Bewabic State Park
First Lake is the largest (192 acres) and deepest (72 feet) of a chain of five lakes, counting Mud Lake. First Lake has good fishing for bass and bluegill. The entire Fortune Chain can be canoed. Though the first and second lakes with their cottages and camps are seeing some noisy jet skis on weekends, First Lake is still quiet enough for loons. Loons also nest on Fourth Lake, two miles from the boat launch. Eagles have nests on First and Third Lakes. Spring migration is outstanding.
Access to Mud Lake, just across U.S. 2 to the north, is limited to canoes by a low highway bridge. It has few cottages and good fishing for bluegill.
Canoes can be rented at Fortune Lake Cabins (906-875-3736) at 116 Resort Drive, just east of the park. Michi-Aho Resort (906-875-3514) east of Crystal Falls on M-69 offers canoe and boat rentals and trailers.
The park owes its existence to Iron County highway engineer Herb Larson. In the early 1920s, buoyed by the success of his roadside park and picnic areas (see the "First Roadside Table" point of interest), he "tried to keep alert and ahead of the woodsman's axe," in his own words. On a train to Marquette he happened to meet the owner of this timbered land on Fortune Lake, who was about to sell to a lumber company. Larson talked him into selling it to Iron County for this park. Later Larson orchestrated WPA projects carried out by the CCC camp across the road.
Eventually Bewabic Park became too much for the county to maintain. The state took it over in the 1960s. Many locals still resent having to pay to enter what they once enjoyed for free, so use is more by vacationers from elsewhere.
The park is not plowed in winter, but cross-country skiers and snowshoers are welcome to park by the office and come in to make their own trails.
The park is on U.S. 2, 4 miles west of Crystal Falls and about 11 miles east of Iron River on the west side of First Fortune Lake. Open all year. Campground not plowed; plug-ins by the office are available. (906) 875-3324. Reservations: (800) 44-PARKS. www.michigandnr/parks . State park sticker required: $6/day for Michigan residents, $8 otherwise. Annual sticker $24 for residents, $29 for non-residents. Handicap accessible: buildings, being older, are not ADA accessible. People in wheelchairs will require assistance; others will probably do OK. Call.
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POINTS OF INTEREST
Downtown Crystal Falls. A classic 1930s WPA post office mural; a 1920s theater with impressive organ; an exceptional sausage shop with takeout sandwiches and soups; a shoemaker/shoe store that's a time trip, a big antique shop; and a pasty/pierogi factory that sells seconds for less. ... more
Runkle Lake Park and Recreation Complex. A mile east of Crystal Falls, this 1920s park has swimming and a beach on Runkle Lake, a log shelter in the pines, a fishing pier, tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts. ... more
Peavy Pond & Michigamme Reservoir /Wisconsin Electric Power. Fishing, paddling, boating, and primitive camping in wilderness areas are possible at these impoundments with long shorelines and many arms. ... more