Upper Peninsula Journals

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

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A July 2007 trip to Upper Peninsula by callen60

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore  Photo, Munising, Michigan More Photos
Quote: Northern Michigan gem on Superior’s southern shore. Visits here make me think about what we set aside, and why, and whether it will ‘stick’.

Introduction

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

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Story/Tip

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore  Photo, Munising, Michigan
Quote:
This is one of my favorite places on earth. I first came here for two summers as a young teen camper in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: known to ‘flatlanders’ (one of the kinder monikers for lower peninsula denizens) as the UP, and to natives as ‘da UP’. The camp was on a small lake in the Hiawatha National Forest, between Manistique and Munising, about halfway between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. From this base, we traveled all over the UP, and I fell in love with its landscape, remote location, and 1950’s feel. During a visit last summer, it still seemed like a step back in time, although I saw small but disturbing signs that, 10 years into the new millennium, the 20th century is finally and fully a...Read More

To do

Pictured Rocks Cruises

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Attraction | "A UP Must-see"

Approaching the Rocks Photo, Munising, Michigan
Quote:
This trip is one of the UP’s highlights, a seemingly unchanging experience that combines a natural highlight and a long-time family tradition. The Pictured Rocks begin northeast of Munising, a small town that sits at the bottom of Lake Superior’s most southern reach, on a nearly rectangular bay that runs northeast for two miles. It was a major center for shipping the UP’s timber south over the remaining four great lakes, and after the trees were nearly 100% removed, has shipped sightseers north along the colored coast since a returning World War II vet began the trips in 1948.The Pictured Rocks begin at the northeast edge of Munising Bay, and then slant to the northeast for 15 miles. Like...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 14, 2008

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

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Attraction | "Only Access to Beautiful Bluffs"

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore  Photo, Munising, Michigan
Quote:
This is probably the most visited site in the National Lakeshore, and with good reason. It’s not far from Munising, and thus in the most easily accessed part of the Lakeshore. Plus, it’s the only site where you can reach the Pictured Rocks by car, and it’s the most famous formation on the bluffs. I’ve seen postcards of Miners Castle from the 1940’s, done in that odd, iconic Currier-and-Ives-like engraving style. That predates the lakeshore by 30 years, when Miners Castle was contained in a small park, administered by Alger County as the state dithered about establishing its own park in the area. In that time, and until late in the 20th century, visitors could walk out on to the castle itse...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 16, 2008

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
P.O. Box 40
Munising 49862
(906) 387-3700

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

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Attraction | "Sand Dunes and Waterfalls: Next-door Neighbors?"

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore  Photo, Munising, Michigan
Quote:
With the exception of Tahquamenon, nature rarely goes for the grand, Niagara-like gesture in the UP’s 300 waterfalls. 75-foot high Sable Falls are larger than most, and could be heard be softly heard through the quiet woods as I approached during the hike from the parking area. It was a late August afternoon, and I’d checked my family into the Arborgate Motel a mile away in Grand Marais, where the kids were watching satellite TV and my wife was ‘resting her eyes’.No one wanted to join me for a little more exploring, but I was OK heading off either alone or with company. The parking lot held room for dozens of cars, but only three or four were there. I had this area completely to myself dur...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 14, 2008

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
P.O. Box 40
Munising 49862
(906) 387-3700

Resource

Your Friendly UP Guides

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Story/Tip

Quote:
There are no better guides to the UP than Mary and Don Hunt. These lowlanders from Ann Arbor have spent a lifetime exploring Michigan’s northern reaches, and have shared their knowledge and their finds in a comprehensive book, a website, and a handy laminated map/guide of the UP. I discovered their book 10 years ago, just before heading off on a five-day trip across the UP with my wife, my first return to many of my favorite haunts since I was in high school. The Hunts have found every great diner, every gem of a motel, every historic site, and many hidden secrets and attractions that, without their help, you’d miss. Thanks to them, we found an installation celebrating one of many now-vanished CCC cam...Read More

Dining

Lake Superior Brewing Company

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Restaurant | "The Place to Be in Grand Marais"

Quote:
Eating options in Grand Marais seem even more constrained than lodging options. Of course, that’s to be expected in a town of 350. My favorite UP guides, the Hunts, recommended two places: the West Bay Diner and the Lake Superior Brewing Company.We picked the latter for dinner, and weren’t disappointed. It’s a ramshackle building that stretches back off its original street entrance through two or more additions. In fact, it looks like two establishments from the outside, but it’s only one, and can only be entered from the front. The first room is full of original woodwork and an impressive bar. Equally impressive was the crowd gathered there: it was no wonder the streets were empty. ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 14, 2008

Lake Superior Brewing Company
N14283 Lake Ave.
Grand Marais 49839
(906) 494-2337

West Bay Diner & Delicatessen

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Restaurant | "Great Reputation, So-So Service"

Quote:
I love diners. Growing up in Michigan, they were part of an America I’d read about, but never got to experience. Eggs & hashbrowns, pie, a cheeseburger, and fries, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy: I think they all taste better in a diner, preferably with a cup of joe or a vanilla coke. They were a staple in northeast Philly, and I ventured out from my Center City habits now and then during my time in grad school.For a town of 350, Grand Marais has a surprising number of attractions. In addition to the natural setting and the National Lakeshore, there’s a maritime museum, the world’s only Pickle Barrel home (now a museum), a number of arts and crafts options (largely based aroun...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 14, 2008

West Bay Diner & Delicatessen
28125 Veterans Avenue
Grand Marais 49839
(906) 494-2607

Lodging

Sunset Motel on the Bay

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Hotel | "Gorgeous Bayside Setting"

Sunset Motel on the Bay Photo, Munising, Michigan
Quote:
One of the things that distinguishes the UP from nearly all other vacation areas is the virtually complete absence of national lodging chains. Unless you’re at St. Ignace, preparing to board a Mackinac Island ferry, in Marquette (whose sub-30,000 population makes it the UP’s largest ‘city’), Munising or a handful of other towns, you’re not likely to see the familiar branding of the nation’s top hoteliers. Better yet, you’ll have plentiful and better options no matter where you are.The UP is home to a thriving, long-standing family-run hotel ‘industry’, and the ubiquitous pine paneling of these establishments shaped my earliest childhood memories of what it meant to be ‘up north’ and ‘on va...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 14, 2008

Sunset Motel on the Bay
1315 Bay St.
Munising 49862
(906)-387-4574

Beach Park Motel

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Hotel | "Low Budget, High Quality, Big View"

Room at Beach Park Motel Photo, Grand Marais, Michigan
Quote:
Chain motel options may be scarce across the UP, but they’re non-existent in Grand Marais. The half a dozen motels in this small town are all family-owned, and all apparently good places to stay. We picked what was then known as the Arborgate Motel, and took advantage of the low rates ($70 then, now apparently $65 a night) to book a separate kids room in this virtually-on-the-waterfront motel.Grand Marais clusters around its marvelous harbor and beautiful sand beach. It’s the only natural shelter along a 75-mile stretch of Superior’s shoreline, and its Coast Guard station is the site of the last contact with the doomed Edmund Fitzgerald before the waves closed over it in 1975....Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 14, 2008

Exploring

Quote:
After finally ending our experience at the West Bay Diner, we returned to the Grand Sable Visitor Center, which had closed early the day before. As we drove along, it quickly became apparent that another beautiful day was emerging, despite the early clouds and light mist that never quite turned into rain. Another Junior Ranger badge safely in hand, we drove to the edge of Grand Sable Lake, and wandered down the boat ramp. Birch trees, another ubiquitous northern Michigan resident, lined the approach to the lake, and my wife and enjoyed them while the kids briefly splashed around among the dunes. Our days big destination was Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan’s first state park, with a waterfall e...Read More

Reflection

The Politics of Dunes and Trees

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Story/Tip

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore  Photo, Munising, Michigan
Quote:
My wife grew up spending summers on the Lake Michigan shore, a place I’ve come to treasure as much as she does. In those first years in the late 1960’s, her family and their neighbors would spend days pulling up the dune grass that seemed to mar their vision of long, white sand beaches. Besides, its edges were rough, and would cut your feet if you brushed across it at the right angle.If they thought about it all, they might have assumed that this one small change would lead to no others. It was a small version of the hubris that human beings constantly exhibit when we encounter the natural world: the idea that we can sculpt our surroundings to emphasize only those narrow aspects our curren...Read More