Submitted by: Laura Niemiec
Join us as we follow Laura Niemiec on her tour of the lighthouses! All her trips can be taken any time of the year. She is going to try to make it out to at least one lighthouse a month and document it with her beautiful photographs for all the Dig the Dunes followers!
Each year as summer draws to a close I get excited for fall with its bright foliage, the crisp weather, and my annual trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Depending on which route you take from northwest Indiana, be it through Wisconsin or up through the Mitten and over the Mighty Mac, it is between 5-6 hours until you cross the into the land of no cell phone coverage. I pack the car up the night before and get on the road before dawn, which gets me to the Mackinac Bridge by lunchtime. I grab a quick bite to eat in Mackinaw City then cross the magnificent 5-mile long suspension bridge into the UP.
After crossing the bridge it is a little over an hour drive to Paradise, Michigan, which is my first stop. I usually spend a good portion of the day wandering the trails around Tahquamenon Falls near Paradise, Michigan, but on this trip I kept my visit short. There was a lighthouse on my list that I needed to check off. I stopped at the Upper Falls to stretch my legs from the drive and snap a few photos from the gorge area then pointed the Jeep west on M-123 keeping an eye out for the turnoff to the Crisp Point Light.
Once you leave M-123 and turn on to County Road 500, the route to Crisp Point is quite the adventure. It’s 18 miles of unpaved road, mostly gravel and sometimes dirt, but is well maintained. It was unseasonably warm during this trip and had rained earlier in the day so lots of mud and water puddles existed on the route.
As with most unpaved roads, CR-500 forces you to slow down, allowing you take in the beauty of the region and relax. Patches of orange and yellows spring up from the dense woods as the wide gravel road begins to narrow and curve. One of my favorite spots on the trip to the light is an area of tall skinny pines with yellowing ferns dotting the landscape at their base.
Be ready for undeveloped roads!
Along the way you’ll see white and black signs mounted to the trees pointing you in the direction of the lighthouse. As the road winds, northeast for the last time you will start to get glimpses of Lake Superior and you are within half a mile to the light and miles away from civilization. Stepping out of the Jeep after parking in the small empty lot, I was welcomed by a campfire tended by two volunteer keepers before setting off to explore the lighthouse and shoreline. The lighthouse grounds consist of the lighthouse and service building, a visitor’s center and a breathtaking view of the perfectly undeveloped wilderness that is the Lake Superior shoreline.
If you want to get away from it all, this is the place to be.
A pretty cool fact for those local to northwest Indiana, the Crisp Point Lighthouse was constructed the same year as the East Pierhead Light in Michigan City –1904. They both will turn 113 years old in 2017. The lighthouse is open to climb all 62 steps to the top from late spring until the fall at no charge. Keep in mind, during the winter months this location may only be accessible by snowmobile.
The stairs in the tower
I was fortunate to have the light to myself and was able to climb out from the light tower onto the platform to take in an unobstructed panoramic view.
Crisp Point Visitor’s Center (red roof)
After leaving Crisp Point I still had a little daylight left so I drove back towards Paradise then up to Whitefish Point, another spot I have frequented on my fall trips. There is so much history here and so much to see. If you haven’t been before, definitely plan to make an afternoon of the visit. It was nearly closing time when I arrived but, since I had visited before, I was not disappointed. My goal was to capture a few photos of the lighthouse, the grounds, and the shoreline at dusk before heading to my hotel for the evening.
Lake Superior Shoreline at Whitefish Point
Getting to Crisp Point Light:
Follow M-123 to CR-500, take CR-500 for about 11 miles then turn right onto CR-412 and follow it 7 miles to the lighthouse.
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