5 Beautiful Marquette Lighthouses to Visit Along the Lake Superior Coast

Visit these Marquette lighthouses for a trip right out of a storybook. Bright red, set on rocky cliffs, surrounded by fog, completely isolated … these Northern Michigan lighthouses are historic, picturesque and peaceful. 

Book a room in Marquette—right downtown, in a cozy log cabin, next to the Carp River—there are options for every adventurer, and tackle a new lighthouse or two each day.

BIG BAY POINT LIGHTHOUSE

Latitude: 46.8417° » Longitude: 87.6800°
Closest Town: Big Bay 
Year first lit: 1896

This homey red-brick lighthouse combines the coziness of a bed and breakfast and the excitement of a storied cliffside landmark. Visitors are encouraged to climb up to the lighthouse lantern, 120 feet above the water, for a view of meadows, forests, the Huron Mountains and the mighty Lake Superior.

Fun Facts:

  • The lighthouse stands halfway between Marquette and the Keweenaw Portage Entry.
  • The point occupies a position between Granite Island and Huron Island, but the two lights are invisible to one another.
  • In the past, a number of vessels have been wrecked on Big Bay Point.
  • Today the lighthouse operates as a bed and breakfast.
HURON ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE

Latitude: 46.9631° » Longitude: 87.9991°
Closest Town: L’Anse
Year first lit: 1868

The lighthouse is surrounded by wooden bridges and sits atop rippling bluffs, only to be seen by boat or plane, as the island is no longer open to the public. A few miles offshore are the Huron Islands, home of the abandoned Huron Island Lightstation. 

Fun Facts: 

  • The Huron Island Lighthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Located on West Huron Island, the island is one of several that make up the Huron National Wildlife Refuge.
  • The refuge was established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 and is the oldest refuge in the Great Lakes-Big River Region.
  • The “schoolhouse” style structure was constructed with local granite from the Huron Islands.
MARQUETTE HARBOR LIGHTHOUSE

Latitude: 46.5466° » Longitude: 87.3763°
Closest Town: Marquette 
Year first lit: 1853 

Every day this lighthouse travels farther back in the past as the Marquette Maritime Museum continues to restore features on the inside and outside of the building, offering visitors a historic view of how it looked and operated in a bygone era. The big red building wasn’t always big and red as it has undergone many renovations over the years, the first iteration believed to be the first lighthouse in Marquette. 

Fun Facts: 

  • This lighthouse is one of the most historic navigation beacons on Lake Superior and was critical in the role of Great Lake iron ore trade and assisting in safe navigations back when Marquette was the premier shipping port for iron ore.
  • The first Marquette Harbor Light was built in the city in 1853.
  • The present-day lighthouse was constructed in 1866 with an additional (second) story added in 1909.
  • The light still shines for sailors today.
PRESQUE ISLE HARBOR LIGHTHOUSE

Latitude: 46.5742° » Longitude: 87.3746°
Closest Town: Marquette 
Year first lit: 1941

Venture out onto the breakwall to tour the lighthouse, weather permitting, and fall in love with mighty Lake Superior.  

Fun Facts: 

  • Also known as “Upper Harbor Lighthouse.”
  • It’s located at the end of the hardy Upper Harbor Breakwall, which is open to the public (weather conditions and discretion dependent).
  • Day and night, this beacon still guides ships into the railroad ore docks.
  • A nearby monument serves as both a tribute and a reminder of Lake Superior’s strength.

Photo by Chase Maser

STANNARD ROCK LIGHTHOUSE

Latitude: 47.1683° » Longitude: 87.2120°
Closest Town: Nowhere
Year first lit: 1883

The middle of nowhere or the middle of everywhere, this lighthouse is more than 40 miles north of Marquette’s shore, only seen by boat or plane. The sight has become an adventurous fishing destination and the Michigan Lake Trout Record was caught there in 1997 at 61 lbs 8 oz.

Fun Facts: 

  • The lighthouse was deemed the “Loneliest Place in North America.”
  • It is named after Captain Charles C. Stannard, who discovered a dangerous reef more than a mile long off of the coast of northern Marquette County in 1835.
  • Construction of this concrete-based beacon took five years. During 1878–79, the crew was allegedly able to work a mere 61% of the season due to storms.
  • Due to the awful isolation, keepers typically rotated three weeks on and one off, the longest consecutive stay on the Rock was by Louis Wilks with 99 days.