So a trip to Vermilion Point means a trip to the shores of Lake Superior in the eastern part of the Upper Peninsula. This is a spot you can go to get away from the crowds.
Here, you will find the Vermilion Point Nature Preserve, and you can also see what used to be the Vermilion Point U.S. life-saving service station. So this can be a stop to make if you want to explore a bit of Lake Superior lighthouse history!
Vermilion Point was home to a Lake Superior station that served as a US Life-Saving Service Station (equivalent of present-day US Coast Guard) along what can be considered the most dangerous areas of the Great Lakes for ships.
Read the history of the Vermilion Point station.
A trip to Vermilion Point can also mean a trip to a beach on Lake Superior. You’ll be walking across small sand dunes to get to the beach. (Try not to step on the dune grass though! That’s said to be fragile and an important part of the coastal ecosystem.)
You’ll also notice a lot of driftwood once you make it to the shores of Lake Superior. And the other thing you may notice – the weather! It may be completely sunny with clear skies inland, but walk towards Lake Superior and it may be really gloomy! With all the driftwood and the gloomy weather, you can kind of get a sense for how this stretch of Lake Superior could have been a “shipwreck coast.”
You can go for a long walk on the beach in both directions.
This is also a beach where you can try searching for special Lake Superior rocks. There are some people on google reviews who call the Vermilion Point beach their new favorite rock hunting beach. You can look for colorful rocks.
And, a trip to Vermilion Point also means taking some dirt roads that are more so the backroads of the UP!
Is it worth the drive?
Well, that depends on if you feel that it’s worth it to basically go and see a whole lot of nothing! (As one google review put it.)
If you like exploring old lighthouses and life-saving stations (even the kind that are in bad shape), then you may find Vermilion Point interesting.
If you like beach combing (rock hunting) with (almost) no one around, then you may find Vermilion Point interesting.
If you want to go for a long walk on the beach, you might like this place!
If you want to see some small sand dunes, then you also may find Vermilion Point interesting!
If you want to drive the backroads of the UP, then you also may enjoy this trip!!
So, there are many things that many people may consider a drive to Vermilion Point to be worth it, but ultimately that will depend on how you like to spend your time!
Camping near Vermilion Point
There is no camping directly at Vermilion Point.
But if you are looking for a quieter camping experience in the area, then you will drive right by the Andrus Lake State Forest campground. This makes it around a 20-25 minute drive from Vermilion Point.
Here's some info on Michigan vacation prep! Top Michigan vacation spots:
- Best of Michigan's national lakeshores
- Best of Tahquamenon Falls State Park
- Best of Porcupine Mountains State Park
- Michigan waterfalls road trip
- Lake Superior lighthouse road trip
- Best of hiking in Pictured Rocks
- Get a waterproof phone case if you'll be heading out on the water!
- The perfect type of shirt for swimming in Michigan
A bit of what a trip to Vermilion Point can be like… along with the drive there!
I made a visit to Vermilion Point in July 2020.
Because this is more or less just an open space there is nothing that opens or closes.
So as long as the road to get there is accessible (it seems like high winds can cause trees to block the road for example), then it’ll be possible to see the Vermilion Point life-saving station at any time, from the outside.
It’s currently not possible to go inside any of the buildings because they haven’t been restored to safely do so. Currently the groups of SOS Vermilion and Little Traverse Conservancy are committed to preserving the nature and history of Vermilion Point.
So one of the most convenient times to go to Vermilion Point during your UP trip will be alongside a visit to the popular Whitefish Point. The turnoff onto the dirt road that leads to Vermilion Point is located around 5-10 minutes from Whitefish Point.
For google maps, you can locate Vermilion Point to help you find the dirt road.
And then, the Little Traverse Conservancy notes:
The road will quickly become gravel and sand.
Four-wheel-drive is highly recommended.
In 0.6 mile, be sure to stay slightly to the right on Vermilion Road (not towards Shelldrake Lake).
Travel roughly 7.25 miles until road veers north.
Be careful to not follow the 452 veer off, but stay on the main road straight to Vermilion.
Continue north on Vermilion Road for more than a mile.
Follow signs to parking.
From the turn-off onto the dirt road, you will be driving for around 30 minutes on the dirt road through a forest, and then it will end at the Vermilion Point parking area!
Trail to the old U.S. life-saving service station
Then, from the parking lot you’ll see a trail, and this will take you to the area of the old buildings that were a part of the Vermilion Point life-saving station.
Sand dunes trail to Vermilion Point beach and Lake Superior
Then after you have looked around the life-saving station, you can then look for the trail to keep going towards Lake Superior.
You will be hiking on a sand dunes trail to reach Lake Superior! You’ll see small sand dunes all around! Again, try not to step on the dune grass! (aka stick to the trail.)
And that’s a bit of what a visit to the Vermilion Point life-saving station can be like!
See neighboring Lake Superior light stations:
See more light stations in Michigan:
- Light stations on the shores of the Eastern UP
- Au Sable Point light station on the shores of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Lake Superior)
- Eagle Harbor Lighthouse on the shores of Keweenaw Peninsula (Lake Superior)
- Grand Traverse Lighthouse on the shores of Leelanau Peninsula (Lake Michigan)
- Muskegon South Pier Lighthouse on the shores of Muskegon State Park (Lake Michigan)
HAPPY VISIT TO VERMILION POINT AND LAKE SUPERIOR!