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Michigan’s UP in the fall and Twelvemile Beach

| Updated Nov 6, 2021

This is the time to “come up to da UP,” as the Yoopers like to say.


The flies and mosquitoes are gone, so are the crowds and the whole peninsula is bursting with bright yellows and reds as the annual fall foliage change explodes the hardwoods into jaw-dropping displays.

And the sunsets are to die for.

Sunset from our campsite at Twelvemile Beach

This year, the color change is later than normal. We came up last Thursday and it was just starting. As we head back downstate today five days later, it's clear that its moving fast now. This coming weekend and next should be peak times. Jennifer and I love the UP. This is our third extended trip up here since February.

Color is everywhere, the trees are changing fast

Yeas, that's right. I said February. we drove the Roadtrek up and camped out at Tahquamenon Falls with 28 inches of snow on the ground and minus 8 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. No problem. You can see what that was like here.

And we came back up a couple of months ago during peak bug and biting fly time. It was still beautiful – as this shows – but much more uncomfortable.

This trip is our favorite. And we used it to visit our favorite campground – the beautiful Twelvemile Beach National Parks Service campground on Lake Superior, part of the Pictured Rocks National Seashore. Located 15 miles west of Grand Marais off Alger County Road H-58, this no-hookup 36-site campground is  located on a high sandy plateau above Twelvemile Beach, one of the most remote and beautiful stretches of Lake Superior you will find anywhere in the UP. Half the sites are generator free and that's where we headed, selecting site #25.

You can walk and hike for miles along Lake Superior. This is Twelvemile BNeach, right in front of our campsite

With our all electric Roadtrek eTrek and its solar power, we needed no such noisy power source.

It got cold. The first frost warning of the year for the UP was issued last night. When I got up at 3 AM to use the bathroom, the outside temp read 35 degrees. Our Webosto heater was adjusted to give us a perfect 62 degree inside temp.

Our campsite at Twelvemile Beach Campground

This is a very hard park to get into – during the summer. This late into September, we had lots of lakefront spots to choose from. This is bear country. So if you come here, keep a neat campsite and use the bearproof  food storage units.

There are pit toilets here, fire rings and picnic tables. The campground connects to several hiking trails.

Over the next few weeks, well have reviews and stories about various places to visit up here that will help you plan a trip to the UP next year. But if you want to squeeze in a trip yet this season, better hurry. Most campgrounds shut down for the winter in October. Some, like Twelvemile Beach, shut down Oct. 1.



Mike Wendland

Published on 2013-09-23

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

10 Responses to “Michigan’s UP in the fall and Twelvemile Beach”

September 01, 2014at9:39 am, Bob Ross said:

We don’t leave PA on our annual transcon to CA in our RT170V until last week of October. Certainly there must be some public (USFS or NPS) campgrounds still open until Halloween in the UP? A few years ago we found primitive campsites still available in the Boundary Waters of MN at same time of year. Appreciate hearing of any anyone knows about and where. Thanks, Bob and Dianne.

September 01, 2014at9:35 am, Teresa carr said:

Mike…just moved our grandson into Michigan Tech in Houghton Mi. Spent over a week camping at City of Houghton RV Park located on the Portage river overlooking the bridge to Hancock. Each campsite has 30 or 50 amp sewer and elec. Also a covered de K along with picnic table and a bench. Fire pit also. Nearby is a swimming beach playground Pavillion along with miles of walking biking paths alot g the river. Dining…Joeys Seafood and Grill was awesome, also a bakery/deli by the river serving also gluten free products. Love love the drive on 26 from Eagle Harbour to Copper Harbour which I enjoyed shopping picking up some original gifts! Cannot wait to go back I p in a couple of weeks to visit.

September 25, 2013at9:53 pm, Bill Sprague said:

Wow Mike! Just breathtaking!


September 24, 2013at9:47 pm, Dennis Crabtree said:

As usual, beautiful photos that truly captured the amazing special atmosphere of the UP’s Autumn offerings. We really appreciated you & Jennifer making the effort to catch up with us at Copper Harbor’s Ft Wilkins SP. Just wish we could have enjoyed more time with you two. We’re now camped for 3 days at Muskegon State Park’s Lake Michigan Campground in the dunes. All the best my friend!

September 23, 2013at11:35 pm, Kay Brown said:

We loved it there in the U.P. this summer. Spent 6 weeks in Brimley. Left our Diesel Pusher in a campground and drove our Suburban and toured all the places that you mentioned… We love it up there and will go back… starting to get pretty chilly up there too I imagine.

September 23, 2013at5:05 pm, Mike Wendland said:

Ellie… food INSIDE a Roadtrek is fine in bear country…
Anne… H58 is a beautiful road, winding, scenic and wild. Now that it is paved all the way from Munising to Grand Marais, it is our preferred route over M28. I just wish they plowed it all the way in winter!

September 23, 2013at4:08 pm, Ellie said:

Mike, did you keep your food in the RT? Or put in bear proof lockers? When in Yosemite last year the Ranger was telling folks to put food in the bear proof lockers.

September 23, 2013at3:47 pm, Rich and Veronica said:

It looks like a beautiful time to visit. We will have to make sure we check it out. The colors here in the Northeast are also starting to change, another beautiful time of year!

My DW and I have visited Michigan a few years back in the summer. We were up by Alpena the town where my father was born in what we thought was the Upper Peninsula. From your tracking map I see that you are way up there and definitely it is on my radar for a visit. We were really blown away by the sweet smelling fresh air, which we attributed to Michigan being surrounded by lakes, it smelled delicious.

My father and of course my grandparents and children were from Saginaw, Michigan. After my fathers passing we went to the house he was raised along with visiting a piece of property that is in the family just south of Higgins Lake. We did not have time to go as far north as you are writing about but hope to soon, it is beautiful. We can only imagine the smell of the fresh air there!

Possibly we will pass in our jouneys.

September 23, 2013at3:00 pm, Anne said:

12 Mile Beach is a favorite campground of mine as well as Hurricane River, Upper and Lower campgrounds. The birch grove ablaze with color going into 12 mile beach is worth the drive alone!! There’s nothing like the U.P and I am so proud to call myself a ” born and bred Yooper.” Do yourself a favor and take H58 out of Munising up to Grand Marais. The scenery is breathtaking and life changing anytime of the year but Fall is especially spectacular! There’s a reason why they we call Her, Superior. 🙂

September 23, 2013at2:06 pm, Nancy said:

Beautiful color! Thanks for sharing.

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