Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Michigan's Upper Peninsula: Yooper Beauty

We added a new state to RVentures when we crossed the border from Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan. The inhabitants of the UP, many who descend from the hard-working Finnish ore miners and loggers, fondly refer to themselves as "Yoopers". 

Doug remembers well the tough winters in this area when he studied at Michigan Technological University. It was not uncommon for 200+ inches of snow to blanket the area. Thus the Yoopers have developed a tolerance for the UP weather,

as well as a culture and humor that is very unique.

When the 200+ inches of snow melts (usually by the end of May), the glistening blue hues of the Great Lakes of Michigan, Superior and Huron luer many up to the UP. During our recent visit to Gladstone and Marquette, Michigan, we too were mesmerized not only with the Yooper humor but also with the Yooper beauty that fills the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.


Lighthouse lovers will jump with Yooper joy over the vast amount of lighthouses that adorn the rugged lakeshores. Peninsula Point Lighthouse on the tip of Little Bay de Noc reflected the historical value of these beacons of light ... 

... as well as the natural value. Thousands of monarch butterflies gather in this area during late summer to get their fill of the abundant milkweed as they prepare for their southern migration.

The Gladstone Lighthouse adds a beautiful silhouette to the evening sunset ... 

... while the lighthouse at the entrance of Marquette Harbor still guides the incoming sea vessels.


One only has to travel down any of the narrow roads of the UP to find hidden gems of Yooper history. Fayette Historic State Park, located on the lower end of Big Bay de Noc, reveals the remnants of a bustling community that manufactured charcoal pig ore between 1867 and 1891.

The limestone cliffs that line Fayette harbor ...

led to the prominent blast furnaces in the center of the once bustling industrial town.

Refurbished structures from the grand home of Fayette's operating supervisor ...

to the community buildings and houses of the common worker

provided insight into the everyday lives of immigrant workers and their families as they faced challenging work conditions as well as harsh weather conditions.


With the majority of Michigan surrounded by the Great Lakes, its majestic shores creates a beauty that any Yooper can be proud of.

Of course, the Grand Champion of shoreline has to be the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the northern border of the UP. Sandstone cliffs of tan, brown, white, orange and green rise above the pristine blue waters of Lake Superior. There are several ways to admire the Pictured Rocks: boat cruises, kayaking and hiking. 

We resisted the temptation to go the true Yooper route, and decided to see it from above as we hiked two different sections of the park.

Our first hike was a three mile out and back from Miners Beach to Mosquito Beach. The blustery winds off the lake made me glad that I didn't let Doug talk me into kayaking. 

We followed the path through the forest,

stopping quite often to admire unique fungus growths, 

spectacular lookouts,

and sandy beaches better left for a much warmer day!

Our second hike was a much more ambitious ten mile loop that covered the most picturesque portion of the shoreline from Mosquito Beach to Chapel Rock. The calm winds and abundant sunshine brought out the hue of magnificent colors that give these "Pictured Rocks" their name.

From lunch in the shadow of Chapel Rock,

to agate hunting along the beach (and taking only pictures),

to "you better not get too close to the edge" moments,

we were happy that we took the time and effort to explore the Pictured Rocks from the trails above.


The waterfalls of the UP are a sign of the power of water at work. Mosquito Falls and Miners Falls were two of the many waterfalls that sang to us as their waters plunged towards Lake Superior.


Yes, the true Yooper beauty is found just about everywhere you look. Miles upon miles of hiking trails through serene forests provide shade,

give you a colorful display of wildflowers,

and allow you to pass by deer who are more interested in the tasty foliage than in you.

It is no mystery ...

... why I love all the Yooper fun and beauty that my hiking partner shows me.

Until next time ... kiss a Yooper or a Yooper wanna-be ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

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