The best ways to explore Lake Superior

Lake Superior offers almost endless options for exploration in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula, whether you’re taking a scenic stroll along the beach, hunting for agates or Yooperlites on the shore, or paddling out into the crystal-clear water. Here’s a look at just a few ways to experience the greatest of the Great Lakes.


The Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County are home to some wonderful beaches along the southern shore of Lake Superior in the western U.P. They’re the perfect place to dip your toes (or take a dive if you want to brace the often-cold water), go on a stroll, or take in a stunning sunset over the lake. Popular beaches include:

  • Ontonagon Township Park: This beach is located a mile east of downtown Ontonagon; leashed pets are allowed
  • Union Bay: Located inside the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, this two-mile stretch of beach is accessible at several points along M-107
  • Black River Harbor: Follow the Black River National Forest Scenic Byway north from Bessemer and you’ll find a recreation area with a sandy beach


Rock hunters will love scouring the beaches of Lake Superior for beautiful geological treasures. Here are a couple of the unique stones you might find during your search:

  • Agates: These unique semi-precious gemstones, formed when water vapor and carbon dioxide were trapped in solidified lava, are identifiable by their multicolored banding and can be found all along the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula
  • Yooperlites: These seemingly normal gray rocks—a combination of syenite and sodalite—take on a completely different hue under a UV light, glowing orange and yellow. Look for these unique rocks at night on beaches in the Porkies

Fishing, boating & kayaking

Want to get out on the waters of Lake Superior? Boat launches can be found at the Union Bay campsite in the state park, at the Big Iron riverhead in Silver City and at the Ontonagon Marina. Canoe and kayak access to Lake Superior is available in several locations throughout the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County, including Union Bay, Ontonagon Township Park.

Kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals are available (for one hour, two hours, three hours, four hours or full-day rentals) through the state park via Simple Adventures

Charter fishing on Lake Superior is available through several businesses who operate out of Black River Harbor.

Places to stay

Many of the lodging properties in the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County sit on the shores of Lake Superior or offer easy access to the lake.

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Find everything you’ll need for your next trip to the Porcupine Mountains, including lodging, info on local attractions, and much more.