane, I find myself in a place untouched by cars and roads, a true wilderness. The islands offer a chance to reconnect with nature, encounter moose, wolves, and other wildlife. Meeting Rolf Peterson, who has spent over five decades studying the wolf and moose populations, I am humbled by the dedication to understanding the rhythms of nature when human influence is minimized.

This journey to the Upper Peninsula has shattered the notion of it being tame. From the vibrant colors of the northern lights dancing over the crashing waves to monks baking pastries in remote places, the region embodies the untamed spirit of Michigan’s wild side.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Q: What is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan known for?

A: The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is known for its untamed beauty, with highlights including the powerful Lake Superior, ancient rock formations at Black Rocks in Marquette, and the wilderness of Isle Royale National Park.

Q: How is the town of Marquette unique?

A: Marquette stands out with its well-preserved history, vintage charm, and a community of artists, restaurateurs, and shop owners who support and uplift each other.

Q: What activities can be enjoyed in Copper Harbor?

A: Copper Harbor offers some of the world’s best mountain biking trails and opportunities for sea kayaking, providing a chance to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the beauty of Lake Superior.

Q: What makes Isle Royale National Park special?

A: Isle Royale National Park is a remote and pristine wilderness, accessible only by sea or plane. It has no cars or roads, providing a unique experience for backpackers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Q: What is the significance of the International Dark Sky Park certification for Keweenaw Mountain Lodge?

A: Keweenaw Mountain Lodge’s International Dark Sky Park certification means it offers exceptional opportunities for stargazing and witnessing natural phenomena like the northern lights.

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