The Great Northern Route

At the eastern edge of the vast Ottawa National Forest, Crystal Falls (pop. 1,469) is a charming, postcard kind of place built into a bluff near a rivulet waterfall on the Paint River. Time seems to stand still here, the town sporting original (read: old) street signs still pointing the way, and huge trees overhanging US-2 as it slowly hairpins through town. The only “sights” here are the local courthouse, won in a poker game in the 1880s, and a water-filled old pit mine outside of town.

Southeast from Crystal Falls, US-2 passes numerous rock and ore formations jutting out of the hillsides. The road sweeps into the Copper Country State Forest, which gives every appearance of symmetrical reforestation, then flits through 15 miles of northern Wisconsin before reentering the UP just west of Iron Mountain.