In the autumn, many Midwesterners head up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) to tour the fall colors. During such a drive, we discovered that Michigan also offers the most shipwreck-tourism around all of Lake Superior.
Your shipwreck education begins at Marquette, Michigan, home of the Marquette Maritime Museum and Lighthouse. https://mqtmaritimemuseum.com/ Marquette is a lively college town with unique restaurants and delightful shops. The museum boasts the largest lighthouse lens collection on the Great Lakes. It’s also the base for Stannard’s Rock Lighthouse, the most expensive and challenging lighthouse built on all the Great Lakes. At 44 miles out from land, it is the most distant lighthouse from land on the entire continent.
Your next stop is Munising, Michigan, home of the Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tour. During a three hour ride that also highlights the lighthouse on Grand Island, this tour focuses on three separate shipwrecks. You’ll learn the history of the ships, how they went down and how they were discovered. The company also offers diving tours. Lake Superior is home to some of the most dangerous dives in the world due to the extreme cold and the depth of the wrecks.
Munising hugs the west side of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – 40 miles of multi-colored cliffs and caves created by the continuous waves crashing against the soft sandstone. Activities include kayaking caves, hiking to waterfalls, beach combing for agates and sunset boat tours of the shoreline. This is a perfect place to camp.
Grand Marais, MI hugs the east side of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Although not shipwreck-related, you’ll naturally want to stop at the Pickle Barrel Museum to stretch your legs.
Your destination is Whitefish Point, a finger of land jetting into the lake. At the end of the point is the Shipwreck Museum which displays the bell of the famous Edmund Fitzgerald. http://www.shipwreckmuseum.com/. The museum effectively highlights the fact that Lake Superior is one of the most dangerous bodies of freshwater in the world with over 350 recorded shipwrecks and over 1000 deaths. You can stay at Whitefish Point Light Station for $150/night. A quarterly publication of the Shipwreck Journal is thrown into the deal. Whitefish Point offers powder sand beaches, pristine camping and inexpensive cabins.
During this lovely drive you’ll see sand, colorful maples and the blinding blue of the lake. You’ll leave with a deeper respect for the lake and its hearty people. Fair warning: it may also inspire you to take up scuba diving!