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Scenic Drives on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

By Paul Vachon, author of Moon Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Locals call Michigan’s Upper Peninsula the world above the bridge. Here you’ll discover miles of freshwater coastline, hundreds of picturesque trails, and countless lakes, rivers, and waterfalls–and best of all, some of the best scenic drives.

Canopy of trees along US-41 near Copper Harbor, Michigan
Copper Harbor. Photo © Jason A. Paul/Dreamstime.

Brockway Mountain Drive

Distance: 9 miles; 0.5 hour
Starting point: M-26 at Silver River Falls
Ending Point: Copper Harbor

Without question the most spectacular drive in Michigan, the high-vista route offers an unmatched view of Copper Harbor and the rolling forests of the Keweenaw. Stop midway to soak in the panorama of Lake Superior.

Marshland Wildlife Drive

Distance: 7 miles; 1 hour
Starting Point: Seney National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
Ending Point: Approximately one mile south of starting point on M-77

The route is short but packed with adventure! This one-way loop allows motorists to see Canada geese, common loons and trumpeter swans—maybe even a deer – as it circles the wildlife refuge.

Cut River Bridge surrounded by the fall foliage along Lake Michigan in Mackinac County in Upper Peninsula Michigan
U.S 2, Cut River Bridge. Photo © Kenneth Keifer/Dreamstime.

U.S. 2

Distance: 88 miles; 1.5 hours
Starting point: St. Ignace
Ending Point: Manistique

This stunning coastal drive hugs the Lake Michigan shoreline and offers a bevy of scenic turnouts and sandy beaches. A small detour takes you to a lighthouse viewpoint.

Curtis Lewis Memorial Highway

Distance: 40 miles; 1 hour
Starting point: M-123, 11 miles south of Paradise
Ending Point: Sault Ste. Marie

Following the curve of Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay, the drive is an attraction in itself, passing through the Hiawatha National Forest and offering views of the lake. Mission Hill Overlook is a worthwhile detour for sweeping views.

Black River pours over Gabbro falls, a wild, beautiful waterfall with two tiers.
Gabbro Falls in Black River National Forest Scenic Byway. Photo © Kenneth Keifer/Dreamstime.

Black River National Forest Scenic Byway

Distance: 15 miles; 0.5 hour
Starting Point: Bessemer
Ending Point: Black River County Park, along Lake Superior

A wooded road that twists in tandem with the Black River, this drive links together noteworthy attractions, including hiking trails to waterfalls, as it makes its way to shores of Lake Superior.

Western Shoreline Drive

Distance: 97 miles; 3 hours
Starting point: Eagle Harbor
Ending Point: Silver City

While only portions of this drive hug the shoreline, the densely wooded route is peaceful and scenic, especially in autumn.


About the Author

Lifelong Michiganian Paul Vachon’s introduction to the Upper Peninsula came as a childhood trip to the fascinating Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie. From that point forward, he developed a love for travel in general, and for Michigan in particular. Over the years, Paul has visited virtually every corner of the Great Lakes State. One of his favorite pastimes is heading “up north” on Interstate 75 to any of a myriad of Michigan destinations. Paul has also traveled extensively both within and outside of the U.S. His international destinations have included the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Guatemala, Denmark, Italy, Israel and Egypt.

Paul began his writing career in 2008 and covers topics as diverse as travel, Detroit history, business, education and green living. He is the author of three books on Detroit area history, Forgotten Detroit, South Oakland County and Legendary Locals of Detroit.

Paul lives with his wife Sheryl and their son Evan in Oak Park, a suburb of Detroit. You can learn more about Paul by visiting his website, www.paulvachonwrites.com.


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