The UP in fall is an experience that belongs on every RVers bucketlist. We couldn't have timed it any better. Our fall trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during the first two weeks of October was peak time for fall color.
And although the last few days of or explorations out there saw a stiff North wind off Lake Superior drop the temperatures to early snow flurry cold, the trip to the UP in Fall this year was about as perfect as any RV adventure can go.
With a few differences, though, from previous trips to the Up in Fall.
Here's the video we did of our visit this year to the UP in Fall, that started with a strange fogged-in crossing of the Mackinaw Bridge and ended 10 days later with so many awesome memories that we know we'll be back again next fall:
Michigan's Upper Peninsula has always been a special place to Jennifer and me. We visit it multiple times a year.
We are drawn up there. Maybe it's the wildness. The majestic vistas. The Great Lakes. The wildlife. The people, so distinct and culturally unique that they are proudly known as “Yoopers,” possessing a special pride for their land and a good-natured disdain for those who live in the Lower Peninsula or “below the bridge.”
They kiddingly call those from the Lower Peninsula “trolls.”
Every few years you hear of someone wanting to start a movement to declare the UP a state of its own.
Our Up in Fall visit this year was different
This year's visit was the most unusual one ever. For starters, the day we crossed over was a picture-perfect autumn day, with clear blue skies. Until we got to the five-mile-long “Big Mac” bridge. It was totally fogged in. Check the video to see but in all our many crossings, we've never encountered anything like that.
It was a dense fog bank that limited visibility on the bridge to just a few dozen feet. In Mackinaw City on the southern end of the bridge, it was a beautiful sunny fall day. In St. Ignace, on the UP side of the bridge, it was similarly beautiful.
But the Straits of Mackinac – where Lake Michigan joins Lake Huron -there was massive fog.
In all we did a big circle tour that followed the Lake Huron UP coastline west and then up across the Porcupine Mountains at the far western end of the UP to Lake Superior, whose shoreline we followed back east, stopping all along the way to boondock, sightsee and take in the glorious autumn colors.
The UP in Fall this year was crowded
The COVID-19 pandemic has a lot of people working remotely from their RVs. In the Keweenaw Peninsula in the Northwestern UP, the local tourist council is running a national media campaign urging those remote workers to come there and work. The campaign is working, The Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor and the McLain State Park just south of Calumet, were filled to capacity even midweek when we visited.
Usually, tourist season peaks right after Labor Day.
Not this year.
Unlike any other year, we have visited the UP in Fall, we encountered many more people. The crows around Tahquamenon Falls (see the video) were reminiscent of the 4th of July. We have never seen the falls so crowded. The ranger told us it has been like that all year.
Still, we had no problem finding boondocking spots in state and national forests. The UP is huge and we had no trouble finding dispersed and primitive camping sites wherever we went.
More UP resources
Check out today's UP video to see those awesome fall colors from this year. And if you'd like to check out more of our stories about the UP, click below:
- CLICK HERE to get more info on the 7 Day ADventure Guide we Wrote for the UP
- CLICK HERE for a list of our 10 favorite campgrounds in the UP
- CLICK HERE for another story we did on the Upper Peninsula in fall
- CLICK HERE for Mike's 10 Favorite Places to Visit in the Upper Peninsula
- CLICK HERE for Howling for Wolves in the Upper Peninsula
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