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Photo Credit: David Braithwaite
Your seasonal guide to the Porcupine Mountains
Whether you’re seeking out fast-flowing spring waterfalls or basking in the explosion of fall color, there’s plenty to do every season in the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County. Here’s a seasonal breakdown on traveling to this scenic corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Once the snow tapers off and the temperatures warm up, the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County spring to life. The greening canopies of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park—60,000-acres of sprawling beauty on the shores of Lake Superior—provide a picturesque backdrop for unforgettable hiking and exploration. Be sure to bring a good pair of boots, as trails can still be in early-season condition (that is, wet).
Don’t miss: The spring snowmelt means the area’s waterfalls rush to life as well. Discover classic cascades like Bond Falls or the set of three waterfalls (Manido, Manabezho and Nawadaha) on the Presque Isle River.
What’s the weather like? While temperatures can still be cool (and visitors might even encounter snow) in April and May, comfortable weather begins to arrive in the Porcupine Mountains in the spring. Temperatures in the 50s and 60s are common this time of year.
Summer in the Porcupine Mountains is ripe for exploration. Temperatures warm up and seemingly endless hours of daylight mean ample opportunities to take in everything the area has to offer. Don’t miss a photo op at the overlook at the iconic Lake of the Clouds—you can either drive to an easily accessible parking area or, if you’re more adventurous, hike one of several trails that traverse the state park.
Don’t miss: The Porcupine Mountains Music Festival brings state and national folk, country and Americana acts to the shores of Lake Superior for three days of music on the weekend before Labor Day every year.
What’s the weather like? Beautiful. Temperatures climb into the 70s and 80s, and abundant daylight hours give visitors plenty of excuses to spend time outdoors.
If it’s awe-inspiring scenery you’re after, head to the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County in the fall. The wilderness erupts in a palette of reds, oranges and yellows, marveling visitors and locals alike. To beat the crowds, head to the Porkies in early to mid-September, when colors are just starting to change, and you’ll find lots of lodging options. Fall color usually peaks the first week of October, but that can vary, so check conditions before your trip.
Don’t miss: Obviously, fall color is the top reason visitors head here in the fall, but there are lots of different ways to take in the scenery, whether you’re hiking, taking a driving tour or getting a bird’s eye view with a fall color chairlift ride at the Porcupine Mountains Ski Area.
What’s the weather like? September can often be the most beautiful month in the Upper Peninsula, not only due to the start of the fall color season, but thanks to warm, sunny days and crisp nights. High temperatures can get into the upper 60s and even 70s, with lows in the 40s in September.
Silent-sports enthusiasts will find plenty of ways to play in the snow in the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County—the area receives almost 200 inches of the white stuff in a given year, so it’s perfect for downhill skiing, as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Those interested in moving a little faster can explore more than 350 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in Ontonagon County that connect to hundreds of miles of trails throughout the Upper Peninsula.
Don’t miss: In February, don’t miss the annual Snowburst Winter Carnival, a fun, family-friendly event featuring winter sports, food and fireworks held at the Porcupine Mountains Ski Area in the latter half of the month.
What’s the weather like? High temperatures are generally in the 20s and 30s, with plenty of snowfall, particularly in December and January.
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