Geography of Gogebic County, Michigan

By | March 14, 2024

Gogebic County, located in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is a region defined by its rugged natural beauty, abundant water resources, and rich mining heritage. Encompassing approximately 1,102 square miles, the county is known for its diverse landscapes, including dense forests, pristine lakes, and scenic rivers. This article will explore the geography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other notable features that define Gogebic County. Check allunitconverters to learn more about the state of Michigan.

Physical Features:

  • Forest and Woodlands: Gogebic County is predominantly covered by dense forests and woodlands, consisting mainly of coniferous trees such as white pine, red pine, and spruce, as well as hardwoods like maple, birch, and oak. These forests provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including deer, black bears, wolves, and numerous bird species. The county’s forests also support the timber industry, which has been a significant economic driver in the region for over a century.
  • Gogebic Range: The Gogebic Range, also known as the Penokee-Gogebic Iron Range, is a geological formation that extends across Gogebic County and into neighboring Wisconsin. The range is rich in iron ore deposits, which were extensively mined during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While mining activity has declined in recent decades, the Gogebic Range remains an important part of the county’s history and identity.
  • Lakes and Rivers: Gogebic County is home to numerous lakes and rivers, which are a central feature of the region’s landscape and recreational opportunities. Lake Gogebic, the largest inland lake in the Upper Peninsula, covers over 13,000 acres and offers fishing, boating, and camping opportunities. Other notable lakes in the county include Indianhead Lake, Black River Lake, and Thousand Island Lake. The Black River, Montreal River, and Presque Isle River are among the major rivers that flow through the county, providing scenic beauty and outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, and whitewater rafting.


Gogebic County experiences a humid continental climate, characterized by cold, snowy winters and mild, humid summers.

  • Winter: Winters in Gogebic County are long, cold, and snowy, with temperatures often dropping well below freezing and snowfall occurring frequently. Lake-effect snow from nearby Lake Superior can contribute to heavy snowfall totals, particularly in the northern part of the county. Average snowfall ranges from 100 to 200 inches annually, making the region a popular destination for winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.
  • Summer: Summers in Gogebic County are generally mild and pleasant, with temperatures averaging in the 60s to 70s°F (15-25°C) during the day. However, humidity levels can be high, especially during periods of warm weather. Summer is a popular time for outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, hiking, and camping, as well as sightseeing and exploring the county’s natural attractions.
  • Spring and Fall: Spring and fall are transitional seasons in Gogebic County, characterized by fluctuating temperatures and changing weather patterns. Spring brings melting snow, budding trees, and the return of migratory birds, while fall brings colorful foliage, cooler temperatures, and preparations for winter. Both seasons offer opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and enjoying the natural beauty of the region.

Rivers and Lakes:

  • Lake Gogebic: Lake Gogebic is the largest inland lake in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, covering over 13,000 acres and reaching depths of up to 35 feet. The lake is a popular destination for fishing, with abundant populations of walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, and perch. Boating, swimming, and camping are also popular activities on Lake Gogebic, which is surrounded by forests and offers scenic views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Black River: The Black River flows through Gogebic County, originating in Wisconsin and emptying into Lake Superior. The river is known for its scenic beauty, waterfalls, and recreational opportunities. The Black River National Forest Scenic Byway follows the river’s course, offering access to waterfalls such as Rainbow Falls, Sandstone Falls, and Gorge Falls. The river provides habitat for fish, waterfowl, and other wildlife, as well as opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing.
  • Montreal River: The Montreal River forms part of the border between Gogebic County and Wisconsin, flowing into Lake Superior. The river is known for its rapids, waterfalls, and rugged beauty, as well as its historical significance as a transportation route for Native American tribes and European fur traders. The Montreal River offers opportunities for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and fishing, as well as scenic drives along its banks.

Human Impact:

  • Mining Heritage: Gogebic County has a rich mining heritage, dating back to the mid-19th century when iron ore was first discovered in the region. The Gogebic Range became one of the largest iron mining districts in the United States, attracting thousands of immigrants and laborers to the area. While mining activity has declined in recent decades, the legacy of mining is still evident in the county’s landscape, economy, and culture.
  • Tourism: Tourism is an important industry in Gogebic County, driven by its natural beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, and historical attractions. Visitors come from across the region and beyond to experience the county’s lakes, rivers, forests, and waterfalls, as well as its charming small towns and historic sites. Outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, and snowmobiling are popular, as are cultural and historical attractions such as museums, heritage sites, and festivals celebrating the county’s mining heritage.
  • Conservation: Conservation efforts are underway in Gogebic County to protect and preserve its natural resources for future generations. Organizations such as the Ottawa National Forest, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and local conservation groups work to conserve open space, protect wildlife habitat, and promote sustainable land use practices. Efforts are also underway to address environmental issues such as habitat fragmentation, water pollution, and climate change, with initiatives to restore wetlands, improve water quality, and reduce carbon emissions.


In conclusion, Gogebic County, Michigan, offers a diverse mix of natural landscapes, outdoor recreational opportunities, and cultural heritage. From its forests and lakes to its rivers and waterfalls, the county is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and nature lovers alike. Despite the challenges posed by its harsh climate and industrial past, Gogebic County remains a resilient and vibrant community with a deep connection to its land and heritage. Through conservation, tourism, and sustainable development, the county is poised to continue thriving for generations to come.