So, the Keweenaw. The geology there is fairly unique; it was originally a rift zone, where the North American continent tried to split in two. As a result there's a lot of volcanic rock, mostly basalt. The rock strata got heaved up at an 80 degree angle, creating some cliffs and jagged hills with exposed bedrock that are very different from most of Michigan. The bedrock is so shallow that many building basements in the area weren't dug, they were blasted out. It was once a major copper mining area -- around 95% of the copper for the whole country came from there in the mid to late 1800s! Most of the mines shut down in the 1930s, with a few hanging on into the 1960s. As a result there's a *lot* of old industrial infrastructure there. The copper itself was unusual; it wasn't an oxide or an ore, but actual flecks of metallic copper embedded in the rock. Quincy Mine has a very large piece of "mass copper" on display, a solid piece of nearly pure, naturally-occurring copper weighing hundreds of pounds. MTU used to have one on display outside but I didn't see it last time I was there. It may have been moved somewhere to protect it from theft, since a quarter-ton of pure copper is worth quite a lot these days.
A few places do mine tours; the most accessible is probably the Quincy Mine north of Hancock. I understand Quincy Smelter now has a tour, too -- when I was in college it was abandoned and people used to sneak in.
If you drive past Torch Lake, keep an eye out for two sunken dredges and a concrete building that used to be a plant for processing mine tailings.
I highly recommend making a loop of M-26 and US-41, especially in the fall. M-26 will take you up the western coast of the Keweenaw Peninsula, through dunes and rocky shorelines, with good views of Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Reef. US-41 goes down the middle of the peninsula and is a tunnel of trees for much of its length. The northern terminus of US-41 is a small turn-around loop in the woods just north of Copper Harbor (the other end is in Miami, FL.) If you're feeling adventurous, a seasonal gravel road called Mandan Road continues north from here. A fork off of this road leads to a remote beach where NASA launched sounding rockets -- google "Keweenaw Rocket Range" for details. There's occasionally active logging along some of those roads, so keep an eye out for any warning signs about truck traffic.
Take the Brockway Mountain Drive turn off M-26 for stunning views of Lake Superior. This is well marked until about mid-October, when they take the sign down to protect it from being damaged by snowplows. Yearly snow totals can exceed 300 inches, so snow removal is no joke. In Houghton you'll see parking meters set back against the storefronts instead of at the curb, for the same reason.
Many of the towns there, especially Houghton and Calumet, have a lot of buildings left over from when they were more prosperous. You'll see a lot of red sandstone -- this was quarried over by Jacobsville, and gets its color from a high iron content. Many of the roadways and sidewalks are pink from the iron-rich gravel used to make them.
There are two very nice state park campgrounds -- McLain State Park, and Fort Wilkins State Park. Both are nice, but I recommend McLain for its views of Lake Superior and the Portage Canal entry. Reservations are recommended, I'm not the only one with a high opinion of it.
There are many waterfalls in the area, although in September they won't be as impressive and some may even be dry. Two that I recall are Manganese Falls (Manganese Road, south of Copper Harbor, often dry in the summer) and Haven Falls, which is in a little park near Lac La Belle. If waterfall hunting is your thing you can find extensive lists of Keweenaw waterfalls online.
Food and drink in Houghton:
- Ambassador Restaurant: Good thin-crust pub pizza. The plain brick exterior is misleading -- inside are cool old murals and a lovely view of the Portage Canal Lift Bridge from the back dining room. The lift bridge carries US-41, M-26, and (in the winter) a snowmobile trail across the canal.
- Suomi Restaurant: Excellent breakfast spot. Try the Nisu bread, a style of cardamom-flavored bread brought over by the Finnish immigrants who worked in the mines.
- Keweenaw Brewing Company: Good microbrew pub, popular with MTU students.
- The Library: Microbrewery and decent family-style restaurant with a view of the Portage Canal. Was originally a hole-in-the-wall bar until it burned down and was rebuilt -- look for the original wooden door hanging on one of the walls.
- Cyberia: Very chill coffee shop and Internet cafe in downtown Houghton.
Mosquitoes and biting black flies can be quite a nuisance in swampy areas -- bring bug repellent! Black bears live in the area but are generally too shy to create problems for campers. Take precautions against ticks when hiking in the brush; the risk of Lyme disease is low but it does happen up there.