The Keweenaw Peninsula has such a vast amount of breathtaking scenery that it can be overwhelming to decide where to go first. You might have an even harder time deciding during the fall — the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows in the trees offer outstanding views in every direction!
Narrowing it down, we’ve put together five fantastic fall scenic drives in the Keweenaw Peninsula that are full of leaf-peeping opportunities. Each scenic drive includes interesting attractions, delicious restaurants, and cozy accommodations for planning your Upper Peninsula fall getaway.
Brockway Mountain Drive | Copper Harbor to Upson Lake Nature Sanctuary
One of the most scenic roads on the Keweenaw, Brockway Mountain Drive offers the ultimate view of the tip of the peninsula. The leisurely drive takes you to the highest point above sea level between Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor.
It starts just outside of downtown Copper Harbor and stretches for nearly 10 miles. While the drive straight through takes about 20 minutes, there are numerous pull-offs for photo ops and preserves to see along the way.
The first outlook is only a couple of minutes into the journey and offers a beautiful view of Copper Harbor with Lake Superior in the background. From there, the journey gets steeper, but you get even better views from the top of Brockway Mountain. Then, there are even more stops down the other side.
Things to Do Along Brockway Mountain Drive
Next-Door Nature Sanctuaries
As you drive up Brockway Mountain Drive, you’ll come to three nature sanctuaries that share borders. Even though they’re so close together, each one is worth visiting.
The Sharon E. Johnson Memorial Nature Sanctuary is more than midway to the top of the mountain. This 120-acre preserve is home to the heart-leaved arnica, an endangered species in Michigan that thrives in the area’s alkaline, dry conditions.
A memorial to a West Michigan native who loved the outdoors, the John J. Helstrom Nature Sanctuary is also home to the heart-leaved arnica. You’ll find blue-eyed mary, green adder’s mouth orchid, little grape fern, moonwort fern, and purple cliff brake. It’s a great place to see hawks, owls, raptors, and other birds too.
Named in honor of an avid outdoorsman who visited Northern Michigan often, the James H. Klipfel Memorial Nature Sanctuary has a 0.75-mile trail loop with an excellent view of Lake Superior. The sanctuary is ideal for bird-watching as well.
Brockway Mountain Scenic Outlook
When you reach the top of Brockway Mountain, you’ll get unparalleled views of Lake Superior and Keweenaw’s wilderness. It’s the perfect spot to see the fall colors because it’s the highest point near Copper Harbor.
Brockway Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary Trail
Along the 0.75-mile Brockway Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary Trail, you’ll find Lake Shore Traps. The lava flows are intertwined with the Copper Harbor Conglomerate, which is a huge sequence of rifts that fill redbeds. The redbeds were formed from Rodinia, a deeply rifted continent that was carried here by massive floods and rivers.
Upson Lake Nature Sanctuary
Featuring 100 acres, Upson Lake Nature Sanctuary rests on part of Upson Lake and Upson Creek. Additionally, some of the sanctuary includes mature forests of balsam fir, large red and white pines, tamarack, white cedar, and white spruce.
Restaurants in Copper Harbor
If you’re looking for a meal with a view of the water, Harbor Haus has nothing but Lake Superior views. It’s right on the shore and has large picture windows, so you could see kayakers, ore freighters, and other marine traffic while you dine.
Plus, the menu features local fish and produce, steak, seafood, and more. And, the bar serves an array of German beer, cocktails, and wine. Everything is served by wait staff dressed in Dirndls — traditional Austrian and German peasant dresses.
Jamsen’s Fish Market & Bakery
Also on the waterfront, Jamsen’s Fish Market & Bakery has freshly baked goods made with local ingredients when possible. You can get fresh and smoked trout and whitefish from Lake Superior, as well as cookies, doughnuts, jams, jellies, muffins, scones, syrups, and turnovers. Coffee is also on the menu.
The most northern craft brewery in Michigan, Brickside Brewery was started in 2012, bringing craft beer to Copper Harbor. It has a low-key atmosphere, so it’s a wonderful spot to rest after exploring Brockway Mountain Drive.
Lodging in Copper Harbor
The Mariner North
For refreshing sleep, The Mariner North has spacious motel rooms and log cabins — each of which is slightly different. All of the rooms and cabins have oversized whirlpool tubs, while some of the other amenities vary.
There’s also a restaurant at The Mariner North. The lunch and dinner menus include artisan grilled cheese, barbecue ribs, pizza, pasta, sandwiches, seafood, and entrees of chicken, beef, and pork.
Lake Fanny Hooe Resort & Campground
With motel rooms, cottages and cabins, and campsites, Lake Fanny Hooe Resort & Campground rests on Lake Fanny Hooe in Copper Harbor. While you’re here, you can take advantage of the arcade and snack area in the clubhouse, the children’s playground, and the swimming beach.
There are grills, fire pits, and picnic tables throughout the campground, and you can rent canoes and boats to use on the lake. In addition, you can grab a bite to eat and drink at Lake Effect Bar and Grill, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
M-26 | Copper Harbor to Eagle River
Running along the shoreline of Lake Superior, the stretch of M-26 between Copper Harbor and Eagle River is an absolute delight to drive during the fall. For about 20 miles, you’ll enjoy colorful leaves on one side and dazzling water on the other. On top of that, there are tons of places to stop on the way.
Attractions Along M-26
Joseph and Mary Lizzadro Lakeshore Preserve
Consisting of 643 feet of untouched shoreline, Joseph and Mary Lizzadro Lakeshore Preserve is just 4 miles from Copper Harbor. The bedrock beach is one of just three A-ranked, globally-rare communities of its kind in Michigan. You can find rain impressions, ripple marks, and fossilized stromatolites here.
Just offshore, there’s a deep hole for diving, but not many people brave the cold water during fall. The rest of the preserve has hardwood forests, a lowland swamp, and several small offshore islands.
Esrey Park & Keweenaw Shores No. 1 Nature Sanctuary
Connected to Upson Lake Nature Sanctuary, Keweenaw Shores No. 1 Nature Sanctuary has more than colorful leaves. You’ll also find a fabulous range of rocks covered in colorful green, orange, pink, and yellow moss.
The sanctuary is one of a few spots in Michigan with a cove where you can see the sunset and sunrise without visual obstructions. A trail leads over several Copper Harbor Conglomerate ridges and four plant communities. And, Esrey Park on the roadside offers beach access and a picnic area.
Mariner’s Preserve at Silver River Falls
Featuring a memorial for David Murphy, the Mariner’s Preserve at Silver River Falls offers public access to the beloved waterfall that cascades over conglomerate basalt and rock. Along with the short trail to the falls, the bridge in the preserve is a popular attraction.
Lake Bailey Wildlife Sanctuary
The Lake Bailey Wildlife Sanctuary has a 1-mile trail that passes through multiple forest communities. At the top of the uphill climb, you’ll find an overlook at nearly 200 feet that offers a breathtaking view of fall colors and Lake Superior.
Eagle Harbor Red Pine Dunes Nature Sanctuary
Protecting 25 acres of back dune natural communities, the Eagle Harbor Red Pine Dunes Nature Sanctuary features forests of club mosses, junipers, pink lady slippers, and red and white pines. The red pines here are about 70 to 90 years old!
Cy Clark Memorial Nature Sanctuary
On the Great Sand Bay after passing Eagle Harbor, the Cy Clark Memorial Nature Sanctuary consists of balsam, black spruce, cedar, red maple, round leaf sundew, and other plants. A trail through the preserve leads through brush to a small lake.
George Hite Dunes & Marshes Preserve
Of the 360-acre George Hite Dunes & Marshes Preserve, about 40 acres are coastal dunes on Lake Superior, 10 acres of which are designated “critical dunes.” The preserve features forested ridges, marshes, swales, ancient bedrock, a creek, two small lakes, and numerous ponds.
Jacob’s Falls & The Jampot
Because of its location next to M-26 just 3 miles northeast of Eagle River, Jacob’s Falls is one of the best Michigan waterfalls to explore. The 20-foot drop that you can see from the road is the main falls, but the water cascades for about 40 feet total.
It’s only about 225 feet from The Jampot too. This monastery-owned shop sells a variety of delectable goods — handmade preserves and jams, confections, fruitcakes, cookies, and more.
Lower Eagle River Falls & Dam
As you arrive in Eagle River, you’ll come to the Lower Eagle River Falls and dam. There’s a parking area and footbridge so that you can view the water.
The falls are where the original Lake Superior Fuse Company was. Some of the dam still remains at a height of more than 60 feet, and a sheet of water falls over it and into the gorge below.
If you drive past Eagle River, the Upper Eagle River Falls is about 1 mile from where M-26 connects to US-41. You’ll see a small parking area for it on the left.
Restaurants & Lodging Between Copper Harbor & Eagle Harbor
Dapple-Gray Bed & Breakfast | Mohawk
Located on 27 acres of forested slopes, Dapple-Gray Bed & Breakfast is a log lodge with 600 feet of rocky, Lake Superior shore cliffs and clear water. It has four guest suites and an array of amenities — a 28-foot-high fireplace, a sauna, and an antique shop.
Eagle Harbor Inn
Offering seven comfy rooms and an apartment, Eagle Harbor Inn is a wonderful place to stay while exploring M-26. It’s only steps from the beach, walking trails, and Eagle Harbor Lighthouse. Plus, there’s an on-site restaurant that makes gourmet burgers, barbecue ribs, lobster pizza, and cocktails.
Fletchy’s Otter Belly Lodge | Eagle Harbor
Another lodging option in Eagle Harbor, Fletchy’s Otter Belly Lodge has fully-furnished rooms on the beach. It’s also a restaurant where you can get breakfast skillets, hot and iced lattes, ice cream, and root beer floats.
Fitzgerald’s Hotel & Restaurant | Eagle River
If you decide to stay in Eagle River, Fitzgerald’s Hotel & Restaurant has 500-square-foot rooms with king beds. The on-site restaurant serves some of the best smokehouse barbecue in the area alongside craft beer and fine whisky.
US-41 | Copper Harbor to Central
US-41 is the main highway connecting the many towns and cities through the Keweenaw Peninsula. Also, it’s known as the Copper Country Trail National Byway.
During the fall, US-41 between Copper Harbor and Central is lined with vibrant trees. While it would only take about 25 minutes to drive straight through, there are some interesting places to stop along the way.
Things to Do Along the Copper County Trail National Byway
James Dorion Rooks Memorial Nature Sanctuary at Garden Brook
Extending up the hillside from the highway, all the way to Brockway Mountain Drive, the James Dorion Rooks Memorial Nature Sanctuary at Garden Brook is named after a local nature interpreter, naturalist, environmental educator, and avid birder.
Garden Brook runs through the sanctuary near US-41, and there’s a lovely trail that traverses the preserve, crossing the river at one point. Along with some plant species unique to the county, the aspen, chokecherry, red oak, and sugar maple trees make a colorful canopy.
Delaware Ghost Town & Mine Tours
Some time after passing Lake Medora, you’ll come to the ghost town of Delaware, a once booming mine town. Only a few 1870s homes are still standing, and one of them bears a handmade sign that advertises rocks.
You can use the above-ground trails to walk around the buildings. And, you can take an adventure into a historic copper mine with Delaware Copper Mine Tours.
Central Mine Historic District | Houghton Township
Once settled around the Central Mining Company in 1854, the Central Mine Historic District offers a walk through history. The copper mine was a successful site for more than 40 years, but it slowly became a ghost town after 1894.
Many of the homes have been restored, and three buildings are open to visitors. Open until mid-October, the Visitor Center features interpretive exhibits about the old town and maps for the self-guided walking tour. There’s also a memorial garden.
Best Place to Stay Between Copper Harbor & Central
Near the beginning of this US-41 route, Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is a fantastic place to stay. This historic wilderness resort has everything that you can imagine — 24 cabins, a 9-hole golf course, a disc golf course, and opportunities for mountain biking, hiking, birding, sea kayaking, and stargazing.
You have two options for dining — the main dining room and the Little Cabin Cafe for to-go orders. The dining room menu features a limited menu of chicken, eggplant, and steak entrees with a couple of appetizers and desserts. The cafe serves breakfast bowls and burritos, sandwiches and chips, and all-day specialty coffees and snacks.
Gay Lac La Belle Rd | Lac La Belle to Gay
For a quieter journey, travel Gay Lac La Belle Road between Lac La Belle and Gay Michigan. This more than 20-mile stretch of country road wraps around the namesake lake to the Lake Superior shoreline.
While the area is less traveled than most of the other fall scenic drives on the Keweenaw Peninsula, there’s a lighthouse, several parks and beaches, and other unique attractions to see.
Attractions Along Gay Lac La Belle Rd
To see Mendota Lighthouse (Bete Gris Light Station), you actually need to drive in the opposite direction, following Bete Grise Rd (Lac La Belle Rd) until you reach the end. From there, you can park and walk the short path to observe the privately owned lighthouse from across the Mendota Ship Canal.
The property has been maintained and remains unchanged since the lighthouse was built in 1895. You can see all of the restored out-buildings too. The original boathouse was built in 1903, and it’s still in great condition.
Haven Falls Park & Falls
After getting back on Gay Lac La Belle Rd, you’ll see Haven Falls Park on the right about a half-mile into the journey. This roadside park is home to Haven Falls Waterfall, which is possible to see from the road. A small creek flows over an outcropping of rock and into a small pool.
A trail with a small footbridge leads to the falls. And, the park has grills and picnic tables if you want to have an afternoon snack or lunch here.
Bete Grise Wetlands Preserve
After driving around Lac La Belle lake, the road passes through the Bete Grise Wetlands Preserve. It has the best dunes and swale wetlands in the region. A trail system allows you to walk around the dunes and wetlands while enjoying lake views.
Also, the preserve has about 1.5 miles of sandy beach on Lake Superior, which might be the longest on the Keweenaw Peninsula. However, the total lake shoreline is just over 4,000 feet, while the park also lines 1,000 feet of the Mendota Ship Canal.
Brunette Park & Tobacco River Park
There are a couple more roadside parks that you can check out along Gay Lac La Belle Rd. Brunette Park is at just over the halfway point to Gay. You’ll see it on the left with beach access and a beautiful lakeside view.
Tobacco River Park is also on the left after the bridge that crosses the Tobacco River, about 1 mile from Gay. From the bridge, you can see Tobacco River Falls. The park is a great spot to stop before or after heading into town. It has a public beach and a picnic area.
Mohawk Mining Company Smokestack
As you approach Gay Michigan, you’ll see a giant, 265-foot-high concrete smokestack. The base is 13 feet and 4 inches wide, and the stack tapers to 9 feet at the top. Built in 1921 to replace an old 6.5-foot brick-lined steel stack, the smokestack still stands among other remnants of the Mohawk Mining Company.
It’s a huge part of Gay history because the town was settled around the Mohawk and Wolverine stamp mills in 1904. In fact, the Mohawk Mining Company operated the most successful copper mining operation in Keweenaw County in the early 1900s.
Restaurants & Lodging in Lac La Belle & Gay
Lac La Belle Lodge
With five cabins and a four-bedroom house, Lac La Belle Lodge offers more than just a place to stay while exploring fall scenic drives on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The lodge rents docks and boats on the lake too, so it’s a great place for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, and water skiing.
Additionally, the lodge is home to the Bear Belly Pit Stop, which serves wings, sandwich melts, fried fish, barbecue, and more. You can even stock up for a picnic or your entire stay at the lodge’s convenience store.
Wilderness Resort | Lac La Belle
A colorful escape, Wilderness Resort has full-service cabins, motel units, and duplexes. If you want a camping experience, you can get that too — it has 15 sites with various power supply services. The campground features fire rings, picnic tables, and bathroom and shower access.
Nordic Spa at Mount Bohemia | Lac La Belle
For a more upscale lodging experience, stay at Mount Bohemia’s Nordic Spa. The Aqua Log Cabins are situated along Lac La Belle and have screened-in porches that look out over the lake. The spa features a steam cabin, Finnish sauna, hot tub and heated pool, and cool pool and Nordic waterfall.
After a spa day, you can dine on wood-fired pizza at the Log Cabin Bar. There’s also an outdoor fire pit. Mount Bohemia has the North Pole Bar & Restaurant as well, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Live music is scheduled every Friday and Saturday evening.
Gay Bar & Grill
For a bite to eat while you’re in Gay Michigan, there’s no better spot than the Gay Bar & Grill. Actually, the town is famous for this bar because it was originally the home of Clement L. Adams, the stamp mill superintendent.
The building became a social center in the community after he died, and after Prohibition, it became a bar. The food menu includes burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza, fish and seafood, and snacks.
Covered Drive | Houghton to Redridge
For a purely scenic route during the fall, check out the ever-popular Covered Drive between Houghton and Redridge Michigan. It’s located west of Houghton and just off Houghton Canal Road via Coles Creek Rd.
Covered Drive is only about 1.5 car lengths wide, but there are several pull-offs so that vehicles traveling in opposite directions can pass each other. It’s surrounded by colorful trees — like a tunnel of trees out of a movie — and absolutely worth the drive. You could even bike or hike this section of road.
Things to Do on the Covered Drive Journey
Houghton Canal Road
While Covered Drive is the main attraction on this fall scenic route on the Keweenaw Peninsula, Canal Road on the way there is no slouch. It treats you to stunning views of trees, the Lift Bridge, and Hancock across the water.
Redridge Ghost Town
Before you get to the end of Covered Drive, you’ll make a left turn onto Liminga Rd to reach Redridge Michigan. The town was settled in 1905 around the Atlantic & Baltic stamp mills, which were served by the Copper Range Railroad. However, the industry and rails were removed in 1971.
Now considered a ghost town, the main landmark to check out in Redridge is the steel dam. This historic dam stretches across the Salmon Trout River. It was completed in 1901, and it’s believed that it was one of just three steel dams built in the United States. Since it no longer holds back water, a dazzling cascade of water pours over the top.
Restaurants in Houghton MI
Suomi Home Bakery & Restaurant
Before exploring Covered Drive and Redridge, you can get breakfast or a pastry snack at Suomi Home Bakery & Restaurant. This eatery has been making traditional Finnish-style delights for more than four decades — including French toast and pannukakku — a custard-like pancake baked in an oven and served with a sweet raspberry sauce.
Rodeo Mexican Kitchen
For lunch, you can grab some tasty food at Rodeo Mexican Kitchen. The menu includes burritos, bowls, tacos, posole, nachos, and salads with a variety of meat, veggie, and salsa options, as well as side dishes. And, don’t forget to get a piece of cake!
If you’re in the mood for an authentic taste of Chicago, you won’t find better than Chicago Beefs. The restaurant uses fresh ingredients in its famous Chicago Italian beef sandwich, a creation unlike anything else in the world.
Lodging Options Near Covered Drive
The Vault Hotel | Houghton
Make your experience exploring fall scenic drives on the Keweenaw Peninsula sophisticated with a stay at The Vault Hotel. This iconic sandstone building is from the Industrial Revolution era, and the interior is inspired by a massive vault of a historic bank.
Each floor is modernized to bring to life wealthy personas — Old Money, New Money, and Found Money. You’ll see salvaged bank boxes, teller windows, and more throughout the hotel. On the ground level is The Counting Room, a luxury basement fortress that serves handcrafted drinks
Northwinds Adventures | Atlantic Mine
Located on Love Lake Rd between Coles Creek Rd and Liminga Rd, Northwinds Adventures offers six cabins on 220 acres of land. And, each cabin is surrounded by nature and views of the fall colors.
The focal point is the 25-foot-deep Love Lake, which is fed by a natural spring, but there’s also an 8-acre Glacier Marsh. You can enjoy hiking, motorsports like ATVs, and fishing and paddling on the lake.
Explore Multiple Fall Scenic Drives on the Keweenaw Peninsula
No matter where you decide to drive on the Keweenaw Peninsula from late September to early October, your journey will be full of fall foliage. Check out each of the above scenic drives to see as much of the region’s colorful leaves as you can before they’re gone!