Ontonagon, Michigan – Lodging, Travel and Recreation

Welcome to Ontonagon and the Porcupine Mountains

The Ontonagon / Porcupine Mountains Area offers all the elements for a great outdoor vacation experience: Rugged, Scenic Mountains with Grand Vistas – Lake Superior – Old Growth Forests – Splendid Waterfalls – Numerous Rivers and Inland Lakes – A Vibrant History of Mining and Adventure – And much more.

Want to add some outdoor adventure to your next vacation? Try the rugged, scenic beauty of the Porcupine Mountains area of the western part of the Upper Peninsula. You’ll find some of the highest — and most spectacular — terrain in Michigan along with grand, scenic vistas of Lake Superior — the greatest lake of all the Great Lakes.

There are many ways to explore the region. Take short hikes through old growth forest to see the splash and spray of the many splendid waterfalls in the region or plan a long trek into the backcountry of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Water enthusiasts have rivers and inland lakes to enjoy as well as the clear, crisp waters of Lake Superior with miles of accessible beaches and shoreline. If you are “going fishing”, you can fly fish the rivers, cast your line in an inland lake or try your luck for one of the big ones lurking in the waters of Lake Superior.

The history of the Porcupine Mountains and the Ontonagon area any visit to the area and the wilderness landscape is still touched by the activities of the early settlers with abandoned copper mines and old mining settlements. The historic Ontonagon Lighthouse at the mouth of the Ontonagon River welcomed early settlers to a safe harbor in this land of adventure and it still welcomes visitors today.


Lake Superior & Western U.P. Lakefront Lodging

Stay On The Lake

Stay On The Lake – Western U.P. – Our new lakefront lodging guide to help you find the perfect spot on the shores of the lakes in the Western U.P.

Lake Superior – Ontonagon / PorkiesMountain View LodgesScott’s Superior InnPeterson’s Chalet Cottages Superior ShoresA Cabin & A Cottage Up NorthAmericInn of Silver CityA Beach Retreat Cottage

Cisco Chain of LakesJay’s Resort, Thousand Island Lake

Lake GogebicThe Timbers ResortBear’s Nine Pines Resort


Winter in the Ontonagon Area

Porcupine Mountains Ski AreaDownhill Skiing at Porcupine Mountains Ski Area

Come Ski The Porkies! You’ll experience the second highest vertical drop in Michigan or Wisconsin and you’ll see spectacular, panoramic views of Lake Superior. In addition to being home to one of the first alpine ski areas in the Midwest the Porkies has some of the most scenic Nordic ski trails in the entire Great Lakes region.

Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing

The 92 square miles that make up the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park are a cross-country skiing paradise. Explore more than 87 miles of designated cross-country ski trails. Enjoy sweeping hilltop vistas of Lake Superior. Glide quietly through glades of thick hemlocks. See waterfalls transformed by the cold of winter.

Snowshoers looking for a true back-country experience will love the Porcupine Mountains. The 60,000-acre State Park combines with hundreds of thousands of acres of national forest lands to form one of the Midwest’s largest true wilderness areas.

Snowmobiling in Ontonagon and the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Snowmobilers can explore the vast network of snowmobile trails throughout the Western U.P. Many use Ontonagon as a southern base for trip into the Keweenaw Peninsula. The trip to the overlook at Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains, with its views of a pristine winter wilderness, is on the bucket list of many adventure-seeking Midwest snowmobilers.


Become a Fan of our Ontonagon Page or our Porcupine Mountains Page on Facebook to Keep Up to Date with the Latest Happenings

Ontonagon . Net On Facebook

Below are the latest postings from Ontonagon . Net On Facebook.


Sunday August 26th, 2018 - 10:24 pm

Ontonagon Michigan

An evening sky over Agate Falls on the Middle Branch of the Ontonagon River. ... See MoreSee Less

Sunday August 26th, 2018 - 12:11 am

Ontonagon Michigan

August 25, 1896: The Day Ontonagon Burned
By Karl Bohnak

We’ve mentioned before that the U.P. will sometimes experience a “second” wildfire season after the primary season in spring. This happens when the lack of rain dries out the forest and swamps in late summer. The most recent example of this was the “Sleeper Lake Fire” in Luce County in 2007. The largest modern Michigan wildfire in 1976 burned 74,000 acres of the Seney Swamp during a dry late summer and fall. Upper Michigan’s most destructive fire on record consumed the village of Ontonagon 122 years ago Saturday.

Tinder-dry conditions in late summer 1896 led to forest fires in scattered areas of the western Upper Peninsula. Fires burned in the forests around Ironwood and Hurley, Wisconsin. As August wore on, even the swamps around Ontonagon dried out and began to burn.

Ontonagon, a boom town of the early copper mining era, found new life as a lumber center in the late 1800s. With an abundant supply of pine trees nearby, the Diamond Match Company established its headquarters in the town. Logs were driven down the Ontonagon River and then processed into matchsticks, shingles and boxes at the company’s huge sawmills near the river’s mouth.

In the summer of 1896, Diamond’s two mills were operating at full capacity. Wood was everywhere; stacks of lumber were said to be piled as high as three-story buildings. Sawdust, the waste of the log milling process, grew into huge mounds. Ontonagon was an enormous pile of kindling waiting to go up.

Del Woodbury was 17 years old at the time of the Great Fire. He was employed loading logs at one of the mills. Woodbury said August 25, began just like any other: “When we went to work the morning of the fire it was about 70 to 75 degrees, I would say, and we had been bothered by smoke for, oh, a number of days. The sun was just a red ball up there and since we had no covered roads then—just dirt roads—why, when a ripple of wind came which was strong enough, everything was dust and dirt.”

That day the wind was much more than a mere ripple; the keeper of the Ontonagon light wrote that at around 1:00 in the afternoon it was “hot and blowing a living gale.” The swamp southeast of the light caught fire and soon the gale-force winds fanned the flames toward the mill. A number of workers were called off their stations to beat back the encroaching blaze, but to no avail. The towering piles of lumber caught fire and the devastation began.

The first of the company buildings burst into flames and a chain reaction occurred—in a short time a dozen buildings were consumed. The workers-turned-firemen saw the futility in their efforts and immediately began urging women and children close to the mill to move uptown away from the conflagration. Suddenly the fire jumped the river and the mountains of sawdust ignited; now the town was doomed.

The Bigelow House, the grandest of the town’s local hotels, was the village’s first structure to go. When this four-story frame building went up like a roll of birch bark on a campfire, the townspeople realized their lives were at stake. Every person at the lower end of town either headed southeastward in the direction of Rockland or Greenland or sought refuge on the beach or in boats on Lake Superior.

The wind never eased but continued increasing, reaching gusts estimated at 75 miles an hour. Huge sticks of lumber, not yet consumed, became airborne fire-breathing missiles that struck buildings, exploding them into flames. Just after 4:00 the wind shifted from southwest to northwest with the passage of a front. Some noticed a brief burst of cool air while the light keeper recorded “a few drops of mocking rain.” Now any hope of saving the rest of the town was dashed as the flames spread up the Greenland and Rockland roads.

Panic took hold as huge banks of smoke hid the sun from view; Ontonagon became a living hell as the darkened sky filled with brands. The townspeople began a race for their lives. A scene of chaos ensued; horses were lashed into a mad gallop and men, women and children ran like wild. Terror stricken, many of the escapees saw houses catch on fire in front of them, but could do nothing to help as they knew they had no alternative but to stay ahead of the advancing wall of flames. People standing a half-mile from the fire could not face it—the very air seemed charged with flame. The intense heat roasted apples and other fruit on the trees. The population kept pushing out to the southeast away from the blaze, some moving as far as five miles out of town before feeling safe.

Ontonagon was laid to waste in matter of a few hours. During the height of the holocaust, the town was ablaze in 100 places at once and nothing could save it. Three hundred and forty-four buildings burnt to the ground. Among them were four churches, a bank, three hotels, a dozen stores, thirteen saloons, two newspapers, the entire Diamond Match Company plant along with 40 million feet of lumber, as well as the barge City of Straits and two iron bridges. The village’s court house and jail were reduced to ashes along with nearly 300 residences.

Only one person died in the fire. The victim was Mrs. Pirk, “an aged German lady.” She apparently refused to leave her home, and her daughter sustained severe face burns trying to drag her to safety. A number of animals perished in the firestorm. The bodies of charred cows, pigs, poultry, dogs and cats were strewn about the burn area, which encompassed a full square mile.

In one afternoon, some 2,000 people became homeless. The St. Paul railroad gave free passes to any fire victim to any town the train served. Immediately, 400 residents took advantage of the offer and left the area. A number of victims spent the first night in the open air with their only possessions—the set of clothes they escaped in. Hundreds of others found temporary shelter in farmhouses or any structure still standing.

The state militia soon arrived and put up 150 tents at the fair grounds. The refugee camp became known as White City and housed up to several hundred people well into the fall. Aid in the form of food, blankets and clothing poured in from every corner of the peninsula as well as from cities as far away as Milwaukee and Green Bay. The residents that stayed were provided with lumber. Most built tarpaper shacks to house their families over the following winter.

Diamond Match Company did not stay. In February 1897, the company announced it would not rebuild. The company said it would, however, take the remaining pine which escaped the fire and still floated in the Ontonagon River. Bitter town officials devised an “ad valorem” tax which they levied on the logs passing through the river in their city. Diamond Match contested the tax and after nine years of judicial wrangling, the company was ordered to pay the tax on some 40 million board feet of lumber. It was the only “aid” the village received from the corporation that once dominated the town.

The village of Ontonagon gradually rose out of the ashes of that terrible August day. In the years that followed, all residents, even newcomers, acquired a common malady—an intense fear of fire. The sound of the fire alarm would set off a ritual—everyone ran outdoors to see in which direction the crowd was running. Once it was realized there was no immediate danger in the vicinity, town folk would follow the rest of the crowd “to the scene of the action.” The “fire demon” held a fear and fascination over this copper and lumber boom town well into the 20th century.

Below, the Diamond Match Company before and after the fire.
... See MoreSee Less

Image attachment
Load more


Visit Ontonagon . Net on Facebook >>>


Porcupine Mountains – The Porkies On Facebook

Below are the latest postings from Porcupine Mountains – The Porkies On Facebook.


Thursday August 30th, 2018 - 12:05 am

The Porkies - Porcupine Mountains

youtu.be/4YgANruR1Zo ... See MoreSee Less

Video image

Wednesday August 29th, 2018 - 10:36 am

The Porkies - Porcupine Mountains

FROM Porcupine Mountains Music Festival --> The Hopper Brothers 2018 Busking Barn performance...pretty copl guys! Keep up the good work! Good job!

Eric Hopper
Delwood and Trake Blues performed last weekend at the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival. This was just one of the many special memories that were made at the Busking Barn this year. Enjoy!
... See MoreSee Less

Load more


Visit Porcupine Mountains – The Porkies on Facebook >>>


Ontonagon, Michigan - Lodging, Travel and Recreation - produced by North Guide Internet.