Looking for a change of scenery? Go underground! The trove of copper in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula makes it a hot spot for mines that boast incredible sub-terrain expanses. Mining in the region dates back more than 5,000 years and what is left today is a unique and educational experience for visitors to explore these mines and the awe-inspiring wonder they still contain. Here’s a closer look at Michigan’s Upper Peninsula mine tours to check out during your next visit north of “The Mitten.”
Gear Up Before Going Underground
Just a word of warning: be sure to dress appropriately for the experience. Have the proper footwear for walking over uneven terrain. Depending on the intensity of your tour, you may also want to avoid restrictive clothing. Bring a jacket as well because the temperatures of the mines are not dependent on the temperatures outside. So even if it’s warm where you are above ground, it might not be quite the same where you’re going!
Delaware Copper Mine Tours
Located in the eerie ghost town of Delaware near Copper Harbor, in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, the Delaware Copper Mine Tours are both entertaining and educational. This affordable attraction isn’t just focused on offering family-friendly fun, it’s even pet-friendly too! In offering the region’s only self-guided mine tour, they are able to keep their fees to a minimum while offering guests the ability to explore the mines at their own pace! Before entering the mine you’ll be given a 4-minute educational video, and detailed signs throughout the mine will help direct and inform you from there. The mine itself, which was in operation from 1847-1887, has remained relatively untouched since its closure, giving you an authentic and legitimate experience. Before saying goodbye, be sure to check out the gift shop, grab a photo with the pet skunks that call the gift shop home, and have a picnic at one of the on-site picnic areas, located both above ground and below!
Quincy Mine Tours
Open 7 days a week during the summer, you’re always a welcomed guest at Quincy Mine! The mission of this non-profit operation is to teach visitors about Michigan’s rich copper mining history while preserving the site of Quincy Mine. Surface tours (with an optional tram ride) are offered, or you can opt for the full tour where you’ll be taken seven levels underground. During your tour you’ll get to check out the massive Nordberg steam-powered hoist engine, the largest of its kind ever built! In addition to the many mineralogical exhibits on the premises, there is also a 17-ton solid copper boulder that is truly a sight to behold!
Adventure Mining Co.
Grab your hard hat and head lamp and get ready from some underground fun at the Adventure Mining Company where you’ll get your choice of four different tours. The Trammer’s Underground Tour is the most basic and best for those with small children. The Prospector’s Underground Tour covers nearly three times the length of Trammer’s, offering a more in-depth look into the adits of the mine. The next most intensive option is Miner’s Underground Tour which involves rappelling, crawling, and hiking, so participants are expected to be in good health. The last and most extensive option is the Captain’s Underground Tour which is a 5-6 hour expedition that will take you deeper into the mines than ever before! If you like mountain biking, you’ll definitely want to give yourself plenty of time here because the free-use trails on site offer a unique single-track to challenge your skills and your stamina. After you’re done with the mines, make the 30-minute drive to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park to explore a beautiful expanse of northern backwoods.
Get a look behind the scenes of the nation’s only primary nickel mine! As the only mine site on our list currently in operation, taking a tour at the Eagle Mine will give you unique insights into the world of mining. If you want a tour here, you’ll have to plan your timing right because tours are only offered June through October on various Fridays throughout the months. Reservations are required and you must be 18 years of age or older to participate. The 24/7 mining operation is responsible for employing approximately 400 people who process around 2,000 metric tons of ore per day. After your tour here, make the short 20 minute drive to the Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum which is also open seasonally. At the museum you can view old mining equipment, historical displays, and a comprehensive rock and mineral room!
Iron Mountain Iron Mine
Home to the world’s largest miner-Big John-it’s hard to pass by this attraction without taking notice. During your tour of the Iron Mountain Iron Mine, you’ll travel underground by train through 2,600 feet of tunnels where you’ll be 400 feet below the surface of the earth! Along the way, a knowledgeable guide will explain the inner workings of the mine to make it both an awe-inspiring experience and an educational one too. Before leaving, be sure to take a peek around the rock shop where you can also grab a free cup of coffee and a cookie for the road!
There is more below the surface than what meets the eye, and these UP Mine Tours are sure to convince you of that! Have you ever gone underground in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? Tell us which mine it was and how your experience went in the comments below!