Wisconsin Highways: Since 1997.

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Lake Michigan Circle Tour

Lake Michigan Circle Tour route markerWhile a loosely-organized "circle route" around Lake Superior was promoted by local tourist organizations as early as the 1960s, the first official (and signed) Great Lakes Circle Tour was the Lake Michigan Circle Tour. The only single-nation Circle Tour (Lake Michigan being the only Great Lake completely within the US, of course), the LMCT also is the longer of the two Circle Tours in the state.

Initially working in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA) helped to make the first of the official Great Lakes Circle Tours a reality. After Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana all jumped on board with the concept and helped complete a closed loop around the lake. A short history from the WMTA website:

The Circle Tour route and its first Guide were the culmination of innovation and hard work by the WMTA staff, led by visionary Jack Morgan of the Michigan Department of Transportation. Just 14 months after Morgan introduced his Circle Tour concept in 1987, agreement was reached on routes and signed to be posted along all 1,100 miles of Lake Michigan's shoreline.

WMTA was tapped to produce the first guide book. More than a dozen years later, the publication continues to help travelers navigate the four-state route, which winds through some of the nation's wildest country and one of its largest urban centers.

When the Chicago Tribune and Milwaukee Journal ran articles in 1988 about the colorful, 52-page Guide, no one on WMTA's staff anticipated public reaction. On Monday following the story, 150 callers from the Chicago area alone requested the new publication. Two days later, an overburdened mail carrier unloaded 700 requests for the Guide from Illinois and Wisconsin. The next day, more than 1,000 mail and phone requests poured in.

Lake Michigan Circle Tour Route

In Wisconsin, the mainline of the LMCT follows signed state highway routes in its entirety, although in some places the nearest state highway to the Lake Michigan may be several miles away. This route listing lists the official route as well as any locally-designated and marked "Lake Michigan Circle Tour Loops," which are generally posted with brown signs. These loop routes are detailed below the mainline route below:

Note: The "Circle Tour Road Route" description from the GLIN website is not only vague, but incorrect! Ignoring the vague routings in the Door Peninsula, Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Port Washington, the route also doesn't traverse "US-43" (that would be "I-43"). The routing of the LMCT on the GLIN website is Michigan is flat-out incorrect! The route included on this website has been personally researched by the website author in the field.

Lake Michigan Circle Tour Loop/Spur Route

Lake Michigan Circle Tour Loop route markerLake Michigan Carferry S.S. Badger spur route

While most Lake Michigan Circle Tour spur and loop routes simply involve an alternate highway routing diverging from the mainline route, this particular spur route is unique among them. On August 29, 1998, Lake Michigan Carferry's S.S. Badger which ferries automobiles, trucks and passengers between Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan was officially designated as a Lake Michigan Circle Tour spur route. The route traverses the following path:

Back to: Great Lakes Circle Tour page.

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