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Supernatural Spotlight: The Legend of Michigan’s Paulding Light

Are you fascinated by the paranormal or unexplained mysteries? Below, we take a deep dive into the mysterious legend of Michigan’s Paulding Light, the spooky lights in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near where we are from. 

Annually, tourists and locals gather in the valley outside Paulding, Michigan, to experience the anomalous glow that people have reported since the 1960s. While investigators and Michigan Tech students have tried to find a rational explanation for the lights, paranormal folklore holds strong. So what is Paulding Light, and should you visit?

Join us as we unlock the mysteries of Michigan’s Paulding Light. 

The Paulding Ghost Light!

The Legend of Michigan’s Paulding Light

Michigan’s Paulding Light is a baffling phenomenon that has puzzled visitors and locals for decades. You can find it in the remote wilderness of the Upper Peninsula. This enigmatic light has sparked numerous theories and legends, attracting curious minds worldwide. Many have witnessed the eerie glow hovering above the horizon, with various eyewitness accounts describing it as a single light or a series of lights that change colors. Despite numerous investigations, scientists and experts have failed to provide an explanation that satisfies everyone.

Naturally, the puzzling nature of this phenomenon has given way to its fair share of lore. Some believe the lights are the spirits of lost souls or the ghost of a railroad brakeman who died tragically on the nearby tracks. Others believe the light is from the ghost of a mailman who was murdered decades earlier. Other stories claim it’s the ghost of a Native American dancing on the powerlines in the valley. 

What Makes Paulding Light So Mysterious?

The lack of a definitive explanation contributes to the allure of the Paulding Light. Witnesses report seeing a bright light that appears in the distance, hovering above the railroad tracks in a remote area. They say the light changes colors and moves in unpredictable patterns, floating and dancing across the landscape. Some describe it as a white ball of light, while others claim it takes on a reddish or bluish hue.

Numerous theories have been put forth to explain the Paulding Light, ranging from the paranormal and supernatural to more scientific explanations. Some believe it may be spirits trying to communicate, while others suggest it might be swamp gas, atmospheric reflections, or car headlights from a distant highway playing tricks on the eyes.

Researchers and investigators have attempted to study the Paulding Light. Skeptics continue to question the reliability of eyewitness accounts, while believers hold on to their experiences as evidence of something beyond our current understanding of the natural world.

Paulding light map
Head to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to view the mysterious Paulding Light.

What Exactly are the Spooky Lights in Michigan?

A group of researchers in the 1990s sought to discover a rational explanation for the Paulding Light. Using a telescopic, spectroscopic, and travel time analysis, they concluded that the Paulding Light was the glow from Route 45, about five miles north of the remote area. If this is the case then we personally have probably created the light as we have driven this road many times.

To add to their study, in 2010, a group of engineering students conducted a series of experiments in the area to determine the origin of the lights once and for all. By using a telescope, they were able to see vehicles and signs on the far-away highway. Ultimately, they determined that an inversion layer (a section of the atmosphere where the temperature becomes warmer with elevation), created an environment allowing the lights to remain visible from much farther away.

Still, there seems to be no consensus regarding the exact source of the lights. Not to mention, it’s much more fun to speculate about ghostly origins than whether the blue hues are from police cruisers passing down the highway. 

Pro Tip: Use our Complete Guide to Camping in the Upper Peninsula when planning your trip to the Paulding Light.

Paulding mystery light from Detroit Free Press
It has yet to be determined what is the real cause of the mysterious Paulding Light.
Source: Detroit Free Press

When Is the Best Time to See Paulding Light?

The best time to see the Paulding Light is during the fall, typically from late September through early November. Fall weather conditions tend to be more stable, leading to clearer skies and better visibility. Additionally, the absence of dense foliage allows for a broader and unobstructed view of the area, making it easier to spot any unusual lights.

We also recommend visiting the site on a moonless night, as the absence of moonlight reduces light pollution and makes the phenomenon more distinct. Be sure to arrive after dusk when the surroundings are dark enough to see the glowing lights. 

How to Get to Paulding Light

The Paulding Light is in the town of Paulding on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Regardless if you’re coming from the north or south, you’ll take Route 45 to the general area. One of the best places to observe it is off Robbins Road, a dead-end road in a rural, wooded area. Once you arrive in the vicinity, you’ll find designated parking areas or roadside spots where you can park your vehicle. As always, be respectful of local regulations and private properties.

Street view of Paulding Light from Google Maps
The Paulding Light is a paranormal hunter’s ideal destination.
Source: Google Maps

Other Creepy Places to Visit in Michigan 

If you’re taking a spooky road trip to Michigan, you’ll want to plan a visit to a few other paranormal hot spots. Below are three must-see attractions for thrill-seekers and those who love the unexplained. 

Michigan’s First State Prison 

Step back in time as you explore the chilling history of Michigan’s first prison. Located in Jackson, Michigan, and established in the early 1830s, this formidable structure stood as a symbol of justice and punishment. Now, it serves as a site for ghostly tales and paranormal encounters. 

Visitors, staff, and even nearby residents have reported encounters with otherworldly beings and unexplained phenomena. Eerie whispers echo through the empty corridors, while phantom footsteps pace the cold cell blocks at night. Some even claim to have seen apparitions of former inmates. 

JACKSON MICHIGAN STATE PRISON

Fort Holmes 

Fort Holmes is a historical gem on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Dating to the War of 1812, Fort Holmes served as a strategic outpost, offering panoramic views of the surrounding waters and safeguarding the island against potential threats. It has seen military actions, changing hands between British and American forces, and undergoing periods of abandonment and restoration. 

However, it is not only the echoes of battle that echo through the fort’s stone walls. Fort Holmes has gained notoriety for numerous paranormal sightings and unexplained phenomena, similar to the Paulding Light. Visitors have reported eerie encounters with ghostly apparitions roaming the grounds. Some believe these spirits belong to fallen soldiers, while others arrive for a history lesson. Regardless, a visit to Fort Holmes isn’t for the faint of heart. 

Michigan's most haunted: Mackinac

The Whitney

Dating to the late 19th century, The Whitney is one of Detroit’s most iconic landmarks. The historical mansion was once the residence of David Whitney Jr. but now serves as a destination for fine dining and the infamous “Ghost Bar,” named for the spooky encounters that many visitors report. 

Guests have recounted spine-chilling experiences with apparitions, noises echoing through empty corridors, and shadows darting in the corners of their vision. Some think the restless souls of former staff members and guests roam the premises, bound to the mansion.

Haunted Whitney | Ghost Stories, Paranormal, Supernatural, Hauntings, Horror

Pro Tip: These 9 Most Fascinating Ghost Towns in Michigan are the perfect addition to your road trip itinerary.

Is Visiting Paulding Light Worth It? 

The decision to visit the Paulding Light ultimately depends on your level of fascination with the supernatural. While the light’s origin remains uncertain, the thrill of witnessing it is an experience like no other. Whether you believe in ghosts or scientific anomalies, the Paulding Light offers a chance to embrace mystery and wonder.

So, if you find yourself in the Great Lakes State, don’t miss the opportunity to witness the mysterious glow in the woods and other spooky destinations that make Michigan perfect for paranormal enthusiasts. 

Would you ever visit Paulding Light? Let us know in the comments below. 

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About Cait Morton

Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

With a background in Business Management, she supports and helps channel Tom’s technical prowess into the helpful content our readers and viewers expect. That’s not to say you won’t find her turning wrenches and talking shop – RV life is a team effort. She keeps the business and the blog moving forward with a variety of topics and resources for our audience.

Believe it or not, she is rather camera shy, though she co-hosts the Mortons’ personal videos and The RVers TV show.

Caitlin’s passion lies in outdoor recreation and with animals. Some of her favorite things to do are hiking, biking, and getting out on the water via kayak, SUP, or boat.

She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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