MiTEP EarthCaches: City of Houghton 

MiTEP teachers have created over 30 high quality Michigan EarthCaches that can be used by other educators, students and the public to help translate Earth's processes into a local experience. These EarthCaches have been group into four categories based on their location: Midwestern National Parks, Southern Michigan, the Keweenaw Peninsula and the City of Houghton. Visit a MiTEP EarthCache for an exciting outdoor adventure that will teach you about how the Earth works!

Explore the MiTEP EarthCaches by Region

City of Houghton EarthCaches 

Places in Houghton


A'a Lava Glacial Erratic

Volcanoes in Michigan!? Giant mile high ice fields!? There is evidence of both found in giant boulders, right in Downtown Houghton's Franklin Square. How can they help explain our geologic past and why these resources are important to humans?

Allouez Conglomerate

The Allouez Conglomerate Boulder EarthCache is located in the business district of Houghton. The cache can be accessed by parking along Sheldon Street in the designated parking spaces. There is also a parking area behind the business district on East Lakeshore Drive. At the Allouez Conglomerate Boulder visitors will gain an understanding of how sedimentary rocks, like those found throughout the Keweenaw, can provide clues about past conditions on Earth.

Beware of Bent Trees

Bent trees give us a clue that this hill is on the move. This site is located on Michigan Tech University's hilly campus in Houghton, Michigan. The slope is between Phoenix and Cliff Drive. Park in the parking lot across the street.

Credit Union Petrology

In the city of Houghton, many buildings are being built and developed and recently among these is the Michigan Tech Employee's Federal Credit Union. Here you can see different types of rocks that have been cut and cemented together to form pillars and a decorative façade. By exploring this EarthCache, visitors can observe different rock types and infer about their origin.

Dolerite Layers in a Lava Flow

An excellent and easily accessible example of Dolerite can be seen in a large basalt boulder within the city limits of Houghton, Michigan.

Glacial Grooves

Houghton's hilltops are a good place to find glacial striations where rocks in glaciers left their mark on the basalt outcrops. On this hilltop, under a large survey maker, you will see how sediment mixed in with moving glacial ice cut grooves, scars, and scratches into the bedrock.

Houghton Outwash Boulders???

On the southeast side of Houghton EarthCache visitors are able to find a variety of boulders that have been left behind long ago by melting glaciers. Some of these boulders are examples of local rocks and some are ‘strangers‘ to the area, carried here from far away. Visitors will learn how this diverse group of boulders came to rest at this site and will be able to distinguish between ‘locals‘ rocks and those that are ‘strangers‘.

Houghton Lava Flow

This site which is behind a strip mall in the Keweenaw Peninsula provides a great opportunity to readily see volcanic flow from the Keweenaw Rift.

Huron Creek Waterfall

There are few natural beautiful places left within city limits across the developed world. Huron Creek falls, behind the Northern Foot Care Center in the far north west of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is one of them. It is tucked between residential neighborhoods and the fast developing Houghton, Mi. business district. Upstream and down from this natural fragment, the Huron Creek has been greatly impacted by direct and indirect human interactions. It is also one of the few spots in the watershed where the bedrock peaks out from the Quaternary glacial till that covers much of its area. This peak into the past will give us a look at how water works together with geologic history to shape the features we see in our landscape today.

Jacobsville Sandstone Buildings

Jacobsville Sandstone buildings are found throughout downtown Houghton and the Upper Peninsula. These sandstones were taken from the Lake Superior region, and used as building stones throughout the UP and other places in the United States.

Jacobsville Sandstone Churches

Jacobsville sandstone is a red sandstone found in the Upper Peninsula and portions of Ontario. There were 32 quarries in the Upper Peninsula which operated between 1870 and 1915. It was named Jacobsville sandstone after the town notable for its production, Jacobsville, Michigan. The Jacobsville sandstones contains mysterious white spots in the red sandstone. Scientist have proposed two theories to the causes of the white color which will be explored in this EarthCache.

The Keweenaw Boulder Garden

When you visit the Keweenaw Boulder Garden, you get the opportunity to go back in time and experience the geological history of Michigan. The garden was created so that it could be used to tell the geological story of these native Michigan rocks. The three basic rock groups are represented here, igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. The rocks found here are approximately one billion years old! Every rock has its story to tell and the rocks in this garden are waiting for you to come and learn their story.

Pilgrim River Delta

The Pilgrim River Delta is located off of US 41, Townsend Dr. There is a parking area and visitors will have to take a stroll over the Pilgrim River Bridge and down the boardwalk to get to the delta. By exploring this EarthCache visitors will be able to make observation on how the delta formed and make predictions on how the delta is changing.

Pilgrim River Fault

Many river valleys are strongly influenced by faults, the Pilgrim River is located along the great Keweenaw fault. Visitors will park in the Nara Parking Lot. From here it is a short walk along a paved trail. Visitors will need to cross highway M41 as the river flows on the opposite side of the parking lot (N 47° 6.085′ W 88° 31.029′). There is not a cleared path so do not be afraid to walk through the vegetation to see a better view! This cache is part of the MiTEP program in Houghton, check out some of our other caches!

Scales Creek Lava Flow

In the middle of a neighborhood in Houghton, nestled around houses, is a large basaltic outcrop showing evidence of the Scales Creek lava flow dating approximately 1 billion years in age.

Waterfront/Canal in Houghton

The Keweenaw waterway cuts through the Keweenaw Peninsula between the cities of Houghton and Hancock. This allows for a shorter shipping route, and gives ships a safe passage between two sections of Lake Superior. This canal is a natural formation, but also has been shaped and changed by humans over the years. The canal was dredged in the 1860's, increasing the depth and size of what had previously been a small river. This dredging allowed for larger ships to pass through the canal and more efficiently distribute the native copper that was mined in this area.