picture of bike leaning against an autumn tree, beer, smoked fish

Why go bicycle touring in the UP?

If you consider the Upper Peninsula as a bicycle touring location and do a little research, you'll learn more and more why the UP is an ideal place to velotour. As you look around this website, you'll get a better sense of the details and find references to other sources of information, experiences, and photos. Here in brief are a few of the reasons why the UP is a great place for a bike trip:

  • The roads are good, but there's less traffic than more populated regions.
  • There are regularly spaced possibilities, at a perfect 'bike tour' scale, for interesting and useful stops (towns, roadhouses, water, roadside parks, forests, scenic spots, historical markers and sites, etc.)
  • There are regularly spaced lodging and camping locations so that there's always a good place at the end of the riding day (motels, campgrounds, camping areas).
  • Unlike most other areas of the US, the UP still retains a lot of regional character related to its history, people, and landscape.Perhaps it's because it's not on any major auto routes, and only has a small stretch of expressway at the far eastern side.
  • The UP has regional variations that are also at an ideal scale for bicycle travel. A day's bicycle ride will take you to a different regional landscape at day's end from at day's start! In a ride of ~25-150 miles you can see differences in history, culture, food, economy, forests, climate, topography, lakes, and other features of the natural and cultural landscape.
  • There's plenty of history to see reflecting the various activities of the UP! (museums, old town sites, old bridges and other infrastructure, abandoned motels & cabins, roads, etc.)
  • The UP is centrally located for access from other regions of the US and Canada. You can bike in from Wisconsin, Ontario, or the Lower Peninsula, and there are regional airports in several areas of the UP, bus routes that can take you there too, and there are major hubs for both not far away.
  • The UP is inexpensive compared to more touristy regions! (road motels, for example, are about $40 to $65, and diners are likewise affordable.
  • Because so much of the UP is public lands (State and National Forests, mostly), you have great flexibility if you want to walk in the woods or bush camp.
  • The moderating influence of Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron means it doesn't usually get so hot in the UP as other areas.
  • The UP is incomparably beautiful! It's an area that is unique to the world because of its remote location; glacial landscape; and climatic influence from the three surrounding Great Lakes, yet not ruined by over-'development' and tourism sprawl like too many other once beautiful lands.
  • The Upper Peninsula is suitable for various types of bicycling - self-contained camping; 'credit card' motel-ing; guided, supported, or group tours; off-road touring on old RR grades or logging roads; thematic tours based on history, natural history, fishing, Great Lakes, culture, food ... or a combination of types!
  • Three (or four if you're a winter biker!) proper seasons that are equally beautiful, but each with a very different 'feel' (fall colours, summer tourist businesses, seasonal motel rates, low spring and fall traffic, etc.)
  • The UP is an ideal segment for cross-continent travellers. For Canadian cross-country routes it allows a nice US-side diversion for a change of culture; for US travellers a it's good alternative to more congested southern routes as well as being the eastern end of the US 2 route that follows the northern states to the West.
  • The UP makes a nice part of the diverse circum-Lake Superior route! Different from Ontario, of course, but also from Wisconsin and Minnesota!
  • There are friendly people in the UP who are proud of their land.