2023 End of Year Industry Newsletter

The Keweenaw’s visitor economy plays a vital role in our region’s quality of life and future prosperity. To keep local leaders and stakeholders current on issues impacting the industry, Visit Keweenaw created this monthly newsletter to share information on topics such as economic trends, destination and community investments, and other pertinent news.

We hope you find this a valuable resource to stay up to date on the Keweenaw’s visitor economy and encourage you to share it with parties you think would benefit from the information. As always, we look forward to sharing what makes the Keweenaw a special community to both live in and visit.

In this Newsletter:

The Visitor Economy

Winter in the Keweenaw brings a certain kind of traveler. They’re looking to take advantage of the snow – whether that be on skis, snowshoes or snowmobile. They want to connect with their favorite winter activities in Michigan’s northernmost point where the snowfall is still guaranteed, and temperatures get cold.

Once the snow sticks, winter lovers flock to the Keweenaw. These travelers often come from spots like Wisconsin, Lower Michigan and Minnesota. To tap into this season, Visit Keweenaw just launched its second-year Adventure North winter campaign. We tell stories that invite visitors to make memories and brave the chill in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

Snow gaugeThe snow is coming, bringing with it a full range of outdoor recreation and attractions.

“We tighten up our outreach during the winter months (compared to summer) as the Keweenaw’s snow travelers tend to be closer to home and more prone to spur-of-the-moment weekend road trips driven by accumulation,” said Brad Barnett, Visit Keweenaw executive director. “The vast majority of visitor spending goes to non-lodging businesses like local restaurants and bars, gift shops, equipment rentals, grocery and convenience stores. A lot of those businesses would not be able to serve the local community without visitor dollars.”

This year’s winter campaign includes imagery and videography captured by Marquette-based Aaron Peterson Studios. The campaign highlights the area’s abundant snowfall and outdoor recreation opportunities, but it puts a special Keweenaw twist on winter promotion. “We really wanted to capture the spirit of a Keweenaw winter,” explained Barnett. “Our winters aren’t for the faint of heart. There is a level of tenacity required to live and play here during the cold months, so it is not for everyone. But if you really love winter, this is the place to be.”

Keep up to date with latest events, snow totals and trail reports on this winter.

Mount Bohemia Ski Resort Voted #1 In North America By USA Today 10Best

Readers across Canada and the United States cast their votes – selecting Mount Bohemia Ski Resort in Lac La Belle as the best resort in North America. Readers chose from a curated list made by industry experts. Mount Bohemia was nominated previously and placed third in 2019. This year, Bohemia’s loyal fanbase helped take home the title of number one.

These lists get created to help skiers across U.S. and Canada pick their next powder vacation. Keeping Bohemia at the top of peoples’ minds will generate more interest in the area, in turn bringing more newcomers and diehard skiers and snowboarders.

“Mount Bohemia is a very special place,” said Lonie Glieberman, President of Mount Bohemia Ski Resort. “We’d like to thank the people who helped choose us this year as the number one ski resort in North America. It goes to show the appreciation and support of our passionate customer base. This is not only a huge moment for Mount Bohemia, but also great for Michigan. Our state is a world-class tourism destination in winter, summer and fall.”

This recognition places Mount Bohemia Ski Resort ahead of other destinations like South Lake Tahoe, California and Banff, Alberta.

Boho cross country

Try out North America’s best ski resort – Mount Bohemia in Lac La Belle. (Chris Guibert)

Visit Keweenaw Donates $15,000 To 6 Orgs For Giving Tuesday

Visit Keweenaw donated $15,000 to six area recreation-focused nonprofits as part of Copper Shores Community Health Foundation’s Giving Tuesday program. The Keweenaw ATV Club, Keweenaw Trails Service, Swedetown Trails Club, Copper Harbor Trails Club, Hancock Trails Club and the Keweenaw Land Trust received $2,500 each from Visit Keweenaw’s donation.

Visit Keweenaw presents big check to Keweenaw Trail Service.

Visit Keweenaw presented six organizations with $2,500 for Giving Tuesday. These trails and nature organizations help keep the Keweenaw’s natural attractions in tip-top shape and bring valuable tourist dollars to the area. (Visit Keweenaw)

Visit Keweenaw chose to support organizations that help drive tourism in the area and provide residents with a higher quality of life. From motorized trails to hiking, biking and land protection, the Keweenaw’s recreation offerings are some of the Midwest’s best. Helping support organizations like these financially through marketing efforts or direct contributions is crucial to keeping the Keweenaw a desirable destination. Learn more about Visit Keweenaw’s Destination Development Program.

Lake Superior Steam Opens In Eagle Harbor

On Sunday, Dec. 3, Lake Superior Steam launched its public sauna service with a Winter Wellness event. Visitors were able to try out the new wood-fired Finnish saunas on Lake Superior’s shores in Eagle Harbor. Fresh Coast Cabins Owner Lynn Makela is proud to introduce the new service and says it will be the perfect way to stay warm all winter. It adds a valuable draw to the Keweenaw, with growing interest in spa and wellness services.

View from Lake Superior Steam sauna on Lake Superior.

Lake Superior Steam is located on the stunning shores of Lake Superior in Eagle Harbor. (ERIN BILLMAN/41 NORTH PHOTOGRAPHY)

“We’re thrilled to offer a Finnish sauna experience highlighting the beaty of Lake Superior,” said Lynn Makela, owner of Lake Superior Steam and Fresh Coast Cabins. “Lake Superior Steam focuses on private sauna sessions in a spa-like environment for the ultimate way to relax and rejuvenate using hot and cold therapy. This new amenity is already loved by our cabin guests and we’re excited to offer sessions and events to the public in the days ahead.”

This new, beginner-friendly sauna experience will bring more people north during the winter to unwind and beat the winter chill. The expansion adds to the experience of Fresh Coast Cabins and will continue to make it stand out as a unique lodging option.

Keweenaw Sustainable Tourism Series

On Nov. 10, Visit Keweenaw kicked off its first Sustainable Tourism Series presentation about dark sky management. John Mueller, owner of Keweenaw Mountain Lodge and the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park spoke following a member of Dark Sky Consulting, LLC. This topic was about fostering the Keweenaw’s dark skies – including actions taken at Keweenaw Mountain Lodge and how industry leaders like Dark Sky Consulting have worked with cities to manage their light pollution.

John Mueller gives sustainable tourism presentation about Keweenaw dark skies and light pollution.

John Mueller, owner of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge and Keweenaw Dark Sky Park presents on the effects of light pollution and how the Lodge has managed its own lighting systems. (Visit Keweenaw)

The series continues with “Sustainability in Stages: A Practice in Continuous Improvement. Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts Director Mary Jennings will present on sustainable business practices in her venue. The Keweenaw is home to several unique performance halls and these offer visitors and locals alike excellent options for entertainment. Attend the talk on Jan. 5 at noon at the Keweenaw Area Community Foundation to hear more about the Rozsa’s steps toward a greener future.

Stakeholder And Local Thoughts On Tourism

Keeping in touch with local perception of how we influence our destination is a core value to Visit Keweenaw. To make sure we’re advancing in the right direction, a significant step was taken in November to host a series of focus groups at the Finnish American Heritage Center accompanied by a survey of community organizations. Stakeholders and locals invested in the community were able to weigh in on Visit Keweenaw’s efforts and better understand how it connects with its partners.

25 different organizations across the Keweenaw participated.

The two-way dialogue fostered a sense of collaboration and shared responsibilities with the community. In addition to the discussions, Visit Keweenaw will soon release its visitor survey results from the fall. The recent questionnaire asked residents to express their views on various parts of tourism. All this valuable input will be used to shape future strategies.

In Case You Missed It

Winter Wonderland brings joy to Houghton Pier

On Saturday, Dec. 2, Houghton’s downtown pier transformed into a special wintry scene as Santa made a memorable appearance. The City of Houghton says it was one of the largest years it’s seen for Winter Wonderland.

The festive atmosphere with holiday lights and horse-drawn carriage rides brought out the public and visitors from 4-7 p.m. The city says it served a thousand cups of hot chocolate in the first hour. With mild temperatures the pier was enjoyable, and the firepits warmed many.

Santa arrived by firetruck shortly after 4 p.m. and eager children lined up for the whole event. Special to Winter Wonderland, all kids who include a return address in their letters to Santa will get a reply.

The Portage Lake District Library welcomed “Frozen” characters like Elsa, Anna and Olaf inside to stay warm for photos with kids. There was a holiday film playing, and crafts for kids to take and make at home. The snowy scene marks the kickoff of December holidays and continues to bring a winter celebration to Houghton’s downtown each year.

Visit Keweenaw Hits 38 Years Of Business

Visit Keweenaw was formed in 1986 as the Keweenaw Tourism Council. Later named the Keweenaw Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Keweenaw has served as the Houghton and Keweenaw Counties’ lead destination marketing organization for nearly four decades.

As we reflect on the incredible journey that brought us to this milestone, we are filled with gratitude for the support of the community, business members and our passionate team. The Keweenaw’s stunning landscapes and exciting attractions make it one of the best destinations in the U.S. to connect with nature and history.

From fostering the visitor economy to supporting local businesses and recreation opportunities, Visit Keweenaw takes pride in its contributions. As we celebrate 38 years, we’re not just looking back at our accomplishments, we’re looking forward to the many years of adventures and connections ahead.


Houghton NYE Celebration

Ring in 2024 on Houghton’s downtown pier with a Yooper-style chook drop. Gather at the canal by 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 on the Houghton Pier for a classic NYE celebration. Enjoy music until midnight from Party Sounds, a Hancock DJ service. Spend the final moments of 2023 with your friends or family and brave the cold for a Keweenaw midnight countdown. Visit Keweenaw and the City of Houghton are excited to present this first-time event.

The Houghton NYE Chook Drop invites all to be a part of the new year spectacle. Enjoy a classic drop at midnight on Houghton’s waterfront pier, signifying the start of 2024 and celebrating the end of 2023. Stay cozy around the fire as you ring in this new year. Chooks are the name of the soft and hardy hats people wear to stay warm during winter. Sometimes called beanies, the hats are a popular staple in the Keweenaw much like plaid. The brand Yooper Chook popularized the style in 2009 and remains a leading brand in the Upper Peninsula.

Join Visit Keweenaw and the City of Houghton for a festive first-time event on the pier this New Year’s Eve from 11:30 p.m. to Midnight. Wear warm clothes and bring your friends and family!


Tiny Treasures: Small towns to spend a winter’s day in Michigan – The ‘Gander

Mount Bohemia’s $99 Season Pass Remains One of The Best Deals In Skiing – Unofficial Networks

Help Michigan Ski Resort Stay #1 In North America On USA’s 10 Best – WITL Lansing

The Best Uncrowded Ski Resorts in the U.S. – On the Snow

Mount Bohemia Aims To Win USA Today’s ’10 Best Ski Resorts in North America’, asks community to vote – WLUC TV6

Keweenaw Snowmobile Club receives Giving Tuesday donation, door delivery for snow groomer facility – WLUC TV6

Northern lights forecast: How to see Thursday’s aurora – Big Rapids News

12 Awesome Curling Clubs in Michigan – Awesome Mitten

Calumet: Where Collaborative Economic Development Drives Michigan Prosperity – Michigan Economic Development Corporation

The Kinross Incident: A Mystery Endures in Michigan’s Skies – TS2.Space

The Enchanting Town In Michigan Is One Of The Best Places To Enjoy Autumn – Only In Your State

No Regrets 2023 – Road Trip From Chicago To Upper Peninsula, Michigan – Windings To Unwind

‘Adventure North’ To This Winter Wonderland In Michigan – Travel Awaits

Wintry and Wonderful: The Keweenaw Peninsula – The Detroit News

You can rent cabins, yurts and lodges this winter at these Michigan state parks – MLive

Your State’s Most Beautiful Scenic Drives and Byways –

The Road Trip 2023 – The Cooler Weather Tour – Michigan UP through Minnesota North Shore Lake Superior

Good Day Northern Michigan, Mount Bohemia Thursday Dec. 7 – 9/10 News