Winter is fast approaching. Most places in Michigan have already had their first snowfall or two. Of course, Pure Michigan, it disappeared within a few days – going from 30 something to 50 with 72 hours. Most Michiganders probably resent the snow and dream of going south. And, I can’t say that I have never said such a thing. However, there are numerous outdoor activities and places to visit during the winter months!
Last year, my adventure partner and I made a last minute decision to take on the Upper Peninsula. I have only ever crossed the Mackinac Bridge once, probably 10+ years ago. We kept seeing pictures of the infamous “ice caves” on our social media feeds. I had always wondered where they were and what I had to do to see them. With research, we made it happen – all in a little less than 72 hours!
With that, let me share with you my adventure, as well as give you pointers on how to make the most out of an upcoming wintery Pure Michigan weekend. I’ll call this specific weekend the “ADAMAC take on the U.P.” adventure. (ADAMAC, my adventure partner and I’s names together 😉 )
We knew what we wanted to do and see. First, we wanted to see some frozen waterfalls and ice caves. Then, we wanted to try and hit a ski/snowboard resort. One cool thing I’ve never done was used #puremichigan or #icecaves on Instagram to help me research a staycation. We looked up pictures on Instagram that fellow adventurers had taken and asked them what specific locations they were taken and how to get there. After we had the information, we knew the general area we wanted to be, Munising – where Pictured Rocks is. Specifically, we were informed the best caves to see would be on Grand Island, a mile and a half or so hike across Lake Superior. We knew we wanted to snowboard too, but didn’t know the best places. That’s where Google came in. There were a couple locations, but due to my skill level, we ended up at Marquette Mountain. In conclusion, we researched immensely before we made any split decisions. We made sure to make a list so that we were able to see all the spots we wanted to see.
Next came figuring out where to stay. We knew the drive was going to be at least 6-7 hours, 10 for me from Kalamazoo. Did we want to do it one day or split it up? We found two hotels to stay at; both for less than $100. I used Expedia.com to do research and book the hotels. We decided to make it a late night and drive to Mackinac City, then wake up before 8 AM and make our excursion to Munising and Marquette. We were able to find two places that offered complimentary breakfasts, which made our travels even cheaper. Another thing we did to save money was to hit the store on our way out of town so that we could make sandwiches and buy snacks so that we were not spending tons of money on food.
We made it to Munising by noonish that day, allowing for a couple hour adventure between Munising Falls and the Grand Island Ice Caves before heading to Marquette Mountain. I highly recommend printing your directions and bringing toilet paper; there is lack of cell phone service…and bathrooms. In addition, we stayed on the outskirts of Marquette and had to taxi into the city because the “downtown” hotels were booked. So, if you can stay in the downtown area, you should.
As far as packing goes, pack light. But, make sure to bring all of your snow gear. I highly recommend bringing snowshoes for the hike across Lake Superior, but there are snowmobiles you can rent if you do not want to make the walk. Make sure to bring multiple pairs of socks and gloves if you can. The wind is bad going across the lake, even on a good day like ours.
After our sightseeing excursions, we decided we wanted to go to Marquette Mountain. I think we were able to use our college IDs for a discount, or we made it after a certain time and there were discounted tickets. This is something you should look for, as it will save you money on your trip. It is also important to note that Marquette Mountain does not necessarily offer beginner hills. I got to the top and realized it was a little greater than my skill level. However, I manager a few good runs, despite bringing my partner down off the lift a couple of times. Hehe. The coolest thing about Marquette Mountain is that it offers little shacks on the sides of the mountain for shredders to lounge, have a fire, drink a beer, etc. It was a beautiful day and we had an awesome sunset on the west side of the resort.
Marquette offers a unique nightlife experience. We were so tired by the end of our day that we were only able to hit one brewpub and dive bar. Some locals recommended these places as they were born and raised in Marquette. We also received some tips from one of my stepsisters who went to the college in Marquette.
The hardest part of the trip, is making the drive home. We packed so many activities into just the little amount of time we had. But, we did it. Don’t say I didn’t fair warn you of the exhaustion that will come with the drive on Sunday morning/afternoon. Make a couple stops and some of the cool stores on the way home and if you can find pasties, get one!