Lakes & Beaches
No wait lines, just shorelines. Discover miles of pristine Lake Superior coastal shores and numerous secluded inland lakes. Perfect for those seeking solitude and relaxation. With almost 125 miles of shoreline, you’re always a brief ride from the cool, clear waters of Lake Superior. Best of all, no two beaches are the same. From rocky shorelines (perfect for agate hunting) to sandy beaches (ideal for catching a Lake Superior sunset)–we’ve got you covered. Read on for our recommendations to get the most of your Keweenaw experience.
Head to the eastern edge of the Keweenaw Peninsula to enjoy a beautiful Lake Superior sunrise. But you’ll need to be an early riser if you hope to catch it. In July, the sun rises as early as 6 am! But if you make the effort, you’ll be rewarded with golden skies mixed with dazzling hues of red and purple over sparkling waters.
What’s more relaxing than a yoga session on the shores of a calm inland lake or sand Lake Superior beach? After catching the sunrise, grab your yoga mat and make your way to a secluded spot for some self-reflection and quiet. The natural setting and sounds are perfect to help find your inner focus and (temporarily) escape from the daily grind waiting for you at the end of your visit. If you prefer a group setting check out Mount Bohemia’s Summer Resort which offers yoga instruction on the shore of Lac La Belle or grab a class from Fresh Coast Yoga in Houghton.
If you have a young family (and for those young at heart), beaches and lakes provide endless hours of free entertainment. Whether it’s splashing in the waves, rocking picking, or picnicking on the sands, there’s a lot to do. With that said, if you do have a kiddo (or three) in tow, you’ll want to check out some or our unique beach-side parks starting with Chutes & Ladders (Ray Kestner Park) in Houghton.
This park, nicknamed after the old board game, is a kids’ wonderland with slides, towers, swings, green space AND sandy shorelines. Heck, even if you’re not under the age of 12, it’s hard to resist the temptation not to try out one of the tube slides (note: those of us a little long in the tooth, it’s a bit tough on the knee joints to craw through some of these tubes). Even better, you can rent a road bike, kayak, or paddleboard from Portage Paddle Sports which is located on-site and offers tasty treats during the summer.
Agate hunting is part science and part art. It takes a keen eye and some luck to find these beautiful geological treasurers, but there are some helpful strategies to increase your chances. You’ll find the Keweenaw’s western beaches (south of Eagle Harbor) better suited for agate hunting because the shores are abundantly covered in wave-smoothed, small rocks, and minerals. According to Superior Trails, Agate Beach, Misery Bay Beach, McLain State Park, and Calumet Waterworks Park are great places to find agates. Gratiot River County Park north of Calumet is also a good location. If you come across quartz or chert while on your search, you’ve found a good site. Anyone interested in minerals needs to visit the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum in Houghton which has more than 2,000 specimens on display and serves as the state of Michigan’s official mineral museum.
The Keweenaw is home to three state parks and Isle Royale National Park which offer visitors access to Lake Superior and inland lake beaches. Each offers a unique “shoreline” experience. Twin Lakes State Park‘s sandy shores and calm inland lake waters are perfect for pontoons, paddle craft, and fishing. The shallow waters warm more quickly than Lake Superior which makes for good swimming conditions. Plus, the on beach playground offers additional recreation opportunities for young children. McLain State Park rests on the shores of Lake Superior with rockier shorelines to explore which are excellent for beachcombing. And Fort Wilkins State Park borders Lake Fanny Hooe. During the summer you’ll find “actors” at the park who explain how the former fort’s soldiers lived and used the lake for recreation and survival. Isle Royale is world-renowned for its rocky shorelines covered by conifers able to withstand the gales of Lake Superior despite shallow soils.
Now that the sun has (nearly) set, it’s prime Yooperlite hunting conditions. Yooperlites are rocks embedded with a fluorescent mineral called sodalite which glows under UV light. To find these unique keepsakes, you’ll need to hunt for them using a special UV flashlight along rocky Superior shorelines during dusk or at night. You can purchase these special UV flashlights online or at Calumet Mercantile in Calumet. Simply scan the ground with your light and watch for orange/yellowish light emanating from the stones. Pro tip: Save your back by investing in a flashlight with a lot of lumens…the brighter and more powerful the flashlight beam, the less stooping you’ll have to do.
Head to the western shores on the Keweenaw Peninsula to capture spectacular sunsets over Lake Superior. In peak summer the sun doesn’t dip below the horizon until late in the evening (after 11 pm when near solstice), so enjoy several relaxing hours along the shores. Be sure to bring an extra layer of warm clothing or a blank (the shorelines can get a little chilly at night) and camping chairs. They’ll be plenty of dry kindling around to start the necessary campfire for s’mores. But stop by a local gas station for a pack of campfire wood just to play it safe.
The shores of Lake Superior are perfect for stargazing on a clear night sky. In fact, the Keweenaw has some of the best venues for dark sky viewing, particularly if you want to see the Northern Lights. Just ask astrophotographer Nate Bett. Many of the northern beaches (like Esrey Park, Great Sand Bay, Horseshoe Harbor, Calumet Waterworks, and Breakers Park) are prime spots for stargazing and aurora hunting. While Mother Nature controls the show, a night staring into the cosmos is a memorable way to end the day.
15223 US Highway 41
Copper Harbor, MI 49918 US