By Mitch Lex
Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula shoreline was recently highlighted in National Geographic’s 500 Drives of a Lifetime book as one of the premier destinations for scenic areas that can be enjoyed on long stretches of paved roads. The majority of the routes along this path are set right on breathtaking Lake Superior Shoreline, letting you take in the vastness and supremacy of the lake on these quiet roads.
The route begins in the town of Marquette, the largest city in the Upper Peninsula. Here visitors can take in the cities coastal culture by visiting the Marquette Maritime Museum, or tour the nearby Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. The Maritime Museum houses a large collection of artifacts showcasing Marquette’s unique maritime history. The Harbor Light was constructed in 1866 and is still used today to aid in navigation.
Travelers get a different view of the Upper Peninsula’s boating past when they arrive in Munising. Visitors can get a first-hand look at some of the many shipwrecks that have occurred in the area, such as the Bermuda, a 150 foot vessel that saw its final days near the shores of Munising in 1870. A relic of the fur-trading days of the Hudson Bay Company, the nearly untouched Grand Island is also a special nearby attraction.
Outdoor enthusiasts will be captivated by Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, just east of Munising. Sandy golden beaches, majestic blue waters and the steep cliff shorelines draw kayakers, hikers and wildlife observers to its exceptional beauty. Historic lighthouses, rolling sand dunes and several waterfalls are just a few of the highlights that make Pictured Rocks one of the highlights of the Superior shoreline.
Just east of Pictured Rocks in Munising lies MNA’s own piece of natural beauty. Although small in size at only 15 acres, visitors to Twin Waterfalls Nature Sanctuary are welcomed by two breathtaking waterfalls, where they can hike behind the cascades and marvel at the ancient sandstone cliffs surrounding them. An abundance of unique plant species are also found throughout the sanctuary.
Road-trippers conclude their tour of the Upper Peninsula shoreline at Whitefish Point, where the infamous Edmund Fitzgerald was headed on the eve of its sinking in 1975. The museum and lighthouse still in operation recognize the Edmund Fitzgerald and several other Superior shipwrecks.