10 Great Places To View Wildlife in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has long been known for its breathtaking beauty and historic sites, and it is also one of the best places in the Midwest to see wildlife. The U.P. includes more than 25% of the land in Michigan but only around 3% of its population. A vast array of forests, mountains, lakes, rivers and streams makes this an ideal habitat for hundreds of animal species, and a small, spread-out population helps make it easy for visitors to see those animals in their natural habitats. We’ve been fortunate over the years to see wolves, coyotes, foxes, black bears, porcupines and many different kinds of birds on our visits up north, so we compiled this list of 10 great places to see wildlife in the Upper Peninsula.
Bewabic State Park – With more than 300 acres of land near Crystal Falls including the beautiful shores of Fortune Lake, Bewabic State Park is a prime spot for wildlife in the Eastern U.P. Birds, including bald eagles, are plentiful and there is always a chance for a rare moose sighting. The park’s more than 2 miles of nature trails make for a good starting point. (720 Idlewild Rd., Crystal Falls, MI)
Craig Lake State Park – It takes more effort to get to Craig Lake State Park than to get to most other parks, but the chance to take in almost 7,000 acres of is worth the drive. With multiple lakes and rugged hiking trails, there are many chances to see moose, bear, beavers and more. (851 County Rd AKE, Champion, MI)
Marquette to Big Bay on CR-550 – This 45-minute, 28-mile drive winds through beautiful country before reaching the Lake Superior shore. Many hiking trails can be found on the drive north, including the popular one leading to Sugarloaf Mountain. Waterfalls are also abundant in this part of Marquette County, and this stretch offers the chance to spot an elusive Michigan moose (we found evidence one had recently been to Alder Falls, shown above, on a June 2014 visit).
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory – To see wildlife of the avian variety, few spots in the north rival Whitefish Point. A prime migration corridor for birds traveling through the Great Lakes, sightings of hawks, owls and many more types of birds are common (and kept track of well). Neighboring points of interest include the Whitefish Point Light Station and Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. (16914 North Whitefish Point Roasd, Paradise, MI)
Tahquamenon Falls State Park – Moose sightings are rare but possible both within state park boundaries here and along the road that leads to it (M-123). Bears and otters can also be seen here, along with woodpeckers and other birds. (41382 W. M-123, Paradise, MI)
Porcupine Mountains State Park – With more than 60,000 acres of wilderness, PMWSP is one of the largest parks of its kind in the Midwest. Black bear sightings are common here, and wolves, coyotes, beavers, porcupines, foxes and other critters make their homes in the forests here. Bald eagle sightings are common along the Lake Superior shore or near Lake of the Clouds. (33303 Headquarters Rd., Ontonagon, MI)
Keweenaw Peninsula – “Copper Country” shares endless lakeshore beauty with visitors, and the high elevations in Keweenaw County make it a prime spot for birdwatching. We’ve also seen bears and wolves here, and smaller mammals and reptiles are plentiful.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – The tall cliffs here are a preferred nesting spot for bald eagles, and many other birds call this area home. Deep forests and close proximity to multiple water sources brings the chance of seeing a black bear, wolves or even the rare moose. Smaller mammals like martens, otters, skunks, beavers and more are also frequently spotted in the park. Good spots to look include the Sand Point Marsh Trail, Miners River and Beach, and the Chapel/Mosquito hiking loop. (H-58 from Munising, MI east to Grand Marais, MI)
Seney National Wildlife Refuge – Visitors have a chance to view wildlife in a protected habitat at Seney NWR, where parts of this 95,000 acre preserve are open to the public. The Marshland Wildlife Loop is a 7-mile scenic drive that offers up chances to see geese, swans, cranes, beavers, eagles, osprey and more while hiking trails offer chances to see even more. Moose and bear sightings are rare but possible, and be sure to stop by the visitor center for up-to-date information. (1674 Refuge Entrance Road, Seney, MI)
Isle Royale National Park – This 200 square mile park can only be reached by boat, and is limited to foot traffic only. It is one of the best bets in the state for moose sightings, and is also home to a small pack of wolves. Foxes, beavers, snowshoe hares, otters and many bird species also make their home here. Boats depart to Isle Royale from Houghton, Copper Harbor, and Grand Portage, MN daily from May-September. (http://www.nps.gov/isro/planyourvisit/hours.htm)