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Old 09-16-2019, 08:25 PM   #1
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Lake Michigan, Upper Peninsula trip advice

We are beginning to put together our summer trip for 2020 to see the Great Lakes specifically Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. We might be able to do a side trip to see Lake Superior. We are a family of 4, two girls 17 and 12 with a travel trailer. We’ve already done the end to end along the east coast (Bar Harbor to Disney in 2017 and 2018).

I’m planning for two weeks for this trip coming from eastern Pennsylvania.

Day 1 drive mid way up Michigan staying around Ann Arbor (thinking 10 hours in the car). Day 2 drive the rest of the way to Manistique staying at Manistique Lakeshores Campground (6-7 hour drive) for 4 nights. I know there is probably better located campgrounds in the UP but we like the look of this one plus it’s along the water. Visit Pictured Rocks, Tahquemenon Falls, Oswald’s Bear Ranch, Kitchen iti Kipi.

Day 6 drive to Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping for 5 nights. Planning a day or two on Mackinaw Island, Soo Locks, tunnel of trees, Point Lighthouse, and other local attractions. Looks like a nice campground.

Day 11, On our return trip planning a stop in Elkhart to do a rv tour and see the rv museum. Rv tour is at 2:00, is it doable to leave Mackinaw and arrive in Elkhart by 2:00? I wouldn’t expect much traffic in this area. 5-6 hour drive. If I can do the tour the same day as the drive from Mackinaw I could gain a day in either Manistique or Mackinaw.

Day 12 drive to Cedar Point, OH and camp at their campground Lighthouse Point. Spend day 13 at amusement park. Drive home on day 14.

Anything I should consider that I didn’t think of? Thoughts on itinerary?
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Old 09-16-2019, 08:37 PM   #2
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Also thinking about skipping Manistique and use Mackinaw as the hub for all sites. Thoughts?
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:39 PM   #3
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I'm actually in the UP right now. My opinion your going to spend to much time driving to see the area sights. We are at Manising for 4 days then 4 days at Tahquamenon falls. Gives us more time to explore each area and less time traveling to them. We came up from central Iowa using Wisconsin Dell's as mid-point lay over.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:04 AM   #4
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I camp in the UP regularly. I can recommend two incredible campgrounds. Big Knob State Park on the Lake Michigan side. Beautiful beach and hardly anyone there regardless of time of year. Centrally located so you can visit Tahqomnon and Kitchitikipi. Then a must for me is Lake Superior State Forest campground. Right on Lake Superior. Just outside of a great little town Grand Marais from there you can hit Oswald’s, Pictured rocks and canoe down the Two Hearted river. Lake Superior always fills up so get there at 10a and wait on a Monday. Both campgrounds are rustic. Enjoy!
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Old 09-17-2019, 05:01 AM   #5
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I'm actually in the UP right now. My opinion your going to spend to much time driving to see the area sights. We are at Manising for 4 days then 4 days at Tahquamenon falls. Gives us more time to explore each area and less time traveling to them. We came up from central Iowa using Wisconsin Dell's as mid-point lay over.


Thanks. Yeah I was concerned about that too. Trying to fit in as much as I can.
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Old 09-17-2019, 05:03 AM   #6
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I camp in the UP regularly. I can recommend two incredible campgrounds. Big Knob State Park on the Lake Michigan side. Beautiful beach and hardly anyone there regardless of time of year. Centrally located so you can visit Tahqomnon and Kitchitikipi. Then a must for me is Lake Superior State Forest campground. Right on Lake Superior. Just outside of a great little town Grand Marais from there you can hit Oswald’s, Pictured rocks and canoe down the Two Hearted river. Lake Superior always fills up so get there at 10a and wait on a Monday. Both campgrounds are rustic. Enjoy!


I should have mentioned that we are only looking at full hookup campgrounds. These look nice too.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:40 AM   #7
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My only comment would be to go after the big early season mosquito hatches, particularly Tequaminon Falls State Park. They are legendary.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:42 AM   #8
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My only comment would be to go after the big early season mosquito hatches, particularly Tequaminon Falls State Park. They are legendary.


We were thinking mid to end of June. When is the big early season?
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:48 AM   #9
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We were thinking mid to end of June. When is the big early season?
End of June might save you some blood and grief, but it always depends on spring rains and standing water. Mid June two years ago was ridiculously bad. The concession at the falls even had thousands inside the park store. The girl on the cash register had an electric swatter in one hand while she worked the sales counter. I used to live in the UP so I'm not easily discouraged, either.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:57 AM   #10
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Yikes. How is the north end of the lower peninsula? Mackinaw City area?
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:05 AM   #11
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Yikes. How is the north end of the lower peninsula? Mackinaw City area?
Typically better. The UP is magical so please don't let me discourage you, but with younger daughters you'd be in dangerous territory, fatherwise, if you know what I mean.
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:09 AM   #12
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Thanks for the insight
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:35 AM   #13
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Mid June you are at the beginning of season. I always found that July is the month to avoid. Black flies and mosquitoes are pretty bad. Muskellunge park near Lake Superior would be an option with hookup.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:12 AM   #14
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Spending that much time in Michigan you need to spend a few days in the Traverse City area. There is some much to do there. just spent 6 weeks up there.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:12 AM   #15
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We were in the UP over the 4th of July. Your trip sounds great but like Theb2b said, you are gonna do a lot of driving.

Since you are planning 9 nights in the UP/Northern MI I would suggest adding one more campground and staying three nights each. You can space things out better and spend more time at the sights of interest as opposed to time driving to and from.
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:19 PM   #16
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Spending that much time in Michigan you need to spend a few days in the Traverse City area. There is some much to do there. just spent 6 weeks up there.


Traverse City looks nice and close to Sleeping Bear Dunes. It’s a big geography so won’t be able to see everything.

Also looking at Silver Lake Sand Dunes area ( I could maybe make it here on day 1, it would be a long haul).
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:55 PM   #17
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Traverse City looks nice and close to Sleeping Bear Dunes. It’s a big geography so won’t be able to see everything.

Also looking at Silver Lake Sand Dunes area ( I could maybe make it here on day 1, it would be a long haul).
The Silver Lake dunes are worth the visit, and there are campgrounds galore in the area. Charles Mears State Park just up the road in Pentwater is a great place, as well. There's a really cool little Fair Trade store in downtown Pentwater, too. Did I mention that my wife and I own it? Lots to do and see in the area
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Old 09-17-2019, 02:07 PM   #18
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I have not been to MI or the UP in about 6 years. I know MI campgrounds in general get quite crowded so reserve early. Driving times for ALL the things you mention would be ominous for kids. Countryside can be rather dull and boring as it all looks about the same for miles and miles in the UP.

SOO Locks were quite neat to see, but to see a full passage of a ship from the viewing area is the best and takes some time as you may have to wait on THEIR schedule.

The western side of MI is a nice drive with lots to see from Sleeping Bear Dunes all the way up thru Traverse City. Beats the interstate but takes longer for sure. Try to stop around Petoskey to look for the famous Petoskey stones on the lake shore.

Be sure to spend some time at the beach on Lake Superior... cold water but amazingly clear... we camped at two of the federal campgrounds east of Picture Rocks for several days, but NO RESERVATIONS and no services at sites, but amazing beach and wading/swimming in the hot summer.

St Ignace on the southern tip of the UP has some great cheap dining and a trip to the St Ignace S Park to see the bridge from lake level especially at night is a treat. If there are high winds, like 40-45MPH they close the bridge to trailer traffic. This made us have to take an extra night at the St Ignace campground on the way home.

Hope this helps...
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Old 09-17-2019, 02:08 PM   #19
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Manistique

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Also thinking about skipping Manistique and use Mackinaw as the hub for all sites. Thoughts?
I would not miss Manistique if you can handle it timewise. It is a fairly new campground and well worth the time. We came from Copper Harbor (as far North in U.P. as you can get and still be in U.S.), and stayed in Mnstiq & enjoyed it staying on the lakeshore. IMHO
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Old 09-17-2019, 02:30 PM   #20
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Soo Locks

There is not much to see there other than the water goes up and down to move the boats through. If you want to free up some time and mileage you might scratch it off the itinerary,
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