When you think of Detroit, the first thing that comes to mind might be Detroit, the Motor City. Did you know that one of Michigan’s best national parks is located just south of the city? In fact, Michigan borders four of the Great Lakes, meaning that there are plenty of beautiful places to spend time in the Great Lakes State. Michigan is home to several national parks which offer educational and recreational opportunities for the entire family and show off the splendor and beauty of this amazing state. Visit one, or use your Michigan vacation rental as your home base, and visit them all!
1. Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park is a rugged, isolated island surrounded by Lake Superior. This island has been left mostly untouched and offers opportunities for reflection and discovery as well as adventures for backpackers, hikers, boaters, kayakers, canoeists and scuba divers. The scenery is unparalleled, and this national park is a great way to step back in time and see what Michigan was like before civilization. This is the perfect destination for those who want to get off the grid and experience peace and solitude. The only way to get to Isle Royale is by boat or seaplane.
2. Keweenaw National Park
This national park is devoted entirely to commemorating copper mining in the United States. From 7,000 years ago to the 1900’s people mined Keweenaw copper. That copper was made into tools and trade items by natives, and much of the copper that is found there has been used for thousands of years by settlers and Native Americans. You can actually go down into a mine that operated from 1850 to 1920 and eat lunch there!
3. Motor Cities National Heritage Area
Motors Cities National Heritage Area is located just south of Motor City itself, and it’s definitely the place to be if you’re interested in automotive history. Here, you can tour the factory where Henry Ford created and built the Model T, learn the stories behind the creation of General Motors and Damiler Chrysler, and find out more about the tenuous relationship between Labor and Industry.
4. North Country National Scenic Trail
The North Country National Scenic Trail is the longest hiking path in America’s National Trails System. It stretches across seven states, from North Dakota to New York and will be 4600 miles long when completed. Almost 1500 of the 4600 miles of this national trail are located in the state of Michigan. Trek the hills and valleys and discover a diversity of north country landscapes from lakes and streams to tall grass prairies.
5. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks have something for everybody. Explore miles of pristine beaches, hike over 100 miles of trails, or experience the serenity of the northern hardwood forest. It’s unlike any other place on Lake Superior. It’s the most crowded from mid-June until mid-August, so try to plan an autumn or spring visit instead. In the spring, trails are covered with wildflowers, and in the fall, everything comes alive with orange, red, and yellow.
6. River Raisin National Battlefield Park
River Raisin is a national battlefield park that preserves, commemorates, and interprets the January 1813 battles of the War of 1812, during which the British and Native Americans defeated American troops. Remember the Raisin! became a rallying cry for American soldiers for the rest of the war. This battle cry helped motivate the troops to fight back and reclaim the Northwest Territories. Also located just outside of Detroit, you can easily find a vacation rental in the city and then come visit a piece of living war history.
7. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is more traditionally outdoorsy with its dramatic ridges of sand, beaches, forests, lakes, farmsteads, and even a little village. Get spectacular views of the lake from the high dunes, or take a peek into Michigan’s rich maritime, agricultural, and recreational history from the island lighthouse, US Life-Saving Service stations, coastal villages, and picturesque farmsteads. Often voted one of the most breathtaking spots in all of Michigan, Sleeping Bear is an absolute must-visit.
8. Mackinac Island National Historic Landmark
Mackinac Island offers beautiful vistas, shopping, and carriage rides.As soon as you step off the Island Ferry Dock, you will be transported to a living Victorian village. The only transportation here is horse and buggy, bicycle or foot. Explore the historic Fort Mackinac, or take a stroll through bustling downtown. Thanks to the extensive historical preservation and restoration, the entire island is listed as a National Historic Landmark.
9. Strait State Park
This historic state park hosts the Father Marquette Memorial which honors the Jesuit priest who established Michigan’s first permanent settlement. It tells the story of Father Jacques Marquette and the meeting of French and Native American cultures in the 17th-century deep in the North American interior. Today, Father Marquette is recognized as one of the great explorers of the North American continent. Within the park, there is also an outdoor interpretive trail, a picnic area, and an observation platform overlooking the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits of Mackinac.
10. Huron-Manistee National Forests
Huron-Manistee National Forests covers nearly one-million-acres between the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron in the northern half of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Here, you’ll find rare ecological features, such as dry sand prairie remnants, coastal marshlands, dunes, oak savannahs, fens, bogs and marshes.
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