Isle Royal National Park is a U.S. Biosphere Reserve, as well as the largest island in Lake Superior. The main island is about 45 miles long and 8 and a half miles across at it widest point, and is 99% wilderness. The thick, varied growth of vegetation, dense growths of spruce and balsam fir, and a rugged, craggy coastline creates the park's beauty. Beavers, loons, wolves, moose, red foxes, and snowshoe hares are some of the creatures that live on this island. There are over 160 miles of trails for hiking or backpacking. Canoeing/kayaking is another popular way to explore this island, with various opportunities to camp along the lakeshore. If you own your own canoe/kayak, you may bring it across Lake Superior on the Ranger or you may rent a boat in Rock Harbor. This wilderness experience is open for exploration on foot or by boat from Mid-May through September. If you are planning a trip you should write for information, as this park can be crowded, and has designated wilderness camping areas. The only lodging is the Rock Harbor Lodge and you need to make reservations ahead of time. This lodge is located along the shore of Lake Superior, and offers rooms with private baths and housekeeping cottages. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, you will need to make advance reservations for transportation to the island. Boat service to the island is available at Copper Harbor aboard the Isle Royal Queen for a 4 and a half hour crossing, or from Houghton aboard the park-owned boat, Ranger III, a 5 hour crossing.
For more information on the Ranger, visit www.nps.gov/isro/ranger-iii.htm
Floatplane service is also available from Houghton. Schedules can be obtained from the Park Service Headquarters in Houghton. For inquires about Isle Royal, contact park headquarters at Isle Royal National Park, 800 E. Lakeshore Dr., Houghton, MI 49931.
Visit the historic town of Calumet where a variety of museums will help you to step back in time and explore the Copper Country the way it was in years past. The sandstone church on the right side of the photo is St. Anne’s church, one of the many beautiful churches in Calumet.
Drive to Copper Harbor, which is at the end of the peninsula. Here you will find a delightful little tourist town with a great view of Lake Superior. If you enjoy lighthouses be sure to stop at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse (built in1871) on your way to Copper Harbor. This lighthouse museum is one of the most photographed spots in the Keweenaw. This historic museum complex is the maritime history museum for the entire Keweenaw area. 21 light keepers maintained and operated this light station until 1980 when it was automated. In 1999 the United States Congress transferred ownership of the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse to the Keeweenaw County Historical Society. The museums that you will find at this light station include period furnishings, the history of Eagle Harbor, the old fog signal building and watch building, a Keweenaw mining museum, and a Keweenaw commercial fishing museum. The Coast Guard, however, continues to operate the light at the top of the tower. The museum is open from mid-June to early October. For a closer look at the light see my second photo, and visit the website below.
Lighthouse Address: 670 Lighthouse Road, Eagle Harbor, MI 49950
Visit the Delaware Copper Mine located 12 miles south of Copper Harbor, and 38 miles north of Houghton on U.S. 41. This is an authentic copper mine dating back to 1847-1887. Eight million pounds of copper were removed from its five shafts that reached a depth of 1400 feet. This tour will take you down into the first level of shaft number 1, which is at a depth of 110 feet. Good walking shoes are recommended as well as jackets, as the temperature in the mine is 45 degrees. Since this is a self guided tour, you can spend as little or as long as you like visiting the mine and the ruins around it. I would, however, allow at least 1 hour when visiting the mine. The Delaware Copper Mine is open daily mid-May to mid-October.
Address: 7804 Delaware Mine Road, Delaware, MI 49950
Visit the Houghton County Historical Museum, which is located at 5500 Hwy M-26 in Lake Linden. This museum, also part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park, is packed with exhibits of local copper mining, logging and cultural history. The outdoor displays include the Traprock Valley one room school house, the mineral range train depot used in the 1890s, a caboose, and a number of other interesting historical displays. Photo 2 shows the Traprock Valley School building. This was built in 1914 to house the children of the farm families. It was used to teach children through grade 8 until 1940. You may also see a small, steam tank engine that was acquired in 2002. This type of engine was used in switchyards. This museum is open June through September, and sometimes through October. Since this museum is run by volunteers I would recommend calling before you go to check when it will be open..
The Hanka Homestead, largely unaltered since the early 1900s, preserves the self-reliant Finnish pioneer. This farm has been restored and operates as a museum run by volunteers. The farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the Keweenaw National Park cooperating sites. This museum is open June through August noon to 4:00 P.M. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. This homestead is located eight miles south of Chassell on U.S. 41, turn west on Arnheim Road and follow the signs.
The Houghton County Historical Museum was once the site of the largest copper milling operation in North America. The museum has laid a small section of track that circles an area of ruins from this era, and occasionally offers rides around this loop in cars pulled by the museum’s historic small #3 C & H Porter steam engine. My third photo is of the train station and the cars that visitors ride in. The #3 locomotive burns both hard and soft coal as well as wood. Old #3 was used to haul smelter lag, copper ingots and billets, and mineral concentrate between the C & H mills and the smelter located in Hubbell. In 2007 this train was only run on Sunday afternoons from 12:00 – 4:00. The museum also has a gas/hydraulic Plymouth engine, which operates on Saturdays from 10 AM to 4 PM. as well as sometimes on week-days. Call the museum for more information on when the trains are running.
From Houghton, follow Hwy 41 through Chassell until you see the Citco Gas Station. From Citco drive about 4.2 miles until you come to the top of a hill with a large road sign for the Lower Entry. Turn left (east) onto the Portage Entry Road, and drive about 1.4 miles to the end of the road. Turn left again, driving about a quarter of a mile to the entry park. You will see a brown DNR sign for the Portage Entry Launch Site, and you may spot the outhouse set back along the park’s road. Make a right turn and drive to the small parking area. You will find a boat ramp for small boats, an outhouse, a large cement long dock, and a picnic spot. The entry park is located inside the Keweenaw waterway, and has a sidewalk enabling you to walk along the cement long dock. Here you may see private yachts, commercial fishing boats, or Corps of Engineer work boats. In my last photo you will see our boat, Impulse, tied off for the night after returning from a cruise to Canada. Sometimes, however, there are no boats present, so don’t make seeing boats your main objective for the drive. If you are lucky you may see a yacht or work boat passing through the waterway, such as the tug and barge in my third photo. Looking toward the large Keweenaw Bay of Lake Superior, you can see the South Portage Entry Lighthouse. In photo 4, you will see the tug and its barge approaching the lighthouse. This area was at one time an Ojibwa Indian fishing village, and later this area became an early harbor of safety for boats needing to escape the storms of Lake Superior. Many of the small, commercial boats that you may see here are still owned by Ojibwa Indians. (Photos 1 and 2). Our family has nicknamed these fishing boats Shoe Boats, as their shape reminds us of a shoe. Much of the fresh Lake Trout and Superior Whitefish that you see in many of the local restaurants are caught from this type of fishing boat.
So you would like to visit Isle Royal National Park and need more information. I was hoping to build pages on this, however, although this is a U.S. National Park, it is not available on the Virtual Tourist Map. To help you out I have built two travelogues to give you information that may be of value to you. Here you will find out information such as traveling to the park, hiking, where to stay, where to eat, as well as other helpful tips. See my travelogues Visiting Isle Royal National Park I and II on my Copper Harbor page.
Hungarian Falls is located approx. 15 minutes north east from Houghton, just off of Hwy. 26 in Tamarack City. It is a chain of waterfalls, all within a mile's walk from each other. It is frequented by the university students as it is fairly close to campus.
Jacobsville is a small town located on the northeast corner of the Protage Canal. The town was built to mine a rock deposit known as Jacobsville Sandstone, which is only place in the world it can be found. Along the waterfront are samon colored cliffs with bright white layers running through them (the Jacobsville Sandstone), which looks like a large strip of bacon. The quarry is now out of business, but there is a B&B lighthouse which gives tours and a small city park with a beach that is great for picnics. Be sure to go north of the lighthouse along the beach to catch a glimpse of the cliffs.
Calumet waterworks is a city park on the shore of Lake Superior, just west of Calumet. It has a nice park for kids, picnic areas, and plasces for bonfires. Across the street is the Gardner's Creek Nature Trail which goes through the woods with displays explaining the conservation efforts put in place in the area. The trail is about 2 km long, and is an easy hike. Take Hwy 41 north from Houghton to M-203. Follow M-203 to Lakeshore Drive and you will see the signs a couple miles up.
Things to try to find: Covered Road, which comes out near Redridge; Lily Pond out near the north entry of the Portage Canal (take 203); Brockway Mountain and the Estivant Pines up near Copper Harbor (come on, if you came 500 miles to Houghton, another 40 won't hurt you); Delaware or Quincy Mine tours; the Jampot between Eagle Harbor and Eagle River (run by monks - delicious baked goods!); Great Sand Bay (nice for swimming in August)
Chutes and Ladders is exactly what it sounds like... lots of slides and ladders. But the super cool thing about it is that it isn't just for kids. It was designed so that parents could go with and have fun too. When I turned 20, my boss brought me and all the other students that I was working with to Chutes and Ladders (and then for ice cream - very grown up, I know).
All in all, it is something fun to do for little and big kids.