How Many of Michigan’s Seven National Treasures Have You Seen?

There’s nothing quite like disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and spending a leisurely day taking in Michigan’s rich culture, history and beauty. And there are a lot of destinations around the state to get your fix! Michigan doesn’t just have a national park and two national lakeshores, it also has other national attractions, like a scenic trail, historic park, heritage area and battlefield park. Check out the list below and see how many you’ve been to—then start planning your next trip!

  1. Isle Royale National Park – Isle Royale promises a relaxing, enjoyable time for visitors—you can enjoy 165 miles of trails, see shipwrecks while scuba diving or nab the catch of the day on a fishing excursion. And don’t forget to visit the Wendigo Mining Company or the Rock Harbor Lighthouse while you’re there. To get to Isle Royale, you’ll either take a 35-minute seaplane ride or take the ferry over. It has 36 campgrounds, but be advised that you must get a permit to stay overnight and larger groups have to make a reservation. The Isle Royale National Park is open yearly from April 16 through October 31, so hurry if you want to make it this year!
  2. Keweenaw National Historic Park – Think learning about copper mining history is boring? Think again. A trip to Keweenaw National Historic Park is an entertaining voyage back in time when copper was king. You can even tour the Adventure Mine, a mine that operated from 1850 to 1920.
  3. Motor Cities National Heritage Area – This heritage area, which was created to honor the history of the automobile, spans over 10,000 square miles and 16 counties in southeast and central Michigan. There are a variety of venues to explore, including the Brick Walker Tavern in Brooklyn, the Flint Cultural Center, the Ford Rouge Factory Tour at The Henry Ford in Dearborn and the Cranbrook Gardens in Bloomfield Hills.
  4. North Country National Scenic Trail – This national scenic trail spans across seven different states, including Michigan, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin, and contains over 4,600 miles of trail. It winds through state game areas, the Manistee National Forest and Lake Superior’s shoreline. If you plan on doing long-distance hiking, make sure you create a plan.
  5. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Located in the U.P., Pictured Rocks extends 40 miles along the shoreline of Lake Superior and contains more than 90 miles of hiking trails. Peak visit months are from mid-June to mid-August, but it’s still worth a visit in the fall. Visitors can join in on ranger-guided tours from mid-June until September and can camp overnight at the drive-in camping site on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  6. River Raisin National Battlefield Park – Located in Monroe (approximately 45 miles outside of Detroit), this park honors the history of the War of 1812, a battle fought along the River Raisin. Visitors can take part in battle reenactments, enjoy miles of hiking and biking trails or get a history lesson on the Route 1812 Michigan Driving Tour, which runs through Michigan, Ohio and Ontario.
  7. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – The Sleeping Bear Dunes is perfect for the traveler looking for fun in the outdoors. With 450-foot high bluffs and miles of beaches and greenery, there are so many activities for visitors to enjoy. Pack a water bottle and tackle the 150-foot Dune Climb. It takes some time, but the views from the top are worth it!

If you’re planning a trip to one of Michigan’s national attractions soon, here are a few other tips to consider:

  • Keep timing in mind. Michigan’s national parks see a lot of visitors every year (7 million, to be exact). If you or your family wants to avoid larger crowds, the best time to visit is right at the beginning or just before the end of the school year. Many travelers find that September is the optimal time for a trip to a national park or attraction.
  • Have a plan. The National Park Service is an excellent resource for finding out what each of Michigan’s national attractions has to offer. The “Plan Your Visit” sections provide information on family-friendly activities, lodging options and accessibility and safety tips to help you make the best of your trip.
  • Pack the essentials. You may be tempted to pack a bit more to be prepared for unexpected situations, but the best thing you can do is pack light. Consult the weather report of the area you will be visiting before your trip. Don’t forget bottled water, a map, comfortable shoes and first-aid kit. If you are planning an overnight camping trip, pack the proper camping and sleeping gear.

Resource Development Specialist Maia Turek with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources also encourages Michiganders to enjoy the 103 state parks and 236 state forest campgrounds here – all of which offer unique experiences in addition to these National Park sites.

Photo Credit: Ray Dumas

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  1. I would add Mackinac Island to the list. I have been to the Henry Ford, back when it was called Greenfield Village. Made it to all but Isle Royal and Pictured Rocks. All one has to do is drive the coast line from Indiana along Lake Michigan and then along Lake Huron to Ohio to see tons of marvelous sights. If you travel the coast line of the UP you will be astounded just by what Mother Nature provides for your viewing pleasure!

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