St. Ignace is set to host its annual Strait U.P. Jeep Creep, a fall-themed trail riding event (exclusively for Jeeps!) at the end of September. Don’t miss your chance to register—and while you’re at it, cruise the U.P. for the ultimate color tour.

If you’re going off-roading in the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, autumn is decidedly the best time to do it. It’s hard to beat the U.P.’s prismatic trees, fresh forest air and the pure quiet you can only find far away from the leaf-peeping crowds.

So, it’s easy to see why, when the folks at St. Ignace Visitor’s Bureau had to postpone their annual Jeep the Mac event in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic, October was the obvious choice for a redo. Plenty of Jeepsters showed up that fall, and the feedback was received loud and clear—St. Ignace needed more than one Jeep event.

st. ignace jeep creep

Photo by St. Ignace Visitor's Bureau

In 2021, the annual autumn Jeep Creep was created, with a focus on family-friendly fun. The weekend—which falls this year on Sept. 29–Oct. 1—includes fall-themed games at the city’s downtown Fall Fest, trunk or treating, a pumpkin roll and, at Davis Farms, you’ll find hay rides, a corn maze and a pumpkin launch.

The headlining Jeep Creep Lighted Parade takes place Friday night, but the true highlight of the weekend, according to events director Quincy Ranville, is the haunted trail on Saturday night—a spooky good nighttime ride through a haunted forest.

st. ignace jeep creep
st. ignace jeep creep

As a self-proclaimed “Halloween junkie,” Ranville says part of the fun is how seriously families in town take their Halloween décor and costumes. You’ll see everything from skeletons hitching rides, to life-size rubber duckies (a tribute to the part of Jeep culture known as Jeep ducking, aka Duck Duck Jeep). “We all get really into it!” Ranville says.

Event registration closes Monday, Sept. 18 at noon. $35 per adult, $12 for kids ages 3-12 and kids under 3 are free. Check out the Discover St. Ignace website for more details.

An added bonus for this year’s Jeep Creep is optional trail/road riding throughout the weekend; the Visitor’s Bureau will provide color tours and off-road maps to participants.

“Probably one of the most popular destinations, whether you get there by trail or by road, is the Cut River Bridge,” Ranville says. “The bridge and the view of Lake Michigan are always stunning, but this time of year, it really pops with the fall colors. Cruising anywhere in the U.P. during peak color season is a treat for the eyes for sure.”

Ranville says their recommended routes are mostly loops and range from 1-4 hours in total length, taking drivers across the Eastern Upper Peninsula.

“Aside from Cut River, any of the routes that take you along the shore of either Lake Michigan or Lake Huron are always fan favorites,” she says. “Heading toward DeTour is also a popular run, with a stop in Cedarville or Hessel for some lunch and shopping, of course.”

Photo by Logan Hansen

Plan Your St. Ignace Fall Color Getaway:

For those interested in an extended fall color trip, consider some of these other popular off-roading destinations across the U.P.:

  • Newberry State Forest Area to Crisp Point Lighthouse or Whitefish Point
  • Haywire Grade Trail, Lake Superior State Forest
  • Pine Ride and Two Hearted OHV Trail, Lake Superior State Forest
  • Jack Stevens Hancock-Calumet Trail, Hancock
  • Bill Nichols Trail, Copper Country State Forest
  • Keweenaw Point to Schlatter Lake and High Rocks Bay

Whether you curl up in a cabin, motel or sweet waterfront hotel, chances are a view of the Straits of Mackinac comes with the room. If your dog is your co-pilot, choose from one of 15 pet-friendly establishments in this city. For lodging with a historical twist, check into the 19th-century Colonial House Inn (906.643.6900).

Great Eats
You can’t leave town without rolling into Clyde’s Drive-In for a juicy burger and an old-fashioned malt. But savvy travelers know to stock up on pasties—the traditional (and delicious) meat-and-veggie pies that U.P miners packed for lunch. Take your hand pies to-go from the family-owned Lehto’s Pasties.

There’s nothing better than a whitefish caught fresh from the Straits of Mackinac. Order it up planked at Village Inn, in a hoagie at Mackinac Grille, as a sandwich or broiled at The Gangplank, and try it every way you can think of—including sautéed whitefish livers—at The Galley Restaurant & Lounge. B-M-L Diner with its retro soda fountain theme is where local historian Judy Gross tells us to “leave room for the pie—especially the peach/raspberry!”

Photo(s) by Matt Hatchett