SAULT STE. MARIE, MI: SOO LOCKS

SAULT STE. MARIE, MI: Soo Locks

  • Location: Soo Locks
  • Address: Soo Locks, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
  • Website: saultstemarie.com

Overview

The Soo Locks are located at Sault Ste. Marie, MI in the Upper Peninsula. There is also a Canadian Sault Ste. Marie across St. Marys River. This post is strictly about the US Sault Ste. Marie, which is a small industrial town. The Soo Locks are its largest tourist attraction. They aren’t just for tourism, they are also necessary for freighters to cross from St. Marys River to Lake Superior. Without the locks boats would not be able to pass the 21 foot drop between these bodies of water.

Getting There

Sault Ste. Marie was a destination on our Michigan road trip and was easy to get to by car. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way just to see the Soo Locks. Instead, make it a part of a larger trip like we did. I’d suggest also adding Tahquamenon Falls to your Upper Peninsula itinerary since it is only a hour and a half outside Sault Ste. Marie. The downtown area is small and hotels will fill up. We stayed in a newly built Hampton Inn outside the Soo Locks. It was a quick 10 minutes to get to the observation deck from there. Street parking downtown wasn’t a problem as long as you are comfortable parallel parking.

Map of Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Tips

  1. Before you go to the observation deck at the Soo Locks, check the boat timetable here.
  2. After you check the timetable for which freighters you want to see, assume these boats are NOT going to be on time. You can expect them to be anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours later than the timetable.
  3. Get there around the time the freighter is supposed to arrive and if you don’t see it take a walk around town.
  4. Across the street from the observation deck there are souvenir shops and restaurants where you can kill some extra time.
  5. The freighters passing through the locks can weigh more than 100,000 tons and will move very sloooow.
  6. If all else fails, while you are waiting there are some Pokémon Go stops and pocket monsters you can catch. Turn on your AR and get a fun screenshot of Pokémon on the Soo Locks.
  7. When you finally see the freighter coming take a time-lapse on your phone!
  8. If you want to skip this all together or were not able to see the Soo Locks in action, there is always this Soo Locks skycam to check out.

A Taste of What You Can See

Below is a glimpse of the Soo Locks from the observation deck off W Portage Ave. Along that same street there are also some souvenir shops and restaurants. Below is also a time-lapse I took while watching one of the huge freighters coming into the lock.

Time-lapse of a freighter coming into the Soo Locks. This video makes it seem like it was moving at a good speed, but in reality I could have out run that freighter.

If you are into freighters or have a fascination with locks then I recommend the Soo Locks. For others that are not into the idea of waiting hours to see a boat, maybe skip this and check out the Soo Locks skycam instead. I personally thought the Soo Locks were overrated.

If you’ve been here before I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Happy Travels,

Laura

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Sault Ste. Marie Pinterest

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