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Most Michiganders have acclimated to the occasionally extreme weather of our Awesome Mitten. We’ve evolved into a resilient, adaptive species with an ever-growing taste for experimental outdoor recreation. Many of my Marquette-area friends enjoy winter camping, and I’ve compiled a list of the best spots to appreciate the UP’s pristine winter beauty.
1. Dead River Falls, Marquette
White riverbanks. Branches heavy with snow, dipping into the rushing water. A picturesque scene complete with a cold, clear river, Dead River Falls is a local favorite for camping. Winter hiking doesn’t get more beautiful than this. Just try not to fall in!
2. Porcupine Mountains, Ontonagon
With over 50,000 acres of untouched hardwood forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains, the Porcupine Mountain State Park is an ideal spot to lose oneself in the Upper Peninsula’s stunning winter beauty. Some trees in this area are over 200 years old!
3. J. W. Wells State Park, Cedar River
Stunning views of Green Bay, cross-country ski trails, and ice fishing are just some of the amenities offered at J.W. Wells State Park. And if pitching a tent in the snow isn’t quite your style, Wells State Park has rustic cabins available for rent year round.
4. Fort Wilkins, Copper Harbor
Fort Wilkins was built as a means of keeping order during the copper mining rush in the 1840s, and now Fort Wilkins Historic State Park is the perfect campground for winter campers who enjoy learning more about our awesome Mitten’s vivid history. Although tours are unavailable during the winter months, feel free to traipse around the Fort, and Copper Harbor Lighthouse.
5. McLain State Park, Hancock
With miles-long trail loops, and two-and-a-half miles of Lake Superior shoreline, McLain State Park is a snow-shoer’s dream. Providing the perfect location for a base-camp, the area is known for its plethora of historical landmarks, unique natural beauty, and gorgeous sunsets.
Be sure to bring a sturdy tent, insulated sleeping bag and sleeping pad, and plenty of water and calorie-dense nutrition. Also, it’s extremely important to let people know where you’re planning to set up camp and when you’ll be leaving and coming back from your trip. Of course, a fully charged cell phone and extra batteries are necessary.
Many state parks offer year-round camping and vault toilets for convenience. Always check with your favorite park for rates and availability. Winter camping is an incomparable experience in our Awesome Mitten’s Upper Peninsula – so get out there and enjoy the winter wonderland that is Michigan!
Claire Moore – Feature Writer