The U.S. state of Michigan is made up of two major peninsulas. The Upper Peninsula (UP), is the northern of the two. In my opinion, the best weekend to go camping in Michigan’s UP eastern region is during the fall. There are endless adventures when the trees are bursting with bright colors. Camping in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is also eco-friendly! As sustainable travelers we try to stick close to home for mini staycations throughout the year. Camping in Michigan is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and travel responsibly.
I hope you enjoy my guide to The Perfect Weekend Camping in Michigan’s UP Eastern Region edition!
When to Visit
Depending on what type of adventure you are looking to have, you will want to plan your visit around the right time of year. My favorite season to visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is during the fall. The bright colored fall leaves are breathtaking and will leave you in awe as you explore hiking trails.
If you want warmer weather, I would recommend mid – late August. The coldest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior are at the warmest temps of the year. The summer sun heats up the massive Great Lake making it around 65 F / 16 C degrees. High compared to the annual average of 40 F / 8 C.
LOCAL TIP: Peak black + stable fly season in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is usually from mid-May to mid-August but the number of species we have means one can enjoy them well into August and early September if you are in the right place. The adult flies live for about two to three weeks
How to Get to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
The nearest major airport to Michigan’s East Upper Peninsula is Chippewa County International Airport. The airport is about 35 minutes from the Mackinac Bridge. Unfortunately it is not as budget friendly as Flint Bishop International Airport or Detroit DTW. Flights are limited, and the airport is small. If you’re planning to park at your departure airport, save time by making a parking reservation.
Michigan Upper Peninsula Road Trip Map
Where To Camp in Eastern Upper Peninsula Michigan
Want to go camping but don’t own a tent or RV or want to pack a little lighter? There are many overnight lodging options available in state parks and recreation areas from cabins, yurts and safari-style tents to lodges and cottages with many of the amenities of home. There are pop-up campers, cottages and tepees too!
Brimley State Park
One of the oldest state parks in the UP, Brimley State Park in Michigan provides plenty of recreational activities such as boating, kayaking, swimming, camping, and hiking along the beautiful shore of Lake Superior Whitefish Bay. The campground is modern with 237 electric sites & showers available. There are also mini cabins you can stay in!
- LOCATION: 9200 W 6 Mile Road Brimley, Michigan, 49715 USA
- PHONE: (906) 248-342
Our gift the first morning was waking up to a snow covered tent… in October. Really neither of us were surprised…welcome to The UP.
It was the end of the season in late October, we had JUST made it to see the fall colors. It was the last weekend the campground was open, and we were the only ones crazy enough to be camping that late in the season. We camped directly on Lake Superior at Brimley State Park, one of the oldest parks in the UP. In typical Logan/Chelsea fashion we arrived at our campsite in the dark. Setting up at night was never a concern of mine, in fact I kind of like it… waking up in a new place, really seeing it for the first time that morning. It’s like a surprise, or a present waiting to be unwrapped.
Made up of over 48,000 acres this state park has 17 miles of hiking around the Tahquamenon River. The most popular attraction of the park is the Upper Falls. At over 200’ across and with a 50′ drop, the Upper Falls is the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.
- Location: 41382 W M-123 Paradise, Michigan, 49768 USA
- Phone: (248) 492-3415
Whether you are planning to camp or not – Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a must see you won’t want to miss. The Upper Falls are over 200′ across and a 50; drop, making it one of the largest waterfalls this side of the Mississippi. The beautiful rust colored falls get their color from leached tannins of the cedar swamps which the river drains. Explore the park, do some hiking, and stop at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub for some food & locally made beer!
Each morning we woke up freezing because we didn’t pack the right gear for color weather camping. In desperate need of caffeine we went in search of coffee, unfortunately there were very limited options in the rural area of Brimley. We fueled up and hit the road, enjoying the views as we sipped our way back to warmth.
Pro Local Tip: Take the scenic route along W Lakeshore Dr on your way to Tahquamenon Falls. This route will take you along Whitefish Bay giving you gorgeous lake views and the opportunity to see a lighthouse!
Visit Point Iroquois Lighthouse
Just a short 15 minute drive from Brimley, this historic lighthouse is worth the stop. The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic back in 1975. Its name meaning “Place of Iroquois Bones” derived from a battle fought back in 1662 by local Native Americans of the Chippewa and Iroquois. The lighthouse was closed for the season so we couldn’t climb the tower but we were able to explore the grounds.
The Whitefish Point Lighthouse is the oldest and arguably most important lighthouse operating light on Lake Superior. All marine vessels entering and leaving Lake Superior must pass the light. Whitefish Point is located at the extreme southeastern end of Lake Superior which is a critical turning point for entering and exiting Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes.
Today, the Whitefish Point Light is the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior. The current light tower was constructed in 1861 during Abraham Lincoln’s administration.
Whitefish Point marks the eastern end of the notorious 80-mile stretch of shoreline heading west to Munising. Which is ominously known as Lake Superior’s “Shipwreck Coast”.
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is quickly becoming one of Michigan’s most popular destinations in the cultural tourism industry.
Of the 550 known major shipwrecks lying on the bottom of the lake, at least 200 are along the “Shipwreck Coast” in the vicinity of Whitefish Point. The primary causes of shipwreck here are stress of weather and collision; the 1975 loss of the steamer Edmund Fitzgerald with her entire crew of 29 has become a world-wide legend. The wreck of the Fitzgerald lies just 15 miles northwest of Whitefish Point.
The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes freighter that sank in Lake Superior during a storm on November 10, 1975. The entire crew of 29 men were lost at sea. When the Fitzgerald launched on June 7, 1958, she was the largest ship on North America’s Great Lakes. To this day she remains the largest ship to have sunk in the Great Lakes.
Museum Admission Prices
- Adults: $13.00
- Children 17 and under: $9.00
- Children under 5: FREE
- Family, 2 adults and 2 or more children: $40.00
- Single Family, 1 adult and 2 or more children: $30.00
If you have more time in the eastern UP, take a boat tour of the famous Soo Locks!
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More Incredible Michigan Weekend Adventures!
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in located Empire Michigan. Add this gorgeous area to your bucket list.
Another Perfect Weekend spent exploring Michigan’s incredible west coast. Camping and lighthouse hunting along the shores of Lake Michigan.
Cranbrook Botanical Gardens are located in Birmingham, Michigan as a registered Historic National Landmark filled with amazing history.