6 Extra-Instagrammable Spots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

6 Extra-Instagrammable Spots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Photo courtesy of National Park Foundation via Facebook

By Lisa Green

September 8, 2023

No matter where you are in the Mitten State, there’s an Instagrammable backdrop near you. That’s particularly true for Yoopers, with 90% of the UP covered in forests. Here’s a list of six of our favorite photogenic places. 

Don’t miss our recs for photogenic places in Southern Michigan, West Michigan, Central Michigan, and Northern Michigan, too! 

Remember: These locations are for personal use photography only. If you’re a professional or looking to do a for-profit photoshoot, contact the folks in charge for more information about their photo policy and permissions.

Mackinac Bridge

Interstate 75, Gould City

6 Extra-Instagrammable Spots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Bridge via Facebook

The suspension bridge spanning the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron is often called the Mighty Mack. And how mighty it is. The Mackinac Bridge, also called Big Mac, is not just a gateway, but the gateway between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

The Mighty Mack is 3,800 feet long, a length often intimidating to first-time travelers. When the Mackinac Bridge opened in 1957, it was one of the world’s longest bridges, similar to San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge. It’s still the third-longest suspension bridge in the United States. As far as the Western Hemisphere is concerned, Mighty Mack is the longest suspension bridge with two towers between anchorages.

The Mackinac Bridge is a favorite subject for amateur and professional photographers alike, and there are multiple spots to grab a good photo angle. Check out the angles from Straits State Park, McGulpin Point, or the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum.

Mackinac Island and Arch Rock

6 Extra-Instagrammable Spots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau via Facebook

Mackinac Island is more than just a fudge capital or a tourist hotspot—it’s also Michigan’s most popular island. All that foot (and ferry) traffic means you’ve got plenty of curated spots for the best Instagram photos, even if you don’t stay the whole day. 

Aside from the gorgeous photos of natural Straits of Mackinac coastline, you can capture the quaint hustle and bustle of downtown Mackinac Island, head up to Fort Mackinac for timeless history and great views, or settle into the iconic Adirondack chairs on the lawn at Mission Point Resort. Of course, you’ll also want to snag a photo of the Grand Hotel’s iconic front porch, a 660-foot-long porch first built in 1887 that holds the record as the longest porch in the world.

The most photographed natural landmark on Mackinac Island is definitely Arch Rock, a limestone arch-shaped formation created by erosion from Lake Huron. With Lake Huron’s still-gorgeous waters, Arch Rock almost looks like a portal, which is exactly what Indigenous populations on the island said about the rock in their oral history. The Ojibwe tribe believed it was shaped by Gitche Manitou, or the Great Spirit present in many other Michigan-related legends stemming from local Indigenous storytelling. 

Arch Rock may or may not be a bridge to the afterlife or a portal to the realm of the dead, but one thing’s for sure: It’s a must-have for any aspiring photographer’s collection.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

N8391 Sand Point Road, Munising

6 Extra-Instagrammable Spots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Photo courtesy of National Park Service via Facebook

America’s first National Lakeshore is the Pictured Rocks, which can be found right here in Michigan. And on top of that, The Pictured Rocks are renowned for their award-winning photo quality. 

The National Park Service’s #ShareTheExperience Photo Contest collects amateur photos from across the country. Rudi Jensen’s photo of the Pictured Rocks won second place in 2020. Earlier, in 2013, Courtney Kotewa won the same contest using a smartphone photo from her kayak. This photo then appeared on all annual park passes in 2015.

What makes the Pictured Rocks so gorgeous? Aside from the beautiful waters of Lake Superior, the rocks themselves are mineral-stained sandstone cliffs in a rich variety of natural colors. These colors come from groundwater that has trickled down the cliff sides over centuries. The naturally-colored cliffs stretch on for more than 20 miles, meaning there’s plenty of variety to be had in your photos. Another photo opportunity comes from Au Sable Light Station, which you can tour.

Black Rocks

2 Peter White Drive, Marquette

6 Extra-Instagrammable Spots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette via Facebook

Whether professional or amateur, some photographers prefer action shots. And if you’re looking for a primo action shot in Michigan, your best bet is cliff-diving into Lake Superior. Your mother may have told you not to let your friends tell you to jump off a cliff, but at Black Rocks, that’s the entire point.

Marquette is the largest town in the Upper Peninsula, with a thriving population of young adults thanks to Northern Michigan University. And one of their favorite places to hang out is Presque Isle Park, especially at Black Rocks. Presque Isle Park is a 323-acre forested peninsula that offers gorgeous views of Lake Superior. The Black Rocks rise anywhere from 10 to 30 feet above the water’s surface, and the cliffs are vertical enough to make for a great high-dive. 

While you’re in Presque Isle, try to find “The Cove,” which offers great water-level views and rock-hunting opportunities. The western shore of the peninsula also has Sunset Point, which offers tropical-like sunset views.

Tahquamenon Falls

41382 W M-123, Paradise

6 Extra-Instagrammable Spots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Photo courtesy of Pure Michigan via Facebook

Plenty of Michiganders have childhood memories at the Tahquamenon Falls (pronounced Tuh-KWAHM-in-uhn). This state park might be more well-known among Michiganders, but its photos are beautiful enough for the world to see.

The Tahquamenon Falls are actually two waterfalls in the Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The falls are nicknamed the “Root Beer Falls” due to their brownish color, which is produced by tannins draining into the river from cedar swamps. The Upper Tahquamenon Falls are larger and more famous, with a size comparable to Niagara Falls. In fact, the Upper Falls are the most voluminous waterfall east of the Mississippi River. The most breathtaking photos often come from the Upper Falls, which are 200 feet across with a 50-foot drop.

The Lower Tahquamenon Falls are 4 miles downstream from the Upper Falls and significantly smaller, but better if you prefer to take photos from the water. The Lower Falls are actually a collection of five smaller waterfalls surrounding an island. The current is usually gentler too, making it great for wading, swimming, and watercraft such as rowboats.

Kitch-iti-kipi

Sawmill Road, Manistique

6 Extra-Instagrammable Spots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Photo courtesy of Manistique, Michigan

Michigan’s largest freshwater spring is also one of its most photogenic bodies of water. Kitch-iti-kipi is located in Palms Book State Park. The unique name means “big cold spring” in the Indigenous Ojibwe language, but the Indigenous people also called it the “Mirror of Heaven” with its glass-like water. The spring’s waters are 40 feet deep, yet thanks to fissures in the underlying limestone, the water never freezes. 

Though there is no swimming or paddling allowed in Kitch-iti-kipi, visitors can ride a large crank-propelled raft for free. The raft has a glass section in the center, allowing riders to see the water and the trout below. When park rangers operate the crank, they also sometimes bring fish food to bring the fish closer to the surface, making for even better photos.

 

READ MORE: 5 Michigan Towns to Consider for a Winter Vacation

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