10 Amazing Upper Peninsula State Parks
JW Wells State Park – Featuring a beautiful, sandy beach on Green Bay and 150 campsites, J.W. Wells State Park deserves to be one of the prime summer destinations in the southwestern U.P. Campsites are spacious and many offer water views, while the bathroom and shower facilities are among the nicest in the state. In addition, a handicap accessible playground will help entertain young campers. Basketball, volleyball, swimming, hiking are all featured at the day use area, which also has a picnic pavilion.
Brimley State Park – Located within an hour’s drive of the Mackinac Bridge, Brimley State Park makes a great stop on any trip to the Eastern U.P. The modern conveniences of Sault Ste. Marie may be less than a half hour away, but here the focus is on a sandy beach on Lake Superior and more than 230 campsites. Watch for splendid sunsets as well as freighters as they make their approach to the Soo Locks. Tahquamenon Falls and Whitefish Point are within an hour’s drive west.
Straits State Park – One of the busiest parks north of the Mackinac Bridge, Straits offers fantastic views of the bridge and more than 250 campsites. The state park also manages the Father Marquette National Memorial site located nearby.
Bewabic State Park – Fishing, boating, hiking and swimming are among the day use activities that bring visitors to Bewabic State Park. There are more than 130 campsites and numerous buildings built by the CCC, as well as the only tennis court in a Michigan state park. The scenery on and around Fortune Lake makes for an amazing visit away from city life.
Fort Wilkins State Park – Any visit to Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula should also include a visit to Fort Wilkins State Park, a well-preserved site that was an active Army post in the 1800s. There are more than 150 campsites, numerous recreational opportunities near Lake Fanny Hooe, and the Copper Harbor Lighthouse complex. Tours to the lighthouse depart daily from the local marina for a small fee.
Palms Book State Park – There are no campsites at Palms Book State Park, but the “big spring” Kitch-iti-kipi alone makes the visit worthwhile. Visitors can view the largest spring in the state while on a self-propelled viewing platform, and a picnic area provides a great place to stop and rest. Indian Lake State Park is a short drive from here, and features more than 200 campgrounds in two units.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – The largest state park in the Upper Peninsula has something for everyone. Those looking to “rough it” can find countless rustic campsites, hikers will be amazed by 90 miles of trails and Lake of the Clouds will thrill visitors with its stunning views. The waterfalls of the Presque Isle River are found near the western park boundary, where there is also a rustic campground. A visitor center, Lake Superior beach, and the Union Mine trail and historic site are found on the eastern end of the park.
Mackinac Island State Park – No cars are allowed on Mackinac Island, which has helped make it a favorite tourist destination for decades. Natural wonders like Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf and Devil’s Kitchen can be reached by hiking or bicycling, while the downtown area features many historic sites. Historic Fort Mackinac is a great stop just outside of the downtown area (entrance fee), while Fort Holmes provides great views from the high ground on the island’s northeast side.
Fayette Historic State Park – It might take a little bit of a drive off the main road to get to Fayette, but it is well worth the trip. This incredibly well-preserved former iron manufacturing town has something for everyone and should not be missed when visiting the Eastern U.P. Stunning limestone cliffs, dozens of historic buildings and miles of hiking trails have kept visitors coming back for years. There are also more than 60 semi-modern campsites and a visitor center and gift shop.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park – One of the crown jewels of the Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon Falls draws scores of visitors each year who want to catch a glimpse of one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. The Upper Falls drop 50 feet in a stunning forested setting, while the Lower Falls area features multiple drops and even the opportunity to rent a rowboat to visit the island in the middle of the river for a better view. There are more than 270 campsites spread out in three areas, more than 30 miles of hiking trails and a restaurant/brewpub at the Upper Falls.