10 Michigan Parks for Your Must-See Adventure List

With one peninsula shaped like a mitten and the other like a fish, the state of Michigan is the 10th largest state in the US. Skirted by a 3,288 mile-long coastline, it is the largest freshwater coastline in the US. Surely this state is a treasure trove for any beach and fishing lover. And that’s not all that this exciting state has to offer. Michigan is home to the motor capital of the world, Detroit, the University of Michigan, the Meijer Gardens, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, the Mackinac Island that is stuck back in time, and so much more!

If you’re looking for views with lush woodland, flowing streams, and vibrant fauna, then stay focused! We’ve got all the best places in Michigan, which are sure to connect you with nature, down below.


Isle Royale National Park

 Isle Royale National Park

The country’s least visited national park but one with the most repeat visitors, Isle Royale consists of a main island surrounded by many smaller islands in the northern region of Lake Superior. Your journey starts by taking either a seaplane or a ferry to the island from Copper Harbor, Grand Portage, or Haughton. You’ll need to get your camping permits from Rock Harbor for one of the park’s 36 campsites.

It’s not uncommon to spot a snowshoe hare, fox, beaver, or a moose grazing on the grass and berry for lunch. Self-sufficiency and camping skills are a must along with a long trek to a camping site so you should definitely plan ahead of your trip. 


Ludington State Park

Ludington State Park

The Ludington State Park occupies an area of 5300 acres and is to the north on M-166, Ludington. The park houses three campgrounds, sandy beaches, scenic sand dunes, the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, wetlands, marshlands, and forests.

For all kayaking and canoe enthusiasts, the park has a unique and picturesque canoe pathway bounded by lush green trees and filled with wildlife, waterfowl, and beautiful aquatic plants on the sides. Anglers can head to the fishing piers and get lucky with some Hamlin Lake walleye, bass, northern pike, perch, bluegill, and salmon in Fall.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

A park that spans a massive 52,000 acres, Tahquamenon Falls is, for the part most, undeveloped. During the spring and summer, camping, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, nature study, and photography are popular activities.

For those seeking the quiet and solitude of the Upper Peninsula wilderness, the main attractions are the waterfalls of the Tahquamenon River, the largest of which drops 50ft and spans 200 feet across.

The amber color of the water is a consequence of leaching tannin from Cedar, Spruce, and Hemlock from the swamps. Common wildlife includes bald eagles, otters, foxes, beavers, many species of birds, and if you’re lucky, a pair of moose that wander the park.


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Carved by the power of Lake Superior, the park's sandstone cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, deep forest, and shorelines call their visitors. The park got its name from streaks of mineral stain that embellish the face of the weather-sculpted sandstone.

Some sites to visit are Miners Castle, Pictured Rocks Cliff, Miners Beach, Miners and Munising waterfalls, Au Sable Light Station, and the many coast guard stations in the park that tell history from 1874 to 1975. In winters, the park is great for snowmobiling, ice climbing, and viewing ice curtains.


Warren Dunes State Park

Warren Dunes State Park

The Warren Dunes State Park has an area of 1952 acres along the beautiful shoreline of Lake Michigan. The park is best known for its beaches and sand dunes that offer a good opportunity for hang gliding. The beaches are great for sunbathing and beach sports so you might consider bringing your volleyball or football. If you get tired of the beach and need some peace, head to the forest behind the beach with your bike to take on some trails. 


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Climb the dunes, swim at one of the many beaches, hike through the Maple/Beech forest filled with red and yellow hues in autumn, or learn about the rich history and culture of the area at its many museums. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a place for all age groups. This Park has so much to offer its visitors and one can never go wrong visiting the place.

Oh and if you end up liking the place so much, you can book a room at its lodges or vacation homes. The park also has fine dining, waterfall dining, bars, vineyards, and ice-cream parlors! You can head to the Sleeping Bear Dunes through Highway M-72, Empire, Michigan. 


Hartwick Pines State Park

Hartwick Pines State Park

Get to know the story behind Michigan’s previously important pine industry at Hartwick Pines State Park. The park got its name from the 49-acre forest of Old Growth Pines. If you’re looking for paddling, mountain biking, snowshoeing, hiking, picnicking, birding, and metal detecting then this place offers it all with a bit of history.

Repeat visitors recommend taking the trails leading to the Monarch tree and the Old Chapel, especially during fall. You can get to Hartwick Pines through Ranger Road, Grayling. 


Maybury State Park

Maybury State Park

The Maybury State Park has a gently rolling and wooded terrain that is best explored by bicycle and horseback, though it is also accessible by foot and cross-country skis. For those thrill-seekers who are ready to take up a challenge, the park will test your endurance and skill on its mountain bike trails.

However, if you’re more easy-going then head to the Mabury Farm for some sheep shearing, honey extraction, grain harvesting demonstrations as well as horseback and pony rides. You can get to Maybury State Park through Beck Road, Northville.


The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

With an area of 60,000 acres, this park is another one-stop for all your needs and wants. The park offers lodgings, a huge range of activities, and some breathtaking scenery. The Lake of Clouds is like a blue gem embraced by emerald green trees with scarlet cranberry bogs, and in fall the river is surrounded with hues of orange, yellow, and red.

Furthermore, you can go and explore copper mines and learn how the place contributed to the copper mining industry which used to be the lifeblood of Upper Michigan. There’s so much more waiting for you at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and all you have to do is get onto Headquarters Road in Ontonagon to reach there.

Check each one of these amazing locations off of your adventure list, with our National Parks Adventure Book , Adventure Notes, or build your own adventure bundle with our Adventure Bundle Builder today. Your story starts now!
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Michigan State Parks Adventure Planning Journal