Along the vast U.P. shoreline, lighthouses began being built in the mid-19th century to warn ships of treacherous points and guide them into harbors. Local light houses include the Grand Marais, Crisp Point and AuSable Point lights. More can be found in Munising and at Whitefish Point.
Grand Marais Range Lights
Drive out the short peninsula that forms West Bay and you’ll come to a parking area by low dunes. The windswept beach at Coast Guard Point is on the other side. A long stone pier juts out into Lake Superior, intended to protect the harbor entrance. Coho, steelhead, and whitefish can be caught off this pier. Sometimes in spring and fall, when the wind happens to come from the north-northwest, there are so many whitefish that the pier is crowded with fishermen day and night.
On the pier is the front range light, consisting of a room perched on a steel skeleton. The rear range light on shore behind it is similar but with an octagonal lantern. By lining up the lights, vessels are guided into the harbor. Range lights aren’t warning lights, they’re welcoming lights, says lighthouse fan Pat Munger, an active member of the local historical society. Its museum is in the light keeper’s house across the road. Next to it, a picnic grove is behind the monument to fishermen drowned in Lake Superior.
Au Sable Light Station
Located in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, this light stands on Au Sable Point on the south shore of Lake Superior, approximately 12 miles west of Grand Marais, Michigan. Au Sable Light Station tours are scheduled Wednesday through Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day (as staffing permits). (No tours on Monday and Tuesday.) Tours begin at 11 a.m. and run through 5 p.m. Click here for more info.
Crisp Point Lighthouse
Crisp Point Light is a historic lighthouse approximately ninety minutes east of Grand Marais. The drive alone is worth the trip, and visiting this beautiful lighthouse is a one-of-a-kind experience. Crisp Point Light has been designated as “one of the most remote lighthouses in the United States”. The Crisp Point Light Historical Society is actively rebuilding and restoring this national treasure, and the lighthouse is open to visitors in the summer. A climb to the top gains visitors a breathtaking view of the big lake. Visit the Crisp Point Light website to find out directions and more. If you make a day trip, be sure to stop at the Two Hearted River State Forest Campground for a rest stop. Cross the swinging bridge to Lake Superior; snacks and gas are available at Rainbow Lodge.