Winter in Michigan is a great time for snow sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, but if you’re looking for a different type of winter sports action, then you won’t want to miss the UP 200 and other sled dog races around Michigan. We made this interactive guide to Michigan dog sledding to help you plan your trip.
The UP 200
The UP 200 is one of the best dog sled races in the United States. Every winter, mushers from all over the world come to Marquette, Michigan, to take part in this race. They love it not only because the landscape is beautiful and difficult but also because a huge crowd gathers in Marquette to cheer them on.
The beginning of the race is a sight to behold. The city of Marquette closes down Washington Street, which runs through the heart of downtown Marquette and puts snow on it. On the evening of Friday, February 14th, tens of thousands of people will line the streets here to watch the dog sled teams start the 240-mile course.
The mushers go from Marquette to Munising, through parts of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and then to Grand Marais. Grand Marais is where the teams will stop for the night. They will get there early on Saturday, February 15th. After taking a few hours to rest and eat in Grand Marais, the teams will head back to Marquette in the late afternoon or evening on Saturday.
The Midnight Run
The Midnight Run is a fun 90-mile race that takes place between the beginning and end of the U.P. 200. After the U.P. 200 mushers leave Marquette from Washington Street, the Midnight Run mushers leave from Washington Street. But their paths are different.
In the past, teams have finished the Midnight Run in Grand Marais. This year is different because the teams will race to Chatam, turn around, and finish in Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette.
Where is the best place to see the dogs?
One of the most popular questions that get asked by spectators is, “where’s the best place to see the sled dog race in Michigan?” Luckily, there are many great options.
Washington Street in Marquette is the most popular viewing area by far because the races start right there, and it’s located in the heart of downtown. However, for those looking to avoid crowds or take in a different stage of the race, there are definitely other options.
Not far from downtown Marquette, the welcome center offers a great spot to view the sled dog teams as they head into the woods. Restrooms are available, and food and drinks will be provided here at no cost.
The Prince of Peace Church in Harvey also offers a great viewing area. They’ll have a bonfire to help spectators stay warm. Restrooms are available inside the church, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.
The Lakeland Sculpture Park offers another great viewing spot as the mushers’ race right by there.
The Downtown Showdown
And if you’re in Marquette for the UP 200 and Midnight Run, be sure to check out the Downtown Showdown rail jam competition on Saturday night. The snow from Washington Street gets moved to nearby Front Street, where an awesome course of rails is set up on which snowboarders and skiers will test their skills. It’s a great time for skiers, snowboarders, and spectators alike.
So plan a trip to Marquette, Michigan, for the weekend of February 14th, 15th, and 16th! It’ll be an action-packed weekend full of great events!
If you can’t make it to the race, there are plenty of other ways to experience sled dog racing on the Upper Peninsula. Visit michigan.org to see a full list of sled dog tours available near you.
Have you been to a sled dog race in Michigan? Tell us about your experience.