It is time for my annual father-son driving trip and, since my dad will be moving back to California this fall, our last one based in the Midwest. This year’s destination is a new one for me: the upper peninsula of Michigan!
A couple years ago, in the early days of The Royal Tour, I drove around the Michigan “thumb” but have never been past that. So I am excited to finally cross the Mackinac Bridge and see the supposedly beautiful land beyond. Our ultimate destination is one of the hardest national parks to reach in the lower 48 states, Isle Royale, which will be national park number 38 for me. Only 23 to go – plus whatever new ones are added.
Since we are starting from just outside Cincinnati, I won’t bore you with the day or more on each side of the trip getting to and from Michigan. Once there, however, our itinerary looks something like this.
Day One – Ann Arbor to Marquette
Ann Arbor is a cute college town and a good place to stop, so perhaps it will be where we spend a night. This route takes us across to the upper peninsula and to Marquette, a small town on Lake Superior.
Day Two – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
When I drove around the thumb, I was enamored with the amazing vistas of the Great Lakes. Being from California, I am spoiled with views of the Pacific, but the lakes are just as beautiful in their own right. Pictured Rocks looks stunning, with craggy cliffs overlooking Lake Superior, and it will make for some good photo ops for my photography loving dad.
Day Three – Marquette to Copper Harbor
Copper Harbor sits on the tip of the upper peninsula, and is where the ferry to Isle Royale departs. The highlight of this drive will be a stop at Keweenaw National Historic Park to learn a bit about the copper industry that gave the town its name.
Days Four, Five, and Six – Isle Royale National Park
A three hour ferry each way separates us from this haven of wildlife and untouched land. No vehicles are allowed, and there is only one lodge, so it is truly unspoiled territory. I hope to kayak, hike, and enjoy my dad’s birthday. Bonus points if I get to see a moose or wolf, two of the island’s inhabitants.
Days Seven and Eight – Back down
Did we miss anything amazing? Maybe, so as we backtrack we might stop to visit something that looked interesting that we didn’t have time for on the journey up. I’m sure the area is littered with cute towns, gorgeous lakefronts, and oh so many lighthouses!