The Great Northern Route

The route that US-2 follows along Lake Michigan between Escanaba and St. Ignace is one of the UP’s best autumn scenic drives. The true heart of the UP lies here, with patches of pine or birch woodland followed by brief lakeshore, then a dormant ore mine, a trailer park, or a long-abandoned fishing camp. The only sizable town between St. Ignace and Escanaba, Manistique (pop. 3,097) tends to underwhelm, apart from its Lake Michigan frontage. Mountains of gravel and mini smokestacks line the road into town on the east side, and the sweetly pungent smell of paper permeates the air.

Driving between Manistique and St. Ignace, the scenery becomes increasingly gorgeous. Bay views give way only occasionally to small towns or groves of trees, but most of the way the lake breaks through fully as US-2 skims along a beachside causeway bordered by huge sand dunes with green tufts of mixed grasses.