Those who are searching for peace, solitude, and natural beauty in a place that’s full of history and adventure will find that one of the best attractions in Michigan is Crisp Point Lighthouse.
Located in the northern reaches of the Upper Peninsula, this remote lighthouse is no longer operational but has stood the test of time. It’s more than just a photo opportunity — it’s a point of reflection and a spot where visitors can enjoy the rough, rugged, and breathtaking terrain of the Michigan Upper Peninsula.
…it is quite the drive to get up to this lighthouse, so if you are interested in visiting, start by asking yourself if your vehicle is up for the 20 mile (each way) drive on dirt/washboard gravel/sand/deep sand/one lane/hilly/narrow road.
It gets progressively worse the further from the main road you get. Some of the way is not bad at all. Some of the way you ask yourself what they heck are you doing there. Oh, I forgot about the washout area and the big humps/holes that you better watch out for so you don’t accidently go “Dukes of Hazzard” airborne.
At some point, you will be driving the one lane area and a car/truck/motor home will be coming the other way and you both need to figure out who can get out of the way so you can get past each other. We also had to deal with a car that broke down in the road and we had to drive around, which meant going up into the brush.
The payoff is an absolutely beautiful Lake Superior beach (rocky) that you will have almost to yourself, a great lighthouse you can climb up into, a nice gift shop with super nice volunteers working, some excellent rock hunting, and a very interesting history lesson. Check out the Google Maps Photo Spheres in Street View. It shows how amazing it is.
Visiting Crisp Point Lighthouse
For many years, Crisp Point Lighthouse wasn’t a tourist attraction — simply because it was impossible to reach it. It only became accessible by road in recent years, and it’s still considered to be one of the most remote lighthouses in the Upper Peninsula.
For some travelers, the challenge of reaching Crisp Point Lighthouse is a drawback. But for those who are drawn to adventure, solitude, and an authentic experience, it makes the reward much greater.
We first visited Crisp Point Lighthouse in 2020 on a friend’s recommendation. Although it was enjoyable, the pandemic had closed the tower, the day was rainy, and the drive over muddy rutted dirt roads was a joy sapper.
Dry weather and 2 years later, what a difference. The driving route had been fully graded and was even enjoyable, and the park itself was gorgeous. We loved chatting with the visiting caretaker family in the gift shop (full of unique, affordable items). Then climbed the tower (just do it) and ate our picnic lunch in the middle of a quiet spot that smelled like white pine trees.
The Location of Crisp Point
Crisp Point Lighthouse is located about 40 miles north of Newberry, on the shores of Lake Superior. Many visitors describe this majestic yet tired lighthouse as a lonely sight — it’s the only beacon of hope on a deserted stretch of land that’s largely surrounded by forest.
However, a visit to this lighthouse can be transformative in many ways. It’s a chance to reconnect with nature and uncover the maritime history of Michigan in one of the farthest corners of the state.
Getting to Crisp Point Lighthouse
To get to Crisp Point Lighthouse, you’ll need to traverse down a gravel road through Lake Superior State Forest. It can be a trying drive because it tends to linger, but the effort is worthwhile as soon as the lighthouse comes into view.
This road is only open during the summer months, and it’s not maintained during the cold, snowy winter season.
If you’re coming from Newberry, take M-123 north to the intersection with CR-500 (this is a gravel road). Turn north on CR-500 to the intersection of CR-412. Take CR-412, and follow the signs to the lighthouse. Signs mark the road all the way to Crisp Point Lighthouse from M-123.
Things to Do at the Lighthouse
When you arrive at Crisp Point Lighthouse, you can explore the Visitor Center and climb to the top of the tower. Again, this is a seasonal attraction, so it’s best to plan your visit during the late spring, summer, or early fall.
While this may seem like a remote destination with little to do, you may want to spend at least half a day at the lighthouse. You’ll want to not only take time to read about the light’s history but also spend several hours exploring the shores of the beach and soaking up the peaceful solitude of this space.
Even if you’re not a huge maritime fan, the view from the top of the lighthouse and the scenic beach on which it stands (make the trek well worthwhile.) (In fact,) the view from the top of Crisp Point Lighthouse is expansive.
Besides, if you plan to visit the Tahquamenon Falls area, you’re already going to be nearby. And in my opinion, visiting Crisp Point Lighthouse is easily one of the top things to do in this area. The lighthouse sits on a huge, undeveloped section of beach, and you’d be remiss if you didn’t explore it.
The History of Crisp Point Lighthouse Michigan
Today, Crisp Point Lighthouse is preserved and maintained by the Crisp Point Light Historical Society. In addition to its preservation efforts, this organization works to share the story of this lighthouse.
The history begins about 25 years before the lighthouse was built, with the creation of Crisp Point Michigan. In 1875, it became one of five life-saving service stations on Lake Superior. By 1896, the keepers at Crisp Point were recommending the construction of a lighthouse.
Finally, the request for a lighthouse was approved in June 1902, and construction began in 1903. By the spring of 1904, the stately Crisp Point Lighthouse was operational, and keepers were living in the lighthouse in order to keep those on the rough waters of Lake Superior as safe as possible.
When Crisp Point was operational, there were several facilities on the property — a lighthouse tower, fog signal building, brick service room, oil house, lifesaving station and quarters, keeper’s quarters, two barns, and boathouse. It may have been a remote destination, but this station was a village in and of itself.
This is a hidden gem! The road is rough to go thru but the drive is worth it!! There is a store/ museum and a great boardwalk to the lighthouse which you can climb to the top!! The seashore is fantastic. There are no other services except for rest rooms so bring your food and drinks. This is well worth it!!sabledad, TripAdvisor review
The lighthouse was operational for nearly a century, but it was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1993. For a few years, the lighthouse was left behind and was not maintained.
In 1996, a large portion of the service room was washed away by the waters of Lake Superior. Then in 1997, Luce County took ownership of the lighthouse.
It wasn’t until 1999, though, that the rest of the road was finished leading to Crisp Point, which finally made it accessible for visitors from around Michigan to see this mighty lighthouse with a storied past.
Crisp Point Lighthouse Keepers
Throughout the years, Crisp Point Lighthouse had several dedicated keepers. They often worked side-by-side with the Crisp Point life-saving station keepers.
During the time that the lighthouse was operational, there was a two-family dwelling next to the lighthouse that housed the keepers and their families. Some of the keepers of Crisp Point Lighthouse include:
- John E. Smith
- Herbert N. Burrows
- George W. Smith
- Jacob H. Gibb
- Herbert P. Crittenden
- Joseph N. Singleton
Today, the Crisp Point Light Historical Society maintains the light, and its members serve as volunteer keepers. At any given time, there are at least two volunteer keepers and up to six people total working to maintain the light throughout the year.
Volunteer keepers can camp at the lighthouse, but they’re also welcome to stay at nearby hotels. It’s a unique opportunity for the members, and many of them take pride in the fact that they get to perform such important tasks for the lighthouse that they love so much.
Erosion at Crisp Point Lighthouse
One of the biggest threats to Crisp Point Lighthouse is erosion. Lake Superior and its famously wild storms are constantly looming. Every time the water laps up onto the lighthouse, there’s a chance that it will sustain damage.
Rising lake levels also contribute to the threat of erosion. Some of the service building was washed away in a storm in 1996. In recent years, measures have been taken to protect the lighthouse from further erosion and destruction.
In 1998, stones were placed in front of the lighthouse to protect it from erosion. Then in 2009, the historical society created a new visitor information center to replicate the former fog horn building.
The drive there is part of the experience; it’s a long drive rom anywhere and the last 7 miles is a narrow dirt road, so it’s advisable to call ahead to check road conditions. Once you’re there… wow! Miles and miles of unspoiled Lake Superior shoreline with few people. The view from the top of the lighthouse (of which there is no charge to climb, but donations are accepted) is spectacular!
The beach is a rock hunters dream! The all – volunteer “staff” is friendly and informed and are a delight. There is a small Visitors Center, with museum quality exhibits and lots of merchandise to purchase – all proceeds go to restoration & upkeep of the lighthouse. There are flush toilets, but bring your own drinking water as there is none on site. No electricity or cell phone signal either – it’s a perfect chance to escape technology and civilization! (Also no trash service, so take your trash with you.)
DO NOT use GPS to get there, as it may take you down the wrong way… onto an ATV trail. (GPS is sporadic in the U.P.) You should take at least 1/2 day to enjoy this beautiful place and you won’t be disappointed!Mucha247, TripAdvisor review
Places to Stay Near Crisp Point Lighthouse
Crisp Point Lighthouse is one of the most remote destinations in the Upper Peninsula, so your best options for lodging are in the communities of Newberry and Paradise. Some hotels and motels nearest Crisp Point Lighthouse include:
- Cloud Nine Cottages in Paradise Michigan — These rustic cottages are located on the shores of Whitefish Bay and are within a short driving distance of the lighthouse.
- Del-Les Resort in Newberry Michigan — This small hotel is actually the closest place to stay near Crisp Point Lighthouse. It’s about 6 miles away and offers Lake Superior views.
- Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise Michigan — To keep with the lighthouse theme of your vacation, consider staying at the recently refurbished 1923 Coast Guard Lifeboat Station Crew Quarters in the museum. There are five rooms, all of which have a different theme, and you get a continental breakfast with your stay.
Dining Near Crisp Point Lighthouse
One of the best ways to enjoy a meal during your visit to Crisp Point Lighthouse is to pack a picnic and sit on the shores of Lake Superior, soaking up the views while you nourish yourself.
If you find yourself in need of breakfast before your journey or an evening meal after your adventure, you could grab a bite to eat at one of these nearby restaurants:
- Berry Patch Gifts, Bakery, & Restaurant — This restaurant is located on M-123 in Paradise, and it serves delicious pasties, homemade soups, and breakfast all day. It’s open seven days per week the entire year, so it’s a reliable option for anyone traveling to the lighthouse.
- Tahquamenon Falls Brewery — Located in Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise, this restaurant is known for its delicious pub-style meals and frothy, flavorful brews.
Frequently Asked Questions About Crisp Point Lighthouse
How do you get to Crisp Point Lighthouse?
Crisp Point Lighthouse is a remote destination that has only been accessible by road since 1999.
The address for the lighthouse is 1944 CR-412, but don’t put that address into your GPS. You won’t end up at the right location, and it may take you down gravel paths that are only meant for 4×4 recreational vehicles.
Keep in mind that CR-412 is designated as a seasonal road, so it’s not maintained during the winter months. It’s best to visit Crisp Point Lighthouse during the late spring, summer, and early fall.
Can you go inside Crisp Point Lighthouse?
Yes, you can go inside the lighthouse and climb to the top. However, this is a seasonal attraction that’s only open during the summer months.
When was Crisp Point Lighthouse built?
Crisp Point Lighthouse was built in 1903 and 1904, and it was officially commissioned for use in 1904. For nearly a century, it guided boaters on the dangerous waters of Lake Superior. It was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1993.
How many lighthouses are in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula?
Throughout the Upper Peninsula, there are more than 40 lighthouses. Most of them were built in the 19th century and were in operation throughout much of the 20th century.
A visit to the Crisp Point Lighthouse is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon when visiting the Tahquamenon Falls area. Climb the tower, walk the beach, and enjoy this serene section of the Upper Peninsula.