Michigan : Safety by City
- Ann Arbor
- Battle Creek
- Farmington Hills
- Flat Rock
- Glen Arbor
- Grand Rapids
- Mackinac Island
- Mackinaw City
- Port Huron
- Sault Ste. Marie
- Sterling Heights
- Traverse City
Visitors are encouraged to “Make Their Marq” in Marquette, Michigan, on the state’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.)
It is also the largest city in the U.P. and in the central section, with pivot point access to the west or east U.P.
Iron ore mining and shipping fueled the early days of this region’s economy, with Marquette being incorporated in the 1840s.
It’s still a busy port to this day, with Northern Michigan University and tourism also supplementing the thriving economy.
This is a four-season destination where a lot of snow and sub-zero temperatures don’t stop people from outdoor adventures.
Summers are mild, and the expansive shoreline access to Lake Superior makes this region known as the Fresh Coast (due to the lake’s freshwater).
Fall bursts with foliage and scenic drives for hundreds of miles, while spring brings some of the most breathtaking waterfalls this side of Niagara Falls – and without the large crowds.
The “birthplace of organized skiing” is just 25 minutes away in Ishpeming, and plenty of ski resorts and snowshoe trails dot this region.
To get a grasp of the outdoor amenities here, check this out:
- 83 miles of shoreline
- 150 streams
- 300+ lakes
- 350 miles of trails
That’s in addition to one of the “Most Charming Small-Town Downtowns in America,” as noted by HGTV; you have locally crafted brew, a bustling culinary scene, and nightlife that might make you miss that early morning alarm.
Warnings & Dangers in Marquette
OVERALL RISK: LOW
Marquette is low risk, provided you are an outdoor person or plan to learn outdoor safety in this rugged region. Crime rates are low, activities are available for every skill level, and locals are helpful and welcoming.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Marquette is three hours on the road from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and more than six hours to Detroit. You'll need a car here, and there's really no way around that unless you fly into the local Sawyer International Airport, 25 miles south of Marquette. You can use a taxi to get to and from the city while renting bicycles in town. You can also consider tour buses and shuttles at a premium price for more widespread adventures or special occasions. All options are safe but depend on your comfort level when driving in snow or on rural roads.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk, with just two pickpockets reported in 2021. While there's an element of adventurer comradery and unity, you should never leave your backpack or belongings unattended or out of sight. Use lockers whenever possible and load up your trunk when parking in a remote lot. You have as much risk of your car being broken into as having a rented bike stolen if you don't use standard safety precautions.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
Marquette is the third-snowiest location in the Continental U.S., with nearly 13 feet of snow falling in the city. Keep in mind from November through March, it rarely gets above freezing (32 °F). That means the snow that falls - stays there in heaping ominous stacks on the side of the road. (Truth be told, I'm a summer child, and I can appreciate winter sports, but I couldn't slide down a tubing hill without screaming bloody murder. My "ominous" could your "awesome.") The freeze/thaw cycle of late spring can make roads and trails muddy. Summer can bring thunderstorms or the occasional tornado. Storms on the lake can make waters very rough, and beach walks dangerous. Plan for higher snowfalls in the mountains. You'll get plenty of warnings about every weather risk, but you need to practice the utmost safety measures as the rugged wilderness has few places where you can call for help.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
The risk is low, with three or fewer robberies reported in most years since 2011. Crimes here are more likely to be those of opportunity, like leaving valuables in public spaces, than acts of violence.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
The shipping port will be the biggest potential target, but it comes with a Coast Guard station, Border Patrol, and Customs watching every shipment in and out. Ready.gov is the best website to learn about nationwide and regional terror concerns in the United States.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The only two scams to be aware of include scammers posing as law enforcement and demanding money for a random offense or shipping messages sent via text with fraudulent links. Most of those will impact locals, but you should be aware of anyone that contacts you asking for private information or demanding payment. With more seniors moving to and visiting Marquette County and the U.P., you can visit the Triad of Seniors organization to see what's being done to protect seniors from scams and learn about the most common ones.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Elderly female visitors can use the Triad of Seniors organization to find any new or ongoing risks. Females of any age should find a low risk here, provided they understand and practice personal, extreme weather, and wilderness safety. You might know how to stave off a would-be thief, but do you know what to do if you come face-to-face with a moose? (HOT TIP: Moose are faster and more dangerous than you realize if you make them mad. More to come on that and the bears and wolves here.)
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
Lake Superior water is already pretty darn clean. Still, the water treatment process leads to exemplary tap water with no violations and full compliance with local, state, Great Lake, and federal guidelines.
Safest Places to Visit in Marquette
TravelMarquette.com is the tourism website for this region.
It will include the city of Marquette but also neighboring communities of Ishpeming, Negaunee, Harvey, Big Bay, and Gwinn.
Under the “PLAN” section, you’ll find a first-timers guide to Marquette, and there is a blog with options for each season.
Since Marquette is the largest city and centrally located in the U.P., it has many annual events throughout each season.
Check the events ahead of time because the popularity of an event – like the Festival of the Angry Bear or the U.P. Beer Fest – could lead to rooms selling out or increased prices.
Downtown Marquette’s main drag runs down W. Washington St.
Restaurants, shops, and hotels line the path from U.S. 41 to Northern Michigan University.
Downtown is still a few blocks from the lakeshore, and on the way there, you’ll find the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum.
It’s designed for kids one to 13 years old, but I promise you the adults will love it too.
One great benefit of starting here is that kids can learn about the lakes and wooded areas before exploring.
Founder’s Landing Park & Pier is recently renovated, with two new piers completed at the end of 2022.
A canoe/kayak launch and glass-bottom section will greet visitors for the first time.
The Iron Ore Heritage Trail runs alongside the lake on its 47-mile trek from Chocolay Township to Cliff Shafts Mine Museum Trailhead.
One of the signature sights in Marquette is the Ore Docks.
I think it looks like the frame of a log cabin house was built the wrong way.
Still, if you take the 15-minute drive or nine-mile walk/bike ride to the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, you’ll see how, historically and currently, the Ore Docks take the mined material and deposit it into massive freighters.
The Marquette Regional History Center in the city will also have information about that industry, in addition to other Marquette County historical impacts.
Lighthouse lovers can find the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse by its rich red coloring at the attached house and the Presque Isle Harbor Breakwater Light on a rocky, uneven path jutting out into the lake.
25 miles north along a stunning scenic drive, you can visit the Big Bay Point Lighthouse, which is also a bed & breakfast inn.
You have plenty of options for outdoor adventures, including a park with an ice-climbing wall.
- Pictures Rocks National Lakeshore: 50 minutes from Marquette with backcountry north woods adventures or guided boat or kayak tours.
- Grand Island: Half a mile offshore from Munising, this National Recreation Area is near Picture Rocks, making for a great getaway within a vacation. Ice caves, shipwrecks, and spectacular cliffs bring visitors throughout the year.
- Presque Isle Park: Just 10 minutes from downtown Marquette, this 323-acre piece of land includes lakefront, woods, and cliff diving.
- Marquette Mountain Resort: Head inland three miles to reach the skiing and summer trail destination.
To find waterfalls in this region, use the UPtravel.com website to search for regional waterfalls.
When searching for the closest options, select CENTRAL as the region.
Places to Avoid in Marquette
Marquette and the surrounding county offer safe spaces to eat, drink, sleep, and play.
Hotels and inns are located in the woods, in town, along the interstate, and on the lakefront.
No parts of the city or region are criminally dangerous.
There aren’t bad parts of town here.
The main thing to avoid for safety here is not doing an activity beyond your skill level.
If you don’t ski often, stay off the advanced slopes.
If you’ve never climbed an ice wall, take a lesson and start slow.
Don’t let someone pressure you into jumping off a cliff if you don’t feel safe doing so, and don’t make fun of anyone who doesn’t want to jump.
You should know proper ski, slope, trail, and outdoor etiquette, as the experienced people here won’t overlook someone blocking a trail or discarding trash trailside.
Unexperienced water lovers might assume a lake is safer than an ocean, but the Great Lakes – especially the largest, Lake Superior – can have rip currents, waves, and tide concerns.
Every bit of safety information is available for each park, trail, and resort.
You just have to put learning those safety steps as a priority.
There’s something you should avoid doing that brings the #1 call for service to the local police department.
Can you guess what it is?
The answer is coming up in the Top 10!
Safety Tips for Traveling to Marquette
- Marquette has its own police force, and outside the city, the county sheriff responds. National parks have their own park police department, and Michigan state parks can either have their own rangers or use local law enforcement. Store all law enforcement contacts on your phone to have an easy contact point should you need them. Calling 911 should route you to the right location.
- You will never be far away from a law enforcement officer, so don’t think you can misbehave on the trails. Police work in cars, bikes, snowmobiles, boats, and on foot to patrol this vast region. Other people on the trails will report any suspicious activity.
- As much as winter brings a lot of places to life, certain roads will close down for the season because they are too treacherous or don’t get plowed. Check the Mi Drive website to see road closures and weather-related closures, as well as set up alerts for your chosen routes.
- Don’t feed any wildlife – ever—no seeds for birds, no nuts for squirrels, no snacks for deer – none. Feeding animals can cause illness and disrupt their wild nature, making it more dangerous for man and beast.
- When you see a moose crossing sign on a road, pay attention. In June 2022, five moose were struck and killed by vehicles within a week in Marquette County. It’s especially important at night on rural rods, where the dark-colored moose can catch speeding drivers off guard. If you see a moose in the wild, stay away. If it stops to look at you – you’ve made it mad. If it starts licking its lips and its ears go up, it’s ready to run up to 30 miles per hour to get to you.
- If you choose to cliff drive at Blackrocks in Marquette, you do so at your own risk. Over the past 20 years, at least two people have died doing so, and dozens have been hurt. While it’s not illegal, it is frowned upon – yet every summer, a pilgrimage begins to the rocks. If you do choose to jump, don’t do so head first for the best safety measure.
- Presque Isle Park and Presque Isle River are 140 miles apart. Then there’s the city of Presque Isle, Michigan, which is 250 miles away on the Lower Peninsula “Thumb.” Presque Isle, Maine, is more than 1,100 miles away. Those are just a few confusing Presque Isle names in the country. Why so many? Presque Isle is French for “Almost an island.” When researching the Marquette location, be sure it’s Presque Isle Park on Peter White Dr, Marquette, MI 49855.
- More than 14,000 complaints came into the Marquette dispatch in 2022. The largest category was drunk, loud people disturbing the peace. While you want to have fun and let loose, you shouldn’t do it at the expense of others who might want a more peaceful experience. Don’t drink to excess where you can’t walk or talk normally.
- You won’t be able to plan a trip that guarantees a Northern Lights sighting. It’s a luck of the draw, but you can plan for times of year to be MORE likely to see them. September and March are the best time of year, with October and February being the next most likely. NOAA’s “Space Weather Enthusiasts Dashboard” provide the best guidance to the celestial skies, but you should know the Northern Lights usually come with less than 48 hours of a heads-up.
- Marquette, Michigan, has nothing to do with Marquette University, which is 300 miles south in Milwaukee. Search results can often bring up crimes or safety issues at the university. If a crime report is in Wisconsin, you know it’s the wrong Marquette. In the same spirit, Marquette Mall in Michigan City is actually in the state of Indiana.
So... How Safe Is Marquette Really?
The typical violent and property crime rates are low here, as of the 2021 official data.
The biggest problem in Marquette and the county is drugs.
Since 2018, the methamphetamine felony charges have increased a whopping 1000% percent (not a typo).
“We have a great community, and you go around town to the beautiful places we have; that’s not where you will find meth.
You’re not going to find meth on college campuses,” Matt Wiese, Marquette County Prosecutor, told a local news outlet.
“It’s the end stage of addiction for most people, and it’s all in dark cracks and crevasses of the county.”
You can be as adventurous as you’d like in Marquette, but don’t experiment with drugs.
In addition to the inherent risks, many drugs in America are now laced with an untraceable amount of Fentanyl, which is fueling an Opioid Overdose Crisis.
Essentially, Marquette is as safe as you choose to be with all the weather and wilderness risks.
Even ski resorts and parks have safety sections dictating everything from outdoor etiquette to state laws to personal safety.
I’m an outdoorsy person, and while I can look at things like ice climbing and cliff diving and think it’s cool, I’d rather take my scuba license and search a shipwreck or hunt for Yooperlites with a blacklight to fulfill my beachcombing and rock hounding spirit.
You have to realize just how remote this area is.
You are hours away – in good weather – from any major city, and you’re more likely to see a bear than a person in some wilderness regions.
Mobile phone service will be scarce, and not knowing how to use a compass or GPS could make a survivable situation turn tragic.
Enjoy the region’s amenities, but be safe enough to enjoy telling your U.P. stories for years to come.
How Does Marquette Compare?
|Siem Reap (Cambodia)
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
|Niagara Falls (Canada)
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
You'll need a U.S. visa geared toward the purpose of your visit. There are separate visas for students and just those coming as tourists. Use the State Department website to find the right visa for your trip, and don't exaggerate your purpose to get a faster visa. If you get denied, you have to start the arduous process all over again.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. If you plan to take the Lake Superior Circle Tour, you will go through Canada (and 1,300 miles), so you'll need the Canadian dollar too. Exchange currency at the border if you're crossing into Canada; otherwise, take care of that in your home country to get the lowest fees.
Plan for all four seasons, but bring winter clothing even in the summer - at least pants and sweatshirts. Winters will need warm, insulated, waterproof layers. Many outdoor outfitter stores will help you plan for maximum comfort and safety during a rugged wilderness trip. Never bring a new pair of hiking or snow boots to a place like this. Break them in well in advance to avoid sore feet and blisters.
Sawyer International Airport is less than 30 minutes south and can get you to Chicago or Detroit. If you insist on going to a major airport, you'll drive three hours to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Detroit is twice as far away by car.
Travel insurance should include the basic protection of flights and refunds in case of emergencies. However, consider extensive adventure, skiing, or camping insurance for the inherent risks that come with the rewards of a region this amazing.
Marquette Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month
Michigan - Safety by City
|Sault Ste. Marie