"Houghton, Michigan, Our Home Away From Home" Top 5 Page for this destination Houghton by KimberlyAnn

Houghton Travel Guide: 92 reviews and 185 photos

Houghton is our second hometown.

Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (the U.P) you could say that this area of the country is our "second home" as we spend our summers here each year. Laying at the northern most tip of Michigan, the Keweenaw area of the Upper Peninsula is approximately fifty miles long. Within this peninsula you will find the "Copper Range," a narrow area along which some four hundred copper mining companies operated between 1872 and 1920. It was these deposits of copper that set off the boom years and spurred settlement of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Keweenaw waterway passes between the towns of Houghton and Hancock, and to travel across the waterway you will pass over the quarter-mile Portage Lake Vertical Lift Bridge. Keweenaw means "portage" in Ojibwa, the language spoken by the Anishinaabe. These ancient people discovered the Portage River and Portage Lake, which provided a natural water pathway across most of the Keweenaw Peninsula. In the late 1800's the short portage at the north end was opened into a canal, which made the Keweenaw (Portage) Waterway an essential commercial shipping route because of the copper boom and resulting population. Today one can travel by boat into Lake Superior from either end of the Keweenaw Waterway. With a population of about 7500, Houghton is snuggled into steep hillsides and is the mainland headquarters of Isle Royale National Park (See my Off the Beaten Path section), and the home of Michigan Technological University. This university has added another dimension to the cultural mix of the Houghton/Hancock area. The U.P. is popular with outdoor enthusiasts, containing many lakes, the rugged shoreline of Lake Superior, and state and national forests, which cover much of the land, preserving large areas of the rugged peninsula's beauty. This area of the country has also been designated as the Keweenaw National Historical Park, which commemorates the heritage of copper mining on the Keweenaw Peninsulal's mines and its people. Within this copper district, historical sites open to the public are set apart by the NPS as "cooperating sites". With this designation a cooperating site is pulled under the Keweenaw National Historical Park umbrella, creating a unique partnership. Brochures are available at the Camber of Commerce in Houghton, or the information center on US 41 in Calumet. For additional information visit the park web site, www.nps.gov\kewe or phone 800-338-7982. Note that each cooperating site manages its own admissions policy and fee structure. The best time to visit here is July and August when the weather is usually at its best. If you come for the magnificent fall colors, be aware that it might be gray, chilly, and rainy. BUT if you hit a fall sunny day, the colors are a great reward. Year round residents tell me that fall colors are usually at their peak the last week of September and the first week of October.


Fall often brings early morning fog to the waters of the Keweenaw Waterway. I always enjoy the beauty of these mornings. Here you see our sailboat, Impulse, at her mooring in late September.

Wild Flowers

Lupin are just one of the many wild flowers that can be found growing in the U.P.of Michigan. I love these beautiful early summer flowers, and after collecting seeds I was able to establish three patches of lupin near our old summer cabin. One summer I had a couple that came up a beautiful pink, rather than the normal blue color.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:If you enjoy history or the outdoors, there is plenty to keep you busy here.
  • Cons:The weather can be poor, and the mosquitoes and biting flies can be bothersome.
  • In a nutshell:This out of the way place is filled with interesting and beautiful places to explore.
  • Intro Updated Aug 19, 2011
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Reviews (42)

Comments (11)

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Feb 21, 2009 at 2:22 PM

    It's been 35 yrs. since I've been to UP so loved your pages so I could vicariously return. Great copper warning. I especially enjoyed the Lift Bridge, Strawberry Festival, National Park, Copper Mine, waterfront trail. Just a terrific page.

  • Tugboatguy's Profile Photo
    Oct 6, 2006 at 3:29 PM

    KimberlyAnn, Thank you for your comments and tip ratings my San Diego page. I used to sail on Lake Michigan years ago, will return again to your wonderful pages with gr8 pics & so much good info! Houghton page is a 10+! Doug

  • kyoub's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2005 at 2:51 AM

    What an interesting and informative tour of your summer hometown. I love lupines also but it is to hot for them here in Texas. Great tips, especially the one about the ground up aspirin. I will have to try that.

  • windsorgirl's Profile Photo
    Dec 18, 2004 at 4:06 PM

    Your photos are simply stunning! I esp love your fall colours travelogue and the lupine. thanks for sharing!

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2004 at 11:12 AM

    Hello KimberlyAnn: Thanks for visiting my pages. I am new to VT and having fun chronicling our travels. Hans and I also love Michigan and Have explored most areas of it except the U.P. Though we live in Windsor ,Michigan is very near and dear to us. Lori.

  • BerniShand's Profile Photo
    Jul 15, 2004 at 6:44 AM

    wonderful page, l grew up in a small place called Houghton in England !

  • grandmaR's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2003 at 7:22 PM

    Fall color pictures are so hard to do - you have wonderful ones. And lighthouses are my favs too.

  • Ironic1's Profile Photo
    Apr 14, 2003 at 7:46 PM

    Very nice Houghton page. Love the photos.

  • Jan 30, 2003 at 11:22 PM

    Wow this is simply Superb

  • MURRA's Profile Photo
    Jan 28, 2003 at 11:08 AM


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