Copper Country experiences busy summer tourism season; construction causes traffic delays

The influx of visitors is being slowed down by major construction projects.
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:37 PM EDT
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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - Traffic is constant this summer in Houghton and Keweenaw counties as the tourism season heats up.

“We’re hearing really good things from our area hotels, and we expect this to be a strong summer,” said Brad Barnett, executive director of the Keweenaw Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Barnett says local campgrounds area seeing a large influx of tourists.

“We’re having a lot of people--just like last summer--interested in camping outdoors, whether it’s under a tent or with an RV,” he said. “Many of these places are already filled, both state and private campgrounds.”

Something Barnett hopes will bring in more tourism this season is an episode of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted on National Geographic, which highlights the Keweenaw. It is scheduled to air on Sunday, July 25, and the Visitors Bureau is hosting a showing of the episode at 9:00 p.m. at Michigan Tech’s Rozsa Center.

“When you have someone of Gordon Ramsay’s platform host a special, it’s going to bring a lot of attention,” said Barnett. “This is an international opportunity to see the best of the Copper Country, so we’re really excited about it. We’re going to reach a whole new audience and continue to build upon a lot of what makes this place special.”

Aside from hiring struggles slowing businesses down, construction is also causing delays, particularly in downtown Houghton and on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.

“They’re actually replacing the joints between the movable part of the bridge and the stationary part of the bridge,” explained Houghton City Manager Eric Waara. “Of course, the bridge is the one way to get to the Keweenaw, so everyone coming into town has to compress down into two lanes.”

Waara says work will wrap up near the start of the school year.

“That’s one saving grace of getting them all done at one time,” he said. “After this year and part of next, we don’t have any major things to do in the area, so we’ll get to have a couple of summers that things will move a lot easier.”

For more information on traffic configurations in Houghton for the summer, click here. Visit for details on the viewing of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted this Sunday.

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