The Keweenaw is home to an abundant network of National, State, and local parks. No two parks are alike with some focusing on preserving the Copper Country’s history and natural wonders while others are purely recreational.
The Keweenaw National Historical Park (KNHP) was established in 1992 to preserve and interpret the story of the rise, domination and decline of the region’s copper mining industry. Keweenaw Heritage Sites were established to help make a unique contribution to the copper mining story. Embodying stories of hardship, ingenuity, struggle and success, each site allows you to explore the role mining played in people’s lives here and afar. Heritage sites operate independently of the National Park Services, and stretch the length of the Keweenaw Peninsula, from Copper Harbor to Ontonagon. The KNHP also offers the Junior Ranger Program for kids 8 years and older. You can pick up the book at the KNHP Headquarters & Visitors Center or the Visit Keweenaw Welcome Center. Once completed, you can return it to the KNHP Visitor Center where a ranger will review the book and award a badge and sticker.
The Keweenaw is the gateway to Isle Royale National Park, located in the northwestern portion of Lake Superior, is a remote island archipelago, consisting of one large island surrounded by over 450 smaller islands. It is primarily a north woods wilderness and water based park. Visitors come to hike, backpack, boat, canoe, kayak, scuba dive, and fish. The island offers 165 miles of trails, 36 campgrounds, 51 miles of canoe routes, 10 major shipwrecks, and over 336 miles of scenic Lake Superior shoreline. The primary means of access to the park are via ferry from Houghton or Copper Harbor, or seaplane
The Keweenaw is home to three state parks, in addition to state forestland and other recreation areas. Our state parks blend history and scenic beauty offering opportunities for recreation, relaxation and disconnecting.
Resting on the western shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula, McLain State Park is one of the Keweenaw's most beloved scenic and recreational sites thanks to its mix of pristine Lake Superior waters, open green space, and scenic views. The park is a popular spot for beach combers and sunset hunters and includes sandy beaches and an impressive breakwall along the North Portage Entry. McLain has also become a local hotspot for surfing and parasailing on windy days. McLain State Park is about 15 minutes (by car) from Hancock, on M-203, and offers modern and rustic campgrounds, day-use pavilions, a playground, recreational trails, and an onsite general store for last minute picnic needs.
Open year-round, McLain is also frequented during the winter months by snowshoers and cross country skiers.
Built in 1844, Fort Wilkins was intended to keep law and order during the peak of copper mining boom. The fort tells the story of life on the northern frontier during the mid-1800s. The park also includes the Copper Harbor lighthouses built in 1866 and 1868. Historical interpretation, including the Living History program, is provided by the Michigan History Center from mid-June through mid-August.
Fort Wilkins is open daily, 8:30AM to dusk, from mid-May through mid-October.
Located in Twin Lakes and 26 miles southwest of Houghton/Hancock on Highway M-26, Twin Lakes State Park is a respite for outdoor enthusiasts. The 175-acre modern campground is located on the southwest shore of Lake Roland, one of the warmest inland lakes in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and is frequented by paddlers and anglers. Day-use area is adjacent to campground and features a 500-foot beach, boat launch, playground equipment, horseshoe pits, volleyball net, beach houses, and a picnic area. The Bill Nicholls Snowmobile Trail traverses the park northwest of and parallel with M-26.
Not to be forgotten, the Keweenaw's communities offer a multitude of local parks for visitors to explore. From traditional picnicking spots to breathtaking outdoor experiences, visitors can enjoy a plethora of recreation and nature experiences.
Close to the heart of Houghton is Ray Kestner Waterfront Park, lovingly named by locals as “Chutes and Ladders.” The park features an epic combination of long tubular slides and ladders (like the classic board game), making it a popular and fun destination on sunny afternoons. Not only is the playground hard to beat, but the Ray Kestner Park also rests on the shores of the Keweenaw Waterway and offers spectacular views of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. Stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and other water toys are available for rent at Portage Paddle Sports which is located in the park area. Grab an ice cream cone, play a game of volleyball, or swim in the protected swim area - this beloved park has it all. Make sure to check our events calendar for live music, festivals, and other events that may be hosted in this beloved waterfront park.
The Hancock Recreation Area (Hancock Beach) is located one mile west of downtown Hancock on M-203. There is a camping area, as well as a beautiful park with large shade trees. It's a great place for a picnic or game of volleyball and also features a calm swimming area. The boat ramp provides access easy access to the Portage Canal, and many people enjoy fishing from shore. Portage Paddle Sports at Hancock Beach offers paddle board and kayak rentals, as well as hand-dipped ice cream cones.
Calumet Waterworks Park, better known as Bucky's by locals, is located on the rocky shores of Lake Superior close to the town of Calumet. This park is a favorite for watching sunsets, collecting agates, or searching for Yooperlites. It is also the perfect place for a game of pick-up basketball or horseshoes and has a nice playground area for the little ones to enjoy. Calumet Waterworks Park also has many nice pavilions and picnic areas, restrooms, several stairways and a ramp to the beach. Across the street, is the Gardner's Creek Trail, which is a great place for a short and peaceful walk through the woods.
Calumet Lions Park feels like a nature sanctuary and is conveniently located right in Calumet. This park has a fantastic disc golf course, horseshoe pits, and many private picnic areas. Calumet Lake is the centerpiece of this park and has a beautiful pet-friendly nature trail that follows the edge of the lake. In recent years, this park has also become home to live music festivals, like Dam Jam and Calumet Music Festival.