Great Lakes - Lake Superior
The stunning Great Lakes lie in eight U.S. states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and New York. Outdoor recreation is a way of life along the lakes, and camping is a wildly popular activity. On this driving tour, we'll trek from the great north woods of Minnesota to Apostle Islands in Wisconsin, following the shores of beautiful Lake Superior. Lake Superior is the largest, deepest, coldest, and most pristine of all the Great Lakes.
Begin your tour in the dramatically hilly lake town of Duluth, Minnesota. Duluth is close to Canada, and if you have the time, this makes a great jumping-off point for day trips to Thunder Bay or Quetico Provincial Park. On the Minnesota side of the border, this is a great chance to do some canoeing and kayaking in Voyageurs National Park or to explore the quiet community of Grand Marais.
From Duluth, take Highway 2 south and east along the southern side of the lake. You'll pass through dozens of charming lake communities that are dotted with vacation homes, cabins, and retirement communities. Fishing is a popular sport on every Great Lake, and if you visit in winter you're sure to see the frozen lake dotted with ice fishing shacks and cabins. In the summertime, boating takes center stage. You'll find plenty of sandy beaches, sailboats and power boats, and fishing charters that are ready to take you out in search of the day's catch.
Wisconsin doesn't have as many miles of lake front as some other states, but what it has is particularly spectacular. Take a side trip to the breathtaking Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The Apostle Islands are an archipelago, set off a large spit of land in the western part of Lake Superior. Each of the twenty-one islands is different. Some are purely wild with sandy beaches and woods that look like they've never seen a human footprint. They have names like Cat Island, North Twin, Devils, and Rocky. Madeline Island is the only island that's reachable by car. From there, you can plan a kayak trip to tiny Hermit Island and its bigger brother, Stockton Island.
Heading east, you'll pass into Michigan's spectacular Upper Peninsula. In Wakefield, Michigan, take Highway 28 past Craig Lake State Park to the lake shore town of Marquette. Continue on to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, lakes, forest, and shoreline beckon you at this stunning national park. Hiking, camping, sightseeing, and four season outdoor opportunities abound. The Lakeshore hugs the Lake Superior shoreline for more than 40 miles.
This area is filled with picturesque lighthouses, lake shore trails, and plenty of wildlife. After your tour of Pictured Rocks, continue east to the Tahquamenon Falls State Park and the aptly-named town of Snug Harbor. This is the second largest state park in Michigan. In his "Song of Hiawatha," Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described the Tahquamenon Falls area as undisturbed forests, tranquil rivers, and abundant wildlife. This is still true today. As a state park, it is managed as a wilderness area, dedicated to preserving its natural beauty and recreational opportunities.
From Tahquamenon, continue east to Sault Ste Marie, the eastern-most American stop along the shores of Lake Superior. From here, you can continue your tour of the Great Lakes, or head north into Canada to see Lake Superior's northern side. Whatever you choose to do, you're sure to find more breathtaking views and plenty of wild open spaces. From fishing and boating to hiking, photography, and bird watching, you'll find more than enough to fill your time when you tour these incredible lakes.