Iron River to Iron Mountain
The Menominee Range is an anomaly in the Upper Peninsula, the only area not within rock-tossing distance of one of the Great Lakes. Roughly encompassing Iron, Dickinson, and Menominee Counties (all in the central time zone), as well as the southern reaches of Baraga County, it is a land of deep forests and literally thousands of inland lakes.
Tourists tend to pass right though the region, which admittedly doesn’t look like much from U.S. 2, the main thoroughfare. But that thin strip of development masks an astounding amount of untrammeled wilderness. As proof, wolves thrive here (without any human assistance), because the region provides exactly the habitat wolves need: large tracts of land not sliced up by roads where they can avoid civilization, and plenty of large prey in the form of the region’s abundant white-tailed deer.
Iron County’s population centers around Iron River and Crystal Falls, the picturesque county seat 15 miles to the east. Both retain their small-town charm. The heart of Dickinson County, meanwhile, is Iron Mountain. Iron River and Iron Mountain, both former iron-mining centers, now offer visitors several historic museums, a couple of downhill ski slopes, and areas ideal for anglers, canoeists, and kayakers.
Although the western U.P. has a couple of small airports, in places like Houghton and Escanaba (both of which offer commuter service via Northwest Airlines), and Greyhound (800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com) offers limited bus service to Iron River and Iron Mountain, you’ll find it easier to traverse this area via car.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel