Hunts' Guide to The Upper Peninsula

Castle Rock

Castle Rock
Castle Rock has the ingredients of a classic roadside attraction: a natural feature with a terrific view, plus a souvenir shop with another great photo op: an oversize Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

The nucleus of this vintage roadside attraction is a dramatic limestone stack, eroded by water and wind to form a "castle" nearly 200 feet above Lake Huron. Mackinac Island's nearby stacks and arches have attracted tourists for over a century.

Here for a small fee visitors can climb to the observation platform at the top of the rock and take in an interesting view to the east and southeast.

St. Ignace Castle Rock
A nostolgic colorized postcard of the big rock. Such cards were popular for many decades as a treat to send friends while vacationing. On the back the blurb points out that it "rises like an ancient castle from the middle ages to a height of 195.8 feet above road level."

Visitors will see (from left to right), St. Martin Island and, on the horizon on a clear, cool day, Marquette Island in Les Cheneaux. Then come St. Ignace, ferries to and from Mackinac Island, and, finally, the towers of the Mackinac Bridge peeking up above the bluffs. It's especially stunning view at sunset and in fall color season. Note: watch out for luxuriant poison ivy that may occasionally extend past the chain link fence into the edge of the walkway.

A big, old-fashioned souvenir shop is at the base of Castle Rock. Its specialties are Ts, sweats, and souvenirs of area places and Up North and nautical themes.

Outsize figures of Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox are by the shop for Northwoods souvenir photos. Paul Bunyan is at once a fictitious character and a Michigan figure from Michigan history. Logging camp crews near Oscoda (between Alpena and Bay City on Lake Huron) told tall tales about a very powerful logger, and named him after their crew chief. The stories spread widely, like folk songs.

Clarence Eby, a St. Ignace photographer and pioneer of area tourism, acquired Castle Rock and, in 1928, opened it as a destination, just as somewhat better area roads enabled motorists to go sightseeing in outlying areas. He made postcards of sights in Mackinac County, the island, and the Straits, created a guidebook with ads from resorts and cabins, and worked to create a Chamber of Commerce information center in town. Today Eby's grandson Mark runs Castle Rock, but not the campground with the same name.
North of St. Ignace on the extension of Bus. Loop I-75. Or from I-75, take exit 348. (906) 643-8268. Open daily from mid May thru mid-Oct. Spring & fall hours 9-6. Summer 8:30-9:30. Handicap access: shop, not tower.
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Mackinac Bridge. In 1957 this majestic bridge finally connected Michigan's two peninsulas across the 4-mile Straits of Mackinac. It's thrilling to cross, beautiful to look at day and night. See history displays and videos at striking Bridgeview Park off the St. Ignace approach. ... more

Bridgeview Park. Great views up at the Mackinac Bridge from a pleasant park with picnic shelters. Interesting historical video monitors and pictures with text about the bridge and previous transporation across the Straits are in an enclosed pavilion with restrooms. ... more

Museum of Ojibwa Culture. See how Ojibwa social values and their subsistence culture adapted to the climate. View change at the Straits in the 1660s from the native perspective of indigeous Ojibwa and Odawa and Huron newcomers, when the French fur trade was moving in. A fine small museum. ... more

Marquette Mission Park. The peaceful park has well-done interpretive panels about the Straits history of Ojibwa, Odawa, and Huron people and Father Marquette's Catholic mission, possibly at this very location. An authentic Huron longhouse and Ojibwa tipi are open without charge. ... more

Native Expressions Ojibwa Museum Store. This peaceful shop carries traditional crafts (quill work, baskets, more) plus certified contemporary Native American art. Here too is the U.P.'s largest selection of books and music about Eastern Woodland Indians and French-Canadian Great Lakes history ... more

Downtown St. Ignace. Downtown highlights: an interesting book and magazine store, a shop with antique lighting and furniture, and a choice arcade of shops ... more

Huron Boardwalk. A mile-long harborfront path with benches shows off a busy harbor and has Mackinac Island views. Interpretive signs and a Mackinaw boat convey the area's rich history ... more

American Legion Veterans Memorial Park. A waterfront park with picnic area, telescope, popular play structure, and beach often used by scuba divers visiting shipwrecks. At the nearby Star Dock, Mackinaw Parasailing ... more

Sunset Cruise under the Mackinac Bridge. 1-hour narrated ferryboat cruise or vespers cruise take visitors under the Mackinac Bridge and out into Lake Michigan for seeing the sunset. ... more

Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay. Docked at St. Ignace, this modern icebreaking harbor tug clears the Straits for freighter traffic each year and is occasionally open for scheduled tours ... more

Dock #3 Park. Former staging area for the car ferry neeed before the Mackinac Bridge, this uncroded park is a nice place for picnics and a view of the Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay. ... more

St. Ignace trolley tour. 2 1/2-hour tour of area on 30-person bus goes across the bridge for Mackinaw City sights as well as St. Ignace's ... more

US-2 Mackinaw Bridge to Naubinway. A terrific introduction to the U.P. after crossing the Bridge, long vistas revealing one shoreline point after another emerge ... more

MANLEY'S FISH MARKET. Outstanding fresh and smoked whitefish, homemade jerky, and beef sticks. They can be eaten at picnic tables on a pleasant, shady lawn ... more

John Herbon Pottery Studio. John Herbon and three fellow potters work and show here. John's classic shapes are simply embellished with lizards, fish, ... more

Jabber Joe's. Offbeat variety/antique shop with frozen custard, too. Strong on candy, repro toys. ... more

Castle Rock. Stairs lead to the top of a natural limestone tower with a grand view of St. Martin Island, St. Ignace, and Mackinac ferries. A great family roadside attraction ... more

Horseshoe Bay Wilderness Trail/Hiawatha National Forest. A one-mile hiking trail through a mixed forest and wetland leads to a secluded Lake Huron beach, part of the 3,800-acre Horseshoe Bay Wilderness within the Hiawatha National Forest. ... more

Carp River Canoe Trail. An easy, scenic trout stream for family paddling with informal campsites by the river ... more

St. Ignace Wi-fi Hotspots. Public Library has wi-fi. 110 W Spruce St. just off I-75 Business (State St) south of downtown. ... more

Our new interactive map to U.P. motels that offer exceptionally low rates. See also our useful detailed maps to U.P. TOWNS. These custom-made maps locate landmarks and attractions.
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Michigan's Upper Peninsula - Hunts' Guide to the U.P.

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