Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Two Keweenaw state parks picked for best campground in Lake Superior Magazine’s 2015 ‘Best of the Lake’ readers' poll

From Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Cover of September 2015 issue of Lake Superior Magazine. (Image courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

MARQUETTE -- Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, located just west of Copper Harbor in Keweenaw County, and F.J. McLain State Park near Hancock in Houghton County, recently were voted first- and second-place winners, respectively, for Michigan shore "best campground" by the readers of Lake Superior Magazine.*

More than 650 print magazine readers, website followers and fans of establishments around the Lake Superior shoreline voted in the poll. The results, which included 101 total winners, were published in the September 2015 issue of the magazine, which is now on sale.

"We are very proud of our park and our efforts at customer service," said Bonnie Harrer, Michigan Department of Natural Resources' office support at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park.

Kids and parents enjoy a warm Saturday afternoon at the playground at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park. (Photos courtesy Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources unless otherwise indicated)

Fort Wilkins supervisor Wayne Burnett agreed, crediting the efforts of park employees and others to make Fort Wilkins a popular U.P. destination.

"Our people here do a tremendous job," Burnett said.

Winners were determined in several categories ranging from best weekend destination, beach and pizza to best park, burger and gift shop. Winners were named in each of the categories for Lake Superior’s four shores in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario, Canada.

"The 'Best of the Lake' has been around in some form or another since 1989," said Konnie LeMay, Lake Superior Magazine editor, in Duluth, Minnesota. "It started as '10 Best Lake Experiences.' Our formal 'Best of the Lake' list, voted on by readers, was first published in 1994."

LeMay said the magazine does not feature the same categories every year and it has been a while since they’ve included campgrounds.

This year, the campgrounds at Fort Wilkins took the No. 1 spot for the first time since the contest began. F.J. McLain State Park won a first-place award for "best park" in 2012. This year’s best park honor went to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and runner-up was Isle Royale National Park, whose gateway community is Copper Harbor.

A view of Lake Superior and Copper Harbor, which was honored as "best weekend destination" in Lake Superior Magazine’s "Best of the Lake" readers' poll this year. Fort Wilkins is just a short drive from Copper Harbor, and Isle Royale National Park can be reached by boat from either Copper Harbor or Houghton, Mich.

"We are very fortunate to have the support of the Fort Wilkins Natural History Association that funds the activities at the fort," Harrer said. "But it is our hardworking, fort-loving workers that make the visit for our customers comfortable and a wonderful experience."

This year, Fort Wilkins offered 45 evening programs, a new record. Park staff is proud of its service to the public and how many people volunteered to organize and staff the evening programs.

"All these things add up to why we feel we can brag about our beautiful and very vibrant park and we are thankful that the people who read Lake Superior Magazine voted us No. 1 in the 'Best of the Lake' contest," Harrer said.

A visitor takes a leisurely stroll with his dog through the east campground at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park is situated on 698 acres along the shores of Lake Fanny Hooe, a short distance across U.S. 41 from Lake Superior. The park has an east and west campground with a total of 159 campsites, a mini-cabin, a camper-cabin and a group-use area with four rustic sites.

Fort Wilkins was built in 1844 and today remains a well-preserved example of Army life during the mid-19th century. The site includes 24 buildings, half of which are original structures. The Copper Harbor Lighthouse, built in 1866, also is part of the park.

F.J. McLain State Park is located on 443 acres – between Hancock and Calumet – and has 90 campsites and cabins with electricity and without. The park is named for former Houghton County Road Commission Chairman Fredrick J. McLain who worked to have the property designated as a state park in the early 1800s.

"McLain State Park is honored to be voted as one of the best campgrounds on the lake in Lake Superior Magazine," said McLain State Park unit supervisor Jamie Metheringham. "The park is well-known to its visitors to have a superior sunset and spectacular view of the great lake."

Campers who have visited F.J. McLain State Park for many years enjoy a July day reading and relaxing at the park. The park welcomes campers with tents or recreational vehicles and includes a public beach just a short bike ride or walk from the campground. 

Overall, the Keweenaw Peninsula fared very well in this year’s Michigan contest voting by Lake Superior Magazine readers.

Additional first-place Copper Country nods included Copper Harbor as the "best weekend destination," the vista at Brockway Mountain as the "best scenic overlook," Fitzgerald’s Restaurant (Eagle River Inn) in Eagle River was voted the "best restaurant," with the Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor voted runner-up while the Michigan House Café and Red Jacket Brewing Co. in Calumet hit the top spot for "best burger."
An interpretive sign at a lookout point along Brockway Mountain Drive.

For more information on Michigan state parks, visit To check camping availability and make reservations, visit For more information on Lake Superior Magazine, visit

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to

* Click here to learn more about Fort Wilkins Historic State Park. See a map of F. J. McLain State Park here.

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