UP Winter Road Trip - The Awesome Mitten
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Michigan Bucket List: Best Stops on a Winter Upper Peninsula Road Trip

With bitter cold and whipping winds, sometimes it seems like an Upper Peninsula winter road trip is impossible in Michigan. However, winter is actually the perfect time to go explore something out of the ordinary, and there are lots of things to do in the winter in Michigan. If you’re not sure where to start, no worries – we’ve put together some Michigan winter road trip ideas for exploring the Upper Peninsula.

Upper Peninsula Winter Road Trip Destinations

Whether you’re looking for a winter destination in Michigan or you’re looking to do a full winter road trip in Michigan, there are many potential winter places to visit in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Here are a few of our favorite winter locations in Michigan – perfect for capturing winter photos in Michigan or filling your belly full of local Michigan restaurant cuisine.

Stop #1: The Mighty Mac

Picture opportunities in the winter at the Mackinaw Bridge are one-of-a-kind. The ice gives the option of venturing out further than normal to capture the perfect angle of the state’s most iconic landmark.

Stop #2: Epoufette Bay View Restaurant

UP Winter Road Trip - The Awesome Mitten
Epoufette Bay View restaurant in the winter. Photo courtesy of Epoufette Bay View Facebook page

About 30 miles west of the bridge along U.S. 2 is the small town, Epoufette. The town has a small diner that provides stunning views from a high bluff above Lake Michigan. Enjoy the view with a nice cup of coffee in the restaurant designed to feel just like the family cabin.

Stop #3: Frozen Waterfall: Munising Falls

As I’m sure you can tell from the name, these glorious falls are located in Munising. The water of the falls freezes completely solid during the winter, creating a large ice column! On a trip to the falls, I was able to walk directly up to the would-be-flowing water and casually rest against it. It’s a great photo op and a way to see nature from a different perspective.

Stop #4: Grand Island Ice Caves

UP Winter Road Trip - The Awesome Mitten
Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

I recommend that you put on all the layers you can find and strap on the snow boots for this one. It requires a bit of ice-hiking across Lake Superior, but the caves are completely awe-inspiring. The massive icicles tower stories above the lake and visitors are able to weave in and out of tunnels and caves for over half-a-mile.

Stop #5: Eben Ice Caves

UP Winter Road Trip - The Awesome Mitten
Eben ice caves in the winter. Photo courtesy of Life in the Northwoods

Located in between Munising and Marquette off of U.S. 94, there are more impressive ice caves. Not as big as Grand Island, but more enclosed that gives the feeling of an actual cave. Be sure you are stocked up on fuel before heading out, the last thing anyone wants is to run out of gas in an area with no reception and no gas stations!

Stop #6: Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain overlooking Marquette and Lake Superior cannot be missed! The hike is great even in the winter and gives a stunning 360-degree view of Pure Michigan beauty.

Plan a Winter Weekend Getaway to the Upper Peninsula

This entire trip can be done in one weekend, no matter where you are located in the state (I traveled from Lansing). The scenes are beautiful and it will leave you wondering why you haven’t explored more of Michigan this time of year, I promise. Some might even say that it’s the best road trip in Michigan! Plus, there are several unique places to stay during your winter weekend getaway in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and you’ll get some great Michigan winter photos.

Also, please don’t think that it’s too late to get your explorations started this winter because Grand Island’s ice caves just became accessible by crossing Lake Superior a couple of weeks ago. The best time to explore is the beginning of March, so grab your friends, family, or pets and take off for an unforgettable weekend to experience the breathtaking Upper Peninsula while it’s still coated with a blanket of snow. You’ll regret missing out once summer comes along!

Where are your favorite places to explore in the Upper Peninsula during the winter?


Original article was contributed by Shalee Blackmer and was published on Awesome Mitten on February 25th, 2015. It has since been updated for accuracy.

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