Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is one of America’s most secluded and beautiful areas. The forests, lakeshore, rolling hills, and historical sites all offer experiences unique to the area. Camping in the Upper Peninsula, or UP of Michigan is a highlight of the camping we have done through the years. I am beginning to plan a return camping trip with our RV, as it’s been 15 years since we have camped there. If you want to view the stars and enjoy a campfire in solitude, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is ideal for you.
The UP of Michigan sits near Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron. It is a gem in one of the far north areas of the United States. As you drive through this incredible peninsula, embrace the views and experiences that you see along the way. Highway 2, along the southern portion of the peninsula, offers views of Lake Michigan. Several parking areas along the route are RV friendly. Many campsites will welcome you and your RV as you take off to explore the beauty of Northern Michigan. After all, every day is a grand day when you step outside the door of your RV to the incredible UP wilderness.
My family and I were introduced to Houghton, Michigan, 20 years ago and found ourselves returning each summer for the next several years. It is a small town in the Northern tier of the Keweenaw Peninsula. There are several campgrounds in and around Houghton where you can set up your RV and then drive through the area.
Tour the Quincy Mine. If you are curious about what a miner’s life is like, this tour is for you. Guided tours are offered, and it’s the best way to experience the mine. Dress appropriately, as the mine is 43 degrees. You will also want to wear closed-toed shoes.
The A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum of Michigan is home to more than 40,000 mineral specimens that came to fruition in 1838. Minerals from the Great Lakes region and around the world are at home here. The Guinness World Record 19-ton native copper vein is on display in the Copper Pavilion. There is a small fee to visit, and you can easily spend several hours exploring. Most visitors spend two full hours viewing the colorful minerals. Before you head back to your campsite, swing into the local grocery store to load up your camper for your stay in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Eagle River Lighthouse
Everyone loves a lighthouse. Eagle River is home to the Eagle River Lighthouse on the Keweenaw Peninsula. This lighthouse went into operation in 1854 on the south bend of the Eagle River. In 1874, a new lighthouse with a brick tower and a small dwelling was built. The lighthouse was removed from service in 1908, and it is now a private residence. Enjoy the drive in this part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as you will not find views like this anywhere else.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers an incredible view of Lake Superior. Summer is a hectic time, and the best tip I can give you is to start your day early. Alger County Road H-58 is the main road through the national lakeshore, and it can accommodate any size RV. That said, the road is curvy and windy and by no means a high-speed highway. Side roads, such as The Little Beaver Lake Road, are not designed for RV travel. Single units over 36 feet and vehicle/trailer combinations longer than 42 feet are prohibited. Any vehicle that is longer than 32 feet should not go down this secondary road.
All campsites within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are drive-in only and require a reservation. Campgrounds within the national lakeshore have size restrictions within each campground. Understand the length restrictions before you visit and make your reservations. Pets are allowed in the campground and must be on a leash. There are no electric, water, or sewer hookups within the national lakeshore campgrounds. Vault toilets and well water are available for campers to use. Cell phone reception is also poor within this area of the UP of Michigan. If you have a shorter RV and want to go off the grid, this is your place to camp.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Tahquamenon Falls State Park sits near the middle of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, along Lake Superior. The Upper Falls is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. It has a drop of 50 feet, and it is more than 200 feet across. Four miles downstream is the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls. Near 50,000 acres cover more than 13 miles, making this one of the most beautiful parks in the Midwest. A waterfall and one of America’s Great Lakes make this an experience of a lifetime. Pack your sunscreen, bug spray, bottled water, layers of clothing, sunglasses, and a hat for an epic day exploring this state park.
Travelers with smaller RV units can stay at Culhane State Forest Campground, Andrus Lake State Forest Campground, and Bodi Lake State Forest Campground. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis with vault toilets and well water nearby. All campers will need to pay the fees for the campgrounds and the state park’s admission fee. Tahquamenon Falls State Park offers a track chair program, providing accessibility to the nature trails for those who need assistance walking. The track chair is available for your use at the Upper Falls Fact Shack.
Birding In Michigan’s UP
When you camp in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you are in a bird enthusiast’s paradise. Each time you step out of your RV, you have an opportunity to view songbirds, owls, loons, woodpeckers, and sandhill cranes. As you unwind at your campsite after a fun day exploring, sit in the quiet of the wilderness, and listen. The birds will soar overhead, and you may even have a turkey wander into your campsite. Have your binoculars on hand at all times, as you never know what species of birds may pop up in your view.
Whitefish Point is one of the most popular places for birding in the UP. You can see more than 340 species of birds on this point. It’s home to the Whitefish Point Observatory, which has documented the migration of birds since 1979. Geese, ducks, loons, grebes, shorebirds, and raptors reside in this part of Michigan. Owl studies take place here, as well as annual banding of the Northern saw-whet owl. Anyone with an interest in birding will want to visit this observatory. Dress in layers during all times of the year and wear your sunscreen and sunglasses.
Camp In Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
The Porcupine Mountains are near Ontonagon, Michigan. This area in Michigan is home to one of the few remaining large wilderness areas in the Midwest. Stop at the PorcupineMountains Visitor Center and be introduced to the 60,000-acre park. Park employees can answer any questions you may have before you head to your campsite. Presque Isle Rustic Campground and Union Bay Campground offer camping for RV units in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. In Union Bay Campground, you can fall asleep with the sounds of the waves crashing on Lake Superior’s shore. Presque Isle Rustic Campground is a little more shaded and very lush. Reserve your campsite as soon as you know that you want to visit, as these campsites do fill up in the summer.
When morning rolls around, you can start a campfire and enjoy the views of Lake Superior. Dine on bacon and eggs with a view of the lake before you begin to explore Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Clear your campsite before you leave for the day, as you never know when black bears, moose, wolves, or coyotes will show up to visit.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is an incredible place to spend time with your RV. There’s nowhere that I would rather be than camping in Michigan with just a step between me, the outdoors, and a view of one of America’s Great Lakes. Forests, lakes, ponds, waterfalls, cliffs, lighthouses, star gazing, and sunsets are sure to bring a smile to your face. Plan your visit to Northern Michigan for an unforgettable experience with your RV. Summer is the ideal time to visit, while spring and fall bring spectacular bursts of color. If I had the time and the money, I’d camp in the UP of Michigan all three camping seasons of the year. Spring, summer, and fall each have their own nature experiences to share with all of us.
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