The Great American Road Trip is back—but you don’t have to drive across the country to experience epic scenery—there’s so much to explore right here in the Upper Peninsula! From lonely lighthouses to towering cliffs, day trips from Marquette open up a world of exploration.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
America’s first National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks, is located less than an hour east of Marquette. Explore pristine beaches, 100 miles of trails, flowing waterfalls, and towering sandstone cliffs. Serene woodlands and emerald water creates a peaceful escape. The park offers a range of accessible trails and campsites.
Photo courtesy Mike Hellyer Photography
Often referred to as The Grand Canyon of the U.P., Canyon Falls is about an hour's drive from Marquette. Fed by the Sturgeon River, the falls are impressive, and the hike to access them is about 1-mile over level terrain. The trail is part of the 4,800 mile North Country National Scenic Trail (and is very well maintained to the falls and beyond by volunteers from the Peter Wolfe Chapter of the NCTA.) Hikers can hike west to North Dakota from the Canyon Falls trail or they can hike east to Marquette and on to Vermont from the Canyon Falls trail.
Fill up your tank and check out Michigan’s largest freshwater spring in Manistique—an 88-mile drive worth the trip. Though the legends surrounding Kitch-iti-kipi are many, one thing is for certain, you’ll find peaceful surroundings here. Hop aboard the self-operated observation raft to access vantage points. Look for clouds of sand kept in constant motion by the bubbling spring and fat trout swimming through the crystal waters below.
Closer to Base Camp
Marquette is full of adventures right in its backyard. From exploring rushing waterfalls to climbing historical lighthouses, you’re sure to enjoy the ride.
Waterfalls in Marquette County
It’s no secret that Marquette is abundant in natural resources. A fun way to spend the day is to cruise around the U.P., checking out the area’s gorgeous waterfalls. You can hit multiple in a day with varying levels of hiking difficulty on the trails leading up to the falls. Morgan Falls provides easy access for all ages and doesn’t compromise on beauty. Dead River Falls may be a short hike, but it requires a bit more surefootedness.
Yellow Dog Falls has multiple trail options leading to the pristine falls where you can see native brook trout in their element. Close by, the trailhead to Pinnacle Falls leads down an ancient path to rushing water sliding down rock formations. This up close and personal view of the falls is the perfect place to reflect on a perfect day spent in nature.
Lake Superior Lighthouses
Marquette’s rich maritime history is clear in the towering lighthouses that dot the landscape. Hop in your ride, grab some road trip snacks, and take a day to see them all and maybe visit one of the few accessible to the public.
Huron Island Lighthouse is located three miles off the coast of Lake Superior in Big Bay. The Lighthouse Island is accessible by boat but is open for day hikes only. Keep in mind that there are no toilet facilities, fires are not permitted, and landing on other islands in the refuge is prohibited.
Big Bay Point Lighthouse is nestled on the cliffs of Lake Superior about 25 miles north of Marquette. As one of the few surviving resident lighthouses in the country, it pulls double duty as a bed-and-breakfast.
The Marquette Harbor Lighthouse is the oldest significant structure in the city and played an essential role in the Great Lakes iron ore trade. Today, it is open for tours (hours are limited) throughout the summer and early fall.
Presque Isle Harbor Lighthouse is a working beacon that still guides ships today into the railroad iron ore docks. Check online ahead of time to see when you can catch a freighter coming in.
Lastly, known as “The Loneliest Place in the World,” Stannard Rock Lighthouse towers 102 feet above Lake Superior and is a popular destination among seasoned fishermen.