1. Pictured Rocks
2. Traverse City & Sleeping Bear Dunes
3. Mackinac Island
4. Grand Rapids
Also known as the porkies, these mountains are covered in forests, rich in waterfalls, most of which are short quarter mile hikes from the parking lot. The porkies is a bit more off-the-beaten path part of the UP. I found it was a perfect stop traveling from Pictured Rocks to the Apostle Islands. It’s a great spot if you really want quiet, camping, and hiking. There aren’t really any towns except for Ironwood, which is a decent place to stay if you’re looking to stay in a town with restaurants and lodging. As for the attractions, There were two really beautiful areas I enjoyed. The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Area has a visitors center that will acclimate you to the area as well as the Lake of the Clouds with sweeping views and Bonanza Falls on the east side. There are also some other waterfalls on the west side. The Black River National Forest Scenic Byway was not only a lovely, relaxing drive, but had some awesome waterfalls and forest hikes, including Great Conglomerate Falls, Potawatomi & Gorge Falls, Sandstone Falls, and Rainbow Falls. The road will leave you at Black River Harbor. This was probably my favorite scenic drive and waterfall experience of my Midwest road trip. Another favorite waterfall, Bond Falls, is farther southeast and not to be missed. This is just a portion of the waterfalls I made it to, but there are even more scattered across the western UP.
- Accommodations. I was told that during the peak season in summer, accommodations book up fast. Normally I would not book too far in advance for a trip like this, but waiting runs the risk of not finding a place to stay or paying through the nose. This goes for hotels, lodges, AirBnBs, campgrounds, and RV parks.
- Northern Lights. I've read it's possible to see the northern lights from the upper part of the lower portion of Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. I would expect in the fall or winter where there is more darkness.