Here are some cool places in Michigan's Upper Peninsula that you might not have known about.
Spring and summer are coming up soon. For many residents of Michigan and surrounding states, that can only mean one thing: an annual camping trip/vacation to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It's a great place to leave the civilized world behind and just get away from it all.
But after a while, you might start to feel like you've seen it all there. There's only so many times you can visit the Porcupine Mountains or drive up to Whitefish Point and Tahquamenon Falls without feeling like you've seen and done it all.
With that in mind, here are five places you might not have heard of that are worth exploring on your next trip up there.
1. Fiborn Quarry and Ghost Town
Just northeast of Rexton is one of the coolest nature preserves in Michigan, because of its incredibly rich history. From 1905 to 1936, a limestone quarry and small town operated in what is now a Karst Preserve.
If you like exploring old ruins, Fiborn has them. There's hiking trails and even caves to be found on the property. This is one of those places I've been to multiple times, but I still haven't seen it all.
The downside? It's a bit tricky to find. From Trout Lake Michigan, take Trout Lake Road west approximately eight miles until you see Fiborn Quarry Road and go north. The preserve is a short ways down this gravel road.
This place may be the best-kept secret in ALL of Michigan, not just the Upper Peninsula. Kitch-iti-kipi, or "The Big Spring" as it is more simply known, is just that, one massively cool natural spring. The spring is a part of the obscurely-known Palm Brooks State Park northwest of Manistique.
This one is definitely for anyone interested in natural wonders or fish lovers. It's a one-of-a-kind experience to take the raft out into the spring where you can get a great look into the crystal-clear waters. Go at the right time of year and you'll be treated to the sight of huge lake trout in the spring. The spring was full of them during my early July visit.
3. Paulding Light
If you're looking for a bit of a mystery, maybe even a ghost mystery to go with your camping trip, the Paulding light might be what you're looking for.
This strange light, which is seen off U.S. Highway 45, has mystified visitors since the 1960s. Ghost? Aliens? Some natural phenomenon? No one knows for certain and that's what makes it part of the fun. The light appears almost every night on Old U.S. 45/ Robbins Pond Road.
4. Fayette State Park
Another place for the history buffs to check out, this obscure state park southwest of Manistique sits on Big Bay De Noc in Lake Michigan. What makes Fayette stand out from other state parks is the collection of historic and re-created buildings on the grounds to explore. It's quite easy to eat up a whole afternoon here before you know it.
Fayette was relatively quiet with few tourists when I visited despite the fact it was July and peak tourist time. This may be due to the fact it's about 18 miles off the beaten path south of U.S. 2. But it's worth the drive down to get a glimpse into the past.
5. Keweenaw Rocket Range
Sometimes, part of the adventure simply getting to a place. That's what a trip to the Keweenaw Rocket Range offers, along with some real isolation and cool history. In a relatively unknown bit of local history, NASA used to launch meteorological satellites from the very tip of the Keewenaw Peninsula in the 1960s and 70s.
There's not much left of the launch site these days, but the views of Lake Superior are also worth it. Make sure to research the route there and back ahead of time, it's not easy to find. It might be worth checking in with locals in Copper Harbor before you set off on a journey to the range just to see what conditions on the roads/two tracks are like before you go.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula is one of the coolest areas to explore in the Midwest. Even when I think I've seen it all, I always seem to find a new cool location each time I visit. Hopefully these locales will give you an idea of some areas to explore next time you're camping or just exploring the area.