Travelers have lots of reasons to seek out local guides and outfitters to host their adventuring. A major benefit of having a guide is getting the insider’s scoop. Guides both work and play in the place they love, and what they love most is sharing the Keweenaw with others. As one lead tour guide from the Keweenaw Adventure Company summed up, “I genuinely want visitors to love the Keweenaw as much as I do, and I’ll stop at nothing to convince them! I will give them lots of facts and suggestions for beautiful places to go.”
With that, we thought it would be fun to compile these, “Top Travel (& Extra Safety) Tips from Adventure Guides in Copper Harbor, Michigan!”
#1 Travel Tip – Soak in the best of Lake Superior’s scenery from the cockpit of a sea kayak.
Carved from a dramatic story of fire and ice, Lake Superior is a massive salt-free (and shark-free!) inland sea in which, “you can fit all of the other Great Lakes plus another Lake Erie volume of water inside of” – one fact-filled guide likes to point out.
While it may be pretty and serene to look-out at the lake from the shoreline, it’s a whole different perspective from on-the-lake. A sea kayak literally puts you at water level, making you feel “at one” with the BIG lake. Gain the ability to weave in and out of spectacular barrier islands and finger bays alongside spiny ridgelines and lava flow reefs and under the iconic “arch rock” of Agate Harbor.
Sunsets are particularly spectacular from the cockpit of a sea kayak. On a beginner-friendly Sunset Paddle departing from Copper Harbor, paddlers may bid farewell to the day as the sun drops into the freshwater sea. As one sea kayak guide says it best, “The most glamorous part of my job is those perfectly calm sunset kayak tours where the sky and the water are a mix of oranges, pinks, and purples and the whole group takes a break to just soak it in for a moment.”
Extra Safety Tip: Lake Superior can change her mood in short order and paddlers must be aware of the risks, be prepared with the proper equipment, know their personal abilities, skills and limitations and keep a keen eye on the current marine forecast and changing weather conditions to ensure for a fun and safe time. If you choose to venture out on your own, without the expertise and accompaniment of a professional tour guide, make sure to check out Being Prepared for Kayaking on Lake Superior.
#2 Travel Tip – Ditch the car and traverse in and around Copper Harbor in the saddle of a mountain bike.
Staying in the wholesome town of Copper Harbor truly affords one the opportunity of a car-less vacation. One can simply walk or ride a bike from their overnight accommodations to a favorite breakfast joint (see #4 Travel Tip!) to an array of artisan galleries and gift shops to multiple trails and lakeside access points.
A renowned mountain biking destination, the Copper Harbor Trails Club maintains over 40-miles of epic singletrack trails, which range from easy to expert in ridability. Start pedaling and discover grand vista views from Brockway Mountain and explore historic locations, waterfalls, and old-growth forests. Or embark on a journey to an uninhabited Lake Superior shoreline at the far tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, a ride highly recommended by one mountain bike tour guide — “My not-on-the-clock looks a lot like my on-the-clock, I do a lot of bike riding… One of my favorite rides is taking the Keweenaw Point Trail out to High Rock Bay.” Looking for beginner-level and kid-friendly trails? Check out the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge’s singletrack summer trails!
Extra Safety Tip: Those with their own bikes are strongly encouraged to take Trail Safety & Etiquette to heart, as are more novice riders looking to hit the trails for the first time.
#3 Travel Tip – Didn’t do your homework? Let a tour guide share their expertise and really bring the woods and waters to life for you.
“Every time I can help someone have an unforgettable moment in the great outdoors it brings me incredible satisfaction and joy,” replied a tour guide when asked their favorite part of the job. Part of providing such an unforgettable moment is giving the proper context to an experience, e.g. the behind-the-scenes tale to a breathtaking backdrop or scenic sight.
For instance, a mere rock outcropping might mean more to you if you knew it was billions of years old and a remnant of the largest lava flow on earth. And an uninhabited landscape might really come-to-life if you’re aware of the vibrant human history, including ancient indigenous miners to an array of immigrant, maritime, and settler stories.
A guide trained in interpretation and storytelling will save you hours of research and ensure that your group discovers unique and beautiful places off-the-beaten-path. A guide can personalize a tour to your particular needs and interest, guaranteeing a positive and memorable experience, and as one tour guide mentioned, “I always enjoy making people laugh and smile so I always make sure the people I am helping are having a great time with a smile on their face.”
Extra Safety Tip: If going-it-alone is more your adventure-style, do your homework — particularly when it comes to safety protocol and the location you plan to explore. Consider carrying a GPS Device and/or VHF Weather Radio in the Keweenaw Peninsula, as many areas are remote with zero cell service.
#4 Travel Tip – After working up an appetite adventuring, go where the guides’ go for their Copper Harbor eats and treats…
While a quick “pasty on a porch” is a favorite go-to for some guides (note: a “pasty” is the original Hotpocket!), hitting the local cafes, restaurants, and micro-brewery, is always a fun thing to do after a full day on the lake or riding the trails.
Asked to describe their perfect day, one tour guide exclaimed, “Coffee and a thimbleberry turnover at Jamsen’s Fish Market & Bakery, followed by a bike ride on the epic trails, kayaking on the big lake, and fish tacos with a cold one at the Brickside Brewery.”
Blog Contributor – The Keweenaw Adventure Company has the mission to connect people with awe and respect to the region. Their professional and passionate staff are trained in risk-management and interpretation (from the geology to history to economics of our region) — and have been introducing visitors to the pristine natural areas and culturally rich heritage of the Keweenaw Peninsula and Isle Royale for over two-and-a-half-decades.