On our last outing, we took a break at a Michigan Welcome Center and collected a ton of free brouchures. One of them was for the Lake Superior Circle Tour, which has a website at
Has anyone here ever done the full circle ? It is about 1300 miles through Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada. Just looking at the map, Minnesota looks to be the best part of the trip. Michigan actually has the least access to Lake Superior. I'm thinking of planning to make the trip but it looks like it could take 3 days or 3 months. I'd love to get input, from anyone who has made all or part of the tour, regarding things or places that are a "must see".
We did it in two separate trips, several years apart. No question the best part for us was Duluth to the border, along with the Pictured Rocks in the Michigan UP. The Canada portion had some nice attractions, but few places for a big rig to park. Their Provincial Parks didn't meet our needs, but would probably be wonderful for others.
I did the tour on a motorcycle in 1980, does that count?
There is plenty to do and see. Any of the state and provincial parks along the way are worth visiting. The Minnesota state parks on the north shore, the Apostle Islands in WI, the Porcupine Mts in MI and the locks at Sault Ste Marie are all great destinations. I recall staying at several Ontario parks on the Canadian leg, but can't remember which ones.
In MN, you can detour up the Gunflint trail and get a taste of the Boundary Waters Wilderness area, or drive up MN #1 to Ely.
I'd go in summer or early fall (through October). The fall colors are great. It gets cold in Winter.
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We have done the Circle...probably agree that the concentration of cool stuff is Duluth to the border. However as mentioned ther are many great spots, just lots of miles in between. We have enjoyed a lot of neat stuff in many of the smaller towns, takes more time that way. A great trip...
Years ago as a kid I saw the Canada leg. IMO the best part is Sault Ste Marie to Wawa; you get some nice views of the lake, you can see the Pictured Rocks' native petroglyphs, and there's a nice waterfall a bit south of Wawa. The rest is mostly forest, forest, and forest, followed by a bit more forest.
The MN north shore is great; I'm headed there next month. Also planning to kayak a bit at Apostle Islands, visit the Porcupine Mountains SP again, and drive around the Keweenaw Peninsula.
The boat ride along Pictured Rocks (Munising MI) is worth the ticket; we've done that twice.
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We did the tour leaving Ontario and heading to Sault Ste Marie Ontario through the US. We then did the circle starting in the Sault and went north. We took the month of August. Had a fantastic trip. PM me if you want more details. I can look some things up for you from our journals and scrapbooks.
I posted this on another U.P. related thread, but since these are campgrounds on Lake Superior I thought I'd tag them on to your thread.
In the U.P. I would suggest Brimley State Park in the small town of Brimley. This is located about 15 +/- miles west of Sault Ste Marie. It's located right on Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay. Nice beach, clear water, and you can see some of the lake freighters coming and going into the Soo Locks. The sites are nice and grassy too. Further west is the small town of Grand Marais. They have a very nice city campground right on the shore of Lake Superior. I don't believe they take reservations. We'll be there in mid-July. Grand Marais is located about 25 miles straight north of the tiny town of Seney.
Further west of Grand Marais is Munising. There you'll find Pictured Rocks Nat'l Lakeshore. The city has a nice campground located about 2 miles west on M-28. The campground is on the shores of Lake Superior. There is a nice view of Grand Island. Be sure to take the Pictured Rocks cruise. Cruise boats leave the city dock right in downtown. There are plenty of waterfalls in the area too.
Marquette, the largest city in the U.P., doesn't really have much in the way of camping. There is a nice campground about 45 miles west of Marquette along M-28/US-41 on Lake Michigamme (pronounced Mich-e-gomme) called Michigamme Shores Campground. RV Park Reviews.com has all 8-10 ratings and the price is in the mid-30's with FHU's. This is a very large lake in a rural forested area----Beautiful!
To the west and north, at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula (that jut of land that sticks way up into Lake Superior), is Copper Harbor. There is a nice state park there, Fort Wilkins, and a private campground, Lake Fanny Hooe Resort & Campground. The drive up to Copper Harbor, through the Houghton/Hancock area is beautiful. Many views of the lake, rivers, old mines, and lots of trees. The area gets lots of snow during the winter, and I mean LOTS of snow.
The Porcupine Mountains State Park is located south of Ontonagon. If you enjoy hiking you will definitely enjoy the Porkies. There is a state park on the north end, Union Bay, that has electric only and a rustic campground on the south end. I've only camped on the south end because I like the trails around that part. Both campgrounds are near the lake. This is a huge state park. It's considered a wilderness park and has over 60,000 acres, much of it virgin forests.
* This post was
edited 05/15/12 03:46pm by Parrothead Mike *
We did the Circle Tour late summer 2009.
We started by dropping off our son at school in Houghton, MI. We stayed at the Houghton City park right in toen on the river. Full hookups required due to no restrooms. A bit tight. We also have stayed at the Hancock county park west of Hancock along the river, and McClain SP on the west coast of the Keewanaw Pennisula when we have gone back to take him to/from school. Also have stopped at Straits SP in St Ignace (less touristy than the lower side of bridge), and near Seney at Big Cedar CG. Small, on river, canoe livery (enjoyed canoe trip).
Other places we enjoy in the UP as we make our many trips back to school - Lake Muskallong SP east of Grand Marais, Munising City park west of town near the Pictured Rocks - campground on the lake.
Next stop was at the Appostle Islands in Wisc. @ Apostle Islands Area CG (private) very few campers, across road from marina & lake. Wonderful views. Owners said they can be busy with kayackers but we had none while there.
Next was Gooseberry Falls SP in MN. Larger park. No hook ups, large sites with trees seperating each. Wonderful hiking & biking trails along the coast. Waterfalls & lighthouses nearby. Nice park.
Next was Grand MArias City Campground & Marina. On edge of town, can walk into town (path goes through campground to public pool). Overlooks marina. Large cg, more open. Nearby visit the Grand Portage site & waterfalls. Jumping off point to Boundary Waters area.
Next was at Thurder Bay in Ontario at Sleeping Giant Prov. Park. Large park, many sites. We had one near boat ramp - large site with elect. Some areas tight for large rigs. Nice park. Watched the loons.
Next was Pukaskwa National Park on the east shore of Lake Superior. Small campground with electric & nice large sites. Great hiking trails. We loved the park - very different environment than what we experienced elsewhere in UP (due to heavy rains off lake). Nice little coves & bays to explore. Remote though.
Last stop was Ann-Osborne in Sault Ste. Marie in MI. CG along river to watch boats going by. But we were unable to get a site there. Sites off river are open. Nothing special - typical private CG.
What we enjoyed is how the north shore of Lake Superior reminded us of New England coast - many coves & bays & granite cliffs & rugged shoreline. Watch for moose crossings (many signs posted - never saw one). Our best areas were the Northshore in MN, and the National Park in Canada. Crossing the border was no problem - busier back into MI. All 2 lane road so take your time, some wonderful small towns to stop at. We spent a couple of days at Gooseberry & Grand MArias. Wished we stayed more at Pukaskwa & Sleeping Giant. Not many attractions or resorts (water parks, etc) but a lot of the great out of doors. You can get a patch when you completed the tour also.