RV Rental Sault Ste. Marie, MI

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The town of Sault Ste. Marie lies at the northeastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula along the banks of the St. Mary’s River, about 60 miles north of Mackinac Island. Often referred to as “the Sault” or “the Soo” by locals, it has an incredibly important role in America’s transportation infrastructure as the St. Mary River connects Lake Huron and Lake Superior and is one of the busiest shipping channels in the country. The channel and associated locks were built to bypass a set of rapids that prevented ships from traversing farther up into the Great Lakes. Sault Ste. Marie proper sits on an island between the shipping channel and the St. Mary River but has expanded to encompass areas on the mainland to the south of the shipping channel.

On the opposite side of the river, there is a city of the same name: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The Canadian counterpart is a few times larger in population and area thanks to greater industrialization and the city’s importance to the province of Ontario. The International Bridge on Interstate 75 connects the two cities and is a fantastic place to see the massive ships known as “Lakers” traversing the channel.

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The Great Outdoors

This part of the state is beloved by outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its abundant forests and literally hundreds of lakes to be explored. While kayaking in the St. Mary River might sound like an exciting way to spend the afternoon, shipping traffic greatly impacts the experience. Instead, take your boat over to Waiska Bay, near the entrance to Lake Superior and the town of Brimley. The river is much wider here, and if you stick close to shore, there shouldn’t be any issues with ship traffic.

If you book an RV in Sault Ste. Marie during the winter months, be sure to check out the International 500 Snowmobile Race. It’s one of the largest of its kind and attracts motorsports fans from all over northern Michigan and southern Ontario. To find some fun of your own in the snow, visit Sault Seal Recreation Area on the south side of town, where there is a fantastic sledding hill.

For a beautiful stroll, take a walk through the forests of Naomikong Overlook. The trail is quite short but has some breathtaking views of Lake Superior, and since this is the Upper Peninsula, you’ll never find it crowded.

RV Parks

The Upper Peninsula is well known as a camper’s mecca, so it’s no surprise that there’s an abundance of great campgrounds available when you get a motorhome rental in Sault Ste Marie. One of the closest is Soo Locks Campground, just off the downtown area and with excellent views of the Laker ships. They offer water and electrical hookups for your Sault Ste. Marie RV rental along with a dump station and flush toilets. As it’s next to a busy shipping channel, don’t expect the quietest camping experience.

Just down the road from Soo Locks Campground is Aune Osborn Campgrounds. Similar to Soo Locks, their sites have electrical and water hookups but no sewer, along with a dump station and bathrooms.

More rustic campsites can be found a bit south of town on the banks of Lake Superior at Brimley State Park. Sites there have electrical hookups for your travel trailer rental from Sault Ste. Marie. There’s a dump station, and there are showers available nearby. Most visitors choose to stay for its quiet atmosphere, excellent fishing opportunities, and a beautiful swimming beach.

If you’re considering a trip into Canada when you rent an RV here, there’s an even greater variety of campgrounds there including a KOA. However, visitors that are only staying for a couple of nights might want to sleep in the parking lot of Walmart. You’ll need to get the manager’s permission first, but this could be a good option for short-term campers.

Exploring the City

Sault Ste. Marie is based around the shipping channel, so if you want to learn a little bit about the culture and history of the town, the best place to do it is Museum Ship Valley Camp. It’s housed inside a retired freighter, which gives a sense of how large these vessels really are. Inside, you’ll find all sorts of exhibits displaying boat building tools and the history of Great Lakes shipping; there’s even an aquarium stocked with local fish.

You also might want to check out the River of History Museum, which has quite a lot to offer when it comes to the historical context of the shipping channel. Many of the exhibits feature narration regarding the Native American inhabitants of the Upper Peninsula and their interactions with French fur traders in the 17 and 18th centuries.

Another great historical tour when you get a camper rental in Sault Ste. Marie can be found at the Water Street Historic Block. It’s a set of four houses filled with artifacts from prominent families in the town’s early history. It's also an excellent place to watch the ships pass through the Soo Locks channel.

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Popular nearby hiking trails and campgrounds

  • Hiking TrailLocation
  • Sault Sainte Marie to Whitefish Point, MIParadise, MI
  • Hub Trail, ONSault Ste. Marie, ON
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  • Whitefish Point & the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum Trail, MIParadise, MI
  • Tahquamonan Falls -Upper Falls, MITahquamenon Falls State Park, MI
  • Upper and Lower Tahquamenon Falls, MITahquamenon Falls State Park, MI
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