About the Area

E6248 US2


The almost one million acre Ottawa National Forest is located throughout the western half of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The forest has five ranger districts and a nursery that serves the Upper Peninsula. Three Wilderness areas are part of the Ottawa National Forest: Sylvania Wilderness Area, McCormick Wilderness Area, and Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness.

The Supervisor's Office (SO) is located just east of Ironwood on US 2. The SO houses the forest supervisor and administers lands, engineering, fisheries, recreation, wilderness, heritage resources, botany and planning.

The Eastern Time Zone cuts across the heart of the Forest with the supervisor's office, Bessemer, Iron River and Watersmeet being in the Central Time Zone and Kenton and Ontonagon being in the Eastern Time Zone.

With a population of approximately 7,000, Ironwood offers a small town lifestyle with unique opportunities to experience four seasons of the wonders of nature and recreational activities year-round. Located on the Michigan-Wisconsin border, Ironwood serves as the gateway to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Is 100 miles east of Duluth, Minnesota; 17 miles south of Lake Superior; and 155 miles north of Wausau, Wisconsin. Elevation is 1,200 feet. Once a prosperous iron-mining town with more than triple the current population, it is steadily turning into a year-round tourist center. During ski season, there can be as many as 15,000 people in the area frequenting the six area ski hills and resorts with an abundance of snowmobilers frequenting the many trails across the Forest.

Weather in the Upper Peninsula is seasonal in nature. Summers are cool and run from mid-May into early September. Winters are fairly long with an average snow accumulation of about 200 inches. Temperatures average in the 70's during the summer and stay above zero most of the winter. January temperatures can drop to -40 degrees with daytime temperatures averaging about 15 degrees.

The area is known for its year-round recreation opportunities. Spring brings the winter run-off with the Ottawa's many waterfalls at their most spectacular viewing, and canoeing and kayaking at their peak. Summer recreation opportunities include camping, hiking, fishing, and canoeing. The Ironwood area also has three good 18-hole golf courses. The Wilderness areas as well as many of the more remote lakes offer a quiet solitude and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With the advent of fall comes the turning of the northern hardwood leaves and nature's fantastic colors are in full array. Fall hunting for small and big game is superb. Winter recreation enthusiasts delight in the Ottawa's location in the heart of "Big Snow Country." Winter opportunities include skiing, (cross country and downhill), snowboarding, skijoring, snow shoeing and ice fishing. The Ottawa is able to offer a wide variety of recreation opportunities and affordable living within full service communities. 


Ironwood has two public grade schools, one parochial grade school and one high school. Gogebic Community College, a two-year college, offers academic, vocational, technical, and community service events. All have active sports programs.

Michigan Technological University is located two hours north and east in Houghton, Michigan; Northland College is one hour west In Ashland, Wisconsin; Northern Michigan University is two and a half hours west and features an Olympic training Center; the University of Wisconsin-superior is two hours west in Superior, Wisconsin; and the university of Minnesota-Duluth is two and a quarter hours west in Duluth Minnesota.


Grand View Hospital provides a full range of in and outpatient services. Specialists in a wide range of medicine including surgical, orthopedic, obstetrics, and optical services are located adjacent to the hospital area in clinics built since 1985.

Clinics are located in Duluth, MN; Marquette, MI; Woodruff, WI and Marshfield, WI.

Great Lakes Airlines offers daily flights from Ironwood to Chicago and Minneapolis while Northwest Airlink flights are available out of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, which is 60 miles to the south.

Area restaurants feature home cooking cafes, fast food chains, and ethnic and gourmet specialties. Theaters, tennis, golf, and shopping enhances the area's active lifestyle. 


Michigan State income tax is 4.2% of adjusted gross income. Sales tax for Michigan is 6%, excluding groceries. There are no city or county income taxes. 


Currently rental and home purchase opportunities are very good. There is a full range of private realtors to assist in locating properties and/or rentals.

Ironwood's housing is reasonably priced and includes some attractive investment opportunities running the entire price range ($25,000 to $79,000 for an average home). Rentals for a three-bedroom house run from $250 to $400 per months. There are several apartment complexes, which have occasion vacancies, and ski chalets and condos can be rented reasonably outside of the winter ski season. There is no forest service housing available in the area.


Community organizations include Senior Citizens Groups, Kiwanis, Rotary, Elks, Masons, Knights of Columbus, American Legion, VFW, Jaycees, church affiliated groups and two in-house theatre groups. Youth groups include Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H, Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball Leagues, Polar Bear Hockey, and Ice Crystals Figure Skating Club in a newer indoor arena.


Special places and events making this area "someplace special" include outstanding fishing for walleye on Lake Gogebic (largest inland lake in the U.P.) and fishing for lake trout and coho on Lake Superior; amateur theater groups; fall color tours for viewing the spectacular northern hardwood colors; hunting for agates on the Lake Superior beaches; the 4th of July celebration and the Pumpkin Festival in Bessemer; the annual Paavo Nurmi Marathon at Hurley, Wisconsin, Ironwood's next door neighbor; ski jumping at local ski hills; snowmobile races; the Ironwood Festival (third week of July); the Renaissance Fair; the Jack Frost Celebration and many county fairs, to name a few.