October 2023 | 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

Visit Keweenaw Funds First Responder GPS Devices

The Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office used a $5,144 Destination Development Award from Visit Keweenaw to purchase eight GPS phones. The new devices were distributed this summer and can be used by officers and members of Keweenaw County Search and Rescue. With minimal service coverage in Keweenaw County, phone signal is not always available to first responders. The new GPS devices can acquire a longitude and latitude on 911 calls and use them to locate people in distress.

GPS units for first responders.

GPS phones will help Keweenaw first responders located individuals in distress. (Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office)

“Our number one concern is that while recreating in Keweenaw County that people do so in a safe manner and when they do get into trouble, we have the resources to help them,” said Pennala. “Response time is what we are always trying to decrease, with the simple motto of time saves lives.”

Pennala says these new devices operate without a cell phone signal and can be used to increase the efficiency of search and rescue operations. It’s important to note the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office serves more than 3.8 million acres of wilderness in Keweenaw County. Officers and members of the search team received training on the new phones.

“We also assist and have been assisted in searches in adjacent counties where the devices will be used. The GPSs are used in the field for rescuers, helping guide them during a search and helping locate lost persons,” said Pennala.

With new technology, Keweenaw Search and Rescue will have the upper hand on future missions. This purchase was made possible by a Visit Keweenaw Destination Development Award.

Major Funding Secured For Chassell’s Centennial Park

Chassell Township was awarded a $495,000 SPARK Grant to make significant improvements and improve accessibility to facilities in Centennial Park. It’s home to the annual Copper Country Strawberry Festival and is an access point for boats and fishermen.

Dock at Centennial Park in Chassell, MI.Centennial Park’s dock will see improvements as a result of the SPARK grant.

Keith Meyers with the Chassell Township Planning Commission says the grant will bring some TLC to the fishing dock and boardwalk access in the park. Repairing these pieces would expand fishing access for youth and adults. Chassell will replace the boat launch with an adjustable boat ramp dock. This will make for safer boat access regardless of lake levels. The pavilion restrooms will be made ADA accessible and remain open year-round. An accessible walkway will connect the pavilion to the waterfront dock and rebuild the waterfront boardwalk. It’s a perfect place to fish, with a cleaning station on site.

Keep an eye out for these improvements, which will be implemented by next summer.

Orchard Trail Development

Visit Keweenaw presented the Copper Harbor Trails Club with a $5,000 destination development award to assist the construction of Orchard Trail. The Keweenaw’s newest “easy” trail – hikers and bikers will now enjoy a crushed gravel path through a beautiful part of the peninsula.

This investment bolsters the trail system in Copper Harbor and invites less advanced riders to try out new routes and build their skills. It completes a six-mile loop from the Trails End Campground to Fort Wilkins State Park.

Photo of Orchard Trail

The Orchard Trail completes a six-mile loop from the Trails End Campground to Fort Wilkins State Park.

“We’re excited to add the Orchard Trail to our growing trail network,” said Nathan Miller, Copper Harbor Trails Club executive director. “Building easy trails in Copper Harbor is typically a challenge because of our rugged, hilly terrain. Partnering with Visit Keweenaw and the Trails End Campground has allowed us to knock out nearly a mile of trail that’s perfect for families and novice riders. We can’t wait to add more soon!”

The trail will offer hikers and bikers a fun, discovery-like experience as they travel through the campground.

The Power Of Plaidurday

Keweenaw Plaidurday Celebration took Houghton by storm on Friday, Oct. 6. Visit Keweenaw counted more than 1,700 people who came for a record photo at the Houghton High School Football Field. The celebration of the Yooper-beloved pattern plaid was first observed in 2011. This year, Visit Keweenaw helped put Houghton on the map for Plaidurday, filling the field with plaid-wearing individuals for an exciting afternoon.

Group photo of 1,745 people wearing plaid at Keweenaw Plaidurday

Over 1,700 attendees joined us at the Houghton High School Football Field for our Keweenaw Plaidurday photo. (Brockit inc.)

The turnout was excellent, bringing folks from out of state and from neighboring counties. A few guests told Visit Keweenaw they drove from Ludington and Clarkston. Some said it was enough to get their attendance from Colorado and Florida. The Michigan Tech Pep Band performed, elevating the celebration and powering through on the lightly rainy day. Brockit inc. took the masterful photo including all 1,700+ attendees capturing the memorable moment from the top of the press box.

Thank you to the city of Houghton and Houghton High School for helping coordinate and host the gathering. Check out the full story and photo by Brockit inc.

Mount Bohemia In Race For #1 Ski Resort In North America

Mount Bohemia Ski Resort has a chance to take home the title of best ski resort in North America. For the sixth year in a row, the all-natural snow mountain was nominated by USA Today for its 10Best Ski Resorts in North America. The program recognizes the top ten ski resorts as voted on by USA Today readers from a list of 20 nominations hand-picked by industry experts. For the last five years, Mount Bohemia ranked in the top five in the nation. Help Mount Bohemia take home #1 this year – vote once a day until Monday, Nov. 20 at noon eastern. Winners will be announced on Friday, Dec. 1.

“It is an honor for Bohemia to be continually recognized by USA Today’s 10Best,” said Lonie Glieberman, Mount Bohemia President. “It’s a testament that our vibe is unlike anyplace else. The Bohemia lifestyle revolves around fun, adventure, and wilderness. We bring our customers ungroomed runs, fresh lake effect powder and an après ski scene with a Nordic spa pool party twist. Opening two new unique saunas this winter will give guests more options to unwind after a day on our newly improved lift and increase the value of their season passes.”

Snowboarder gliding down mountain side

No beginners allowed at Boho.

Mount Bohemia, best known as a destination for extreme skiers, gets 273 inches of average annual snowfall. It’s the only Midwestern resort to make USA Today’s 10Best list. Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont was the only other resort east of the Mississippi River to make the list. In 2022, Mount Bohemia ranked in at third place.

Opened in 2000, Mount Bohemia’s 585 acres host 103 runs and Michigan’s tallest vertical drop at 900 feet. It also has Michigan’s longest run, Ghost Trail, which is almost two miles long. Mount Bohemia Resort’s season pass sale begins on Nov. 22.

Fostering The Keweenaw’s Dark Skies: Keweenaw Sustainable Tourism Series Begins Nov. 10

Visit Keweenaw’s Sustainable Tourism Series will connect local businesses and community leaders with relevant subject matter experts to discuss the principles, latest developments and opportunities of sustainable travel. The recurring series focuses on a range of topics that will identify practical opportunities to implement local strategies so the Keweenaw becomes a leader in sustainable tourism. The first topic is “Fostering the Keweenaw’s Dark Skies” presented by John Mueller, owner of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge and Keweenaw Dark Sky Park. Mueller will be joined by John Barentine, with Dark Sky Consulting, LLC.

Person with headlamp looking into dark sky

See the first Keweenaw Sustainable Tourism Series presentation on Nov. 10.

Sustainable tourism prioritizes strategies that preserve and enhance a destination’s cultural and natural environments while ensuring tourism benefits local communities for generations to come. Increasingly, travelers are mindful of the effects of their own travel and are seeking destinations that offer experiences which allow them to explore and enjoy the destination while preserving its beauty and communities.

Date: November 10th, 2023 @ Noon

Location: Keweenaw Area Community Foundation, 236 Quincy St, Hancock, MI 49930

Program Description

The Keweenaw is home to some of the darkest skies in the Midwest. This provides visitors and residents access to incredible stargazing opportunities and even the chance to experience the Northern Lights. Join us for a discussion on ways to ensure the Keweenaw's dark skies are fostered for future generations and the science behind light pollution prevention. We'll touch on actions taken to establish the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park in Copper Harbor and why preserving dark skies are important to the region. 

The next program will be in January and more details will be announced soon. The series encourages future speakers to share their best practices in sustainability.

In Case You Missed It

Inaugural Halloweenie Race and Costume Parade

Hundreds of enthusiastic spectators and 15 dogs participated in the first Upper Peninsula Halloweenie Race & Costume Contest. Dogs made prideful runway rounds in their costumes as the crowd cheered and voted for best dressed. There were three race heats based on size, crowning a total of four champions including the costume winner. Each leader received $100 in Keweenaw Cash, thanks to the Copper Country Veterinary Clinic. Visit Keweenaw thanks title sponsor Citrus Salon, and the city of Houghton for coordinating and setting up the course.

Nearly $400 was raised for the Copper Country Humane Society, which serves Keweenaw, Baraga and Houghton Counties plus the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

Vault Hotel Gets Major Recognition

Condé Nast Traveler announced the results of its annual Readers’ Choice Awards with THE VAULT HOTEL of Houghton recognized as the #9 HOTELS in USA - THE MIDWEST.  

More than 520,000 Condé Nast Traveler readers submitted responses rating their travel experiences across the globe to offer a comprehensive look at the places they eagerly anticipate revisiting. The Readers' Choice Awards, with their unparalleled legacy as the travel industry's longest-running and most prestigious accolades, remain the ultimate symbol and acknowledgment of excellence within the travel sector. The full list of winners can be found here.  

“We’re thrilled to be acknowledged by this prestigious magazine in the travel industry for the 2023 Readers’ Choice Award. The Vault Hotel team has worked very hard over the past years to bring an elevated experience to downtown Houghton for our guests and our community. A Top 10 rank among Midwest Hotels has been an aspiration since the beginning of this project and to see this today is a testament to the efforts of many. THANK YOU to our guests and Condé Nast Traveler readers for your support of The Vault Hotel.” - Jen Julien, Owner/The Vault Hotel 

The Vault Hotel is a modern-luxe boutique hotel located in historic downtown Houghton, MI. Set in an 1887 sandstone building, this chic hotel in a converted bank in the city center includes stylish, art deco-inspired rooms and a ground level cocktail lounge for an above par traveler experience. 

The 2023 Readers' Choice Awards are published on Condé Nast Traveler's website and published in the November issue.

Coming To The Keweenaw

Charlie Berens To Perform At MTU Rozsa Nov. 10

Excitement is building as the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts prepares to host renowned comedian Charlie Berens on Nov. 10. The event will bring laughter, entertainment – and a full house to Houghton. Both sold-out shows signify the community and visitor interest for quality entertainment. The Charlie Berens shows are both sponsored by Visit Keweenaw. Thank you to sponsors Braveworks, The Hampton Inn & Suites and Iron Fish Distillery for also sponsoring.

Expect to see a bustling downtown through the evening with the shows beginning at 7:30 and 10 p.m. 

Short Term Rental Webinar Nov. 9

Michigan State University is putting on a short term rental (STR) webinar on Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m. It will talk about the increase of STRs and how some Michigan communities are reviewing their plans to make sure they reflect current needs. Attendees can expect to hear about trends and data about STRs and where communities can begin to analyze their own situations. Several examples of Michigan communities will be shared on how increasing STRs can be best managed long term. This session was prompted by Visit Keweenaw and WUPPDR.

In The Headlines

Photographers gear up for Copper Harbor Photo Walk (WLUC TV6)

The Ghost Town of Mandan, Upper Peninsula (99WFMK)

Copper Harbor Orchard Trail Mentioned on SingleTracks

The First Snow of 2023 Has Fallen In Michigan (Banana 101.5)

Do You Remember Northern Michigan’s Bosch Beer? (WMMQ.COM)

Peak fall color arriving in U.P.’s Keweenaw Peninsula, 6 unforgettable ways to see it (MLive)

15 Best Boutique Hotels in the Midwest in 2023 (Vault Hotel)

Fall colors are behind last year. Where can we see them right now? (FOX 47)

Tallest waterfall in Michigan is a great spot for a fall road trip (97.5 NOW FM)

Charming Michigan town named for best main street shopping district (US 103.1)

Love visiting Michigan’s 11 Prettiest Towns (106.9 WJIM)

Mount Bohemia Ski Resort in running for USA Today 10Best Ski Resort

U.P. ski resort spa to open new saunas featuring Himalayan salt, panoramic views (MLive)

The Best Mountain Resorts for your Ski or Snowboard Trip This Winter (Thrifty Traveler)