The Keweenaw Peninsula is one of the most beautiful and picturesque spots in the Upper Peninsula, and nowhere is that more evident than Brockway Mountain Drive.
Located near Copper Harbor, at the “tip of the hat” in the UP, Brockway Mountain Drive offers nearly nine miles of the most beautiful Michigan scenery. It’s the highest above sea-level drive between the Allegheny and Rocky Mountain ranges – going up more than 1,300 feet above sea level.
As you set a casual pace on your drive, you’ll see thousands of acres of the Keweenaw Peninsula and marvelous views of Lake Superior.
Michiganders know the Upper Peninsula offers so much natural beauty, fun activities, and so many hidden gems, but Brockway Mountain Drive should definitely be on your things to do in the UP list.
Getting to Know Brockway Mountain Drive
Named for David Brockway, a U.P. pioneer, Brockway Mountain, and Brockway Mountain Drive sit about as far north in Michigan as you can go, without going into Lake Superior!
Brockway Mountain stands 1,320 feet above sea level. This works out to be about 720 feet above the surface of Lake Superior which means beautiful views in every direction; you can even see Isle Royale in the distance out over the water!
The 8.9-mile Brockway Mountain Drive has delighted visitors for decades and is also an important part of Michigan’s history.
After the stock market crash of 1929, mining operations in the Keweenaw Peninsula came to a halt. At that time, roads in the area were mostly used by miners and not necessarily used for tourism.
An idea was hatched to build a scenic drive, drawing visitors to the area and putting out-of-work laborers back to work. In 1933, the idea of a scenic drive in the Keweenaw became a reality. The drive was built using the Michigan Civilian Conservation Corps.
It was carved out and leveled by hand and sometimes horses – the use of machinery and instruments meant fewer jobs for the people in need of work. Construction lasted for two years, and the road was opened to the public in 1935.
Brockway Mountain FAQs
How tall is Brockway Mountain?
The mountain is 1,328 feet above sea level
Is Brockway Mountain Drive open?
Typically, Brockway Mountain Drive is open in early spring (around April) and closes during the winter months since the road isn’t plowed during the winter.
Where in Michigan is Brockway Mountain?
Brockway Mountain Lookout is located in Mohawk, Michigan in Keweenaw County. On a good day, you can look out over Copper Harbor and Isle Royale.
How was Brockway Mountain formed?
Eons of different geologic events in the Lake Superior basin, weather, glaciers, and time created the coastal ridge on which the mountain sits today.
Getting to Brockway Mountain Drive
But Brockway Mountain Drive may just be in a category all its own. The nearly nine-mile scenic roadway offers a great view, as it has for decades, but it also offers so much more.
To get to Brockway Mountain, head into Copper Harbor on US-41 and hang a left onto M-26. Once you’ve made the turn, keep your eyes peeled for signs for Brockway Mountain Drive. When you get to the signs, turn left and get ready to shift your car to low gear.
If you want to access the drive from the west side, head north on Highway M-26 instead of US-41. The drive begins about three miles east of Eagle Harbor. Keep your eyes peeled for the signs!
As your vehicle climbs onward and upward on the drive, don’t be surprised if your ears pop. That means you’re gaining altitude! There’s no posted speed limit, but you’ll want to go slow and easy to make the most of it.
Amazing Views on the Brockway Mountain Drive
As you make the climb up and eventually get to Brockway Mountain, take time to stop and really take in the views before you. The top of Brockway Mountain, especially the West Bluff, offers breathtaking panoramic views in all directions, so be sure to bring your camera.
From more than 1,300 feet above sea level, you’ll really feel like you’re on top of the world.
- Look to the west and you’ll see Mount Baldy and Lake Bailey.
- Look to the north and you’ll see the majestic Lake Superior.
- Look to the south and you’ll see Lake Medora, a beautiful inland lake that sits just outside Copper Harbor.
- Look to the east and you’ll see the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula as well as a view of Copper Harbor.
Between driving and getting out to see the incredible beauty of nature in front of you, you’ll very easily spend an hour (or two or three) on this awesome, unforgettable drive.
This was not my first time here, the views are amazing, what you do need to know is that the road is rough and is very steep in places, steep up, steep down but you will not get more amazing views in the area… There is a swing at the top for taking pictures and also a bench, it’s absolutely beautiful. Then there is a really nice viewing platform coming down that has a beautiful view that you can see the Copper Harbor lighthouse. It’s stunning.Christy S. via TripAdvisor
Year-Round Adventures on the Brockway Mountain
Brockway Mountain Drive is open seasonally, usually from April to roughly November, but there’s still lots of fun to be had year-round on Brockway Mountain.
It’s no secret that the Upper Peninsula gets a lot of snow (sometimes over 200 feet in winter!), so the road isn’t plowed in the colder months. The road itself runs along the Brockway fault as a scenic loop off of M-26 and is closed during the winter when it is only open to snowmobile traffic.
But since the U.P. gets so much snow, Brockway Mountain is an ideal place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. It’s accessible by snowmobile, so you can have lots of winter fun in the Upper Peninsula if you’ve got a way to get up the mountain.
In the spring and summer, Brockway Mountain Drive is a great spot for hiking. Along the drive, there are a couple of hiking trails along with several lookout points. You can even bike to the summit if you wish.
- The James Dorion Rooks Memorial Nature Sanctuary runs along the sides of Brockway Mountain to the nose of the mountain. It’s a one-mile trail with some rolling terrain and great views.
- The Rooks Trailhead can be found about a half mile east on Brockway Mountain Drive.
- The James H. Klipfel Memorial Nature Sanctuary is a moderately difficult, three-quarter-mile trail that offers quite the view of Lake Superior.
In the fall, Brockway Mountain Drive is the perfect place to see an amazing array of fall colors. The top of the mountain is a stunning spot to watch a sunrise or a sunset anytime, but the fall colors here are truly something special.
You can see excellent panoramic views of beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges as fall rolls through the Keweenaw Peninsula. If you’re doing a fall color tour of the U.P., Brockway Mountain should definitely be on your list of stops.
Arguably the best view in the entire state of Michigan. If you find yourself in the Keweenaw, do not miss this!! I imagine it could be tough to see much on a day with bad weather. But if you’re lucky enough to hit a clear day like we did, it’s absolutely breathtaking up there. Lake Superior on one side, the hills and trees and other inland lakes on the other. Gorgeous!! I can only imagine how incredible this must be during fall color time. We thought we’d read that there were some hiking trails near the top, but we couldn’t find them. Just the drive up on one side and the drive down in the other. Still 100% worth it.Emily via TripAdvisor
Other Fun Things to See & Do on Brockway Mountain
Visiting Brockway Mountain and traversing Brockway Mountain Drive is a thrill like no other and you’ll have views in front of you that you can’t get anywhere else.
But the drive and the mountain are also great places to see beautiful plants and wildlife on your journey. Just off the drive, The Brockway Mountain Audobon Wildlife Sanctuary covers about 80 acres, with several walking trails and scenic overlooks.
If you love birdwatching, bring your binoculars and keep your eyes peeled. Birds of prey are often present and it’s not uncommon to catch glimpses of bald eagles, turkey vultures, red-tailed haws, broad-winged hawks, and other majestic birds.
Spring is a great time to visit because you can see these birds of prey during their annual spring migration.
The climate in this area of Keweenaw County also provides the perfect conditions for some rarely seen flora and fauna. As you make your way on the drive, admire the views, but keep a lookout for different grasses and wildflowers, including the green adder’s mouth orchid and the purple cliff-brake fern.
Plan Your Trip to Brockway Mountain Today
To say that a slow, scenic ride along Brockway Mountain Drive is breathtaking may just be an understatement of how awesome it really is. The views along the drive and from the summit of the mountain are awe-inspiring and memorable, and really do showcase the natural majesty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The U.P. offers so much to see and do and explore, so make sure a trip on Brockway Mountain Drive is on your bucket list. You can go at your own pace, soaking up the views from every lookout point and every vista.
These views are undoubtedly some of the best in North America, so hop in the car with your friends and family, grab your camera and prepare to be wowed by the magnificence of Lake Superior and Brockway Mountain.
Thanks to Nathan Smathers for his contributions to this article.