By Brian Jewell
Courtesy Michigan Economic Development Corp.
In addition to charming waterfront towns, Michigan’s Great Lakes area also has a number of protected areas administered by the National Park Service. Visiting one of these spots adds a great natural and educational element to a tour of the region.
• Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore — Near Traverse City, this lakeshore has some of North America’s most impressive dunes. Travelers can explore the sandy bluffs that climb up to 450 feet above Lake Michigan or visit an island lighthouse, coastal villages and historic farmsteads.
• Island Royale National Park — Above the Upper Peninsula near the Canadian border in Lake Superior, Island Royale National Park is a little-known and well-preserved natural haven. Groups that make the trek to this site are rewarded with sightings of moose and wolves, as well as abundant hiking, boating, canoeing and diving opportunities.
• Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore — This protected land stretches across 40 miles of the Upper Peninsula’s Lake Superior shoreline. The park gets its name from the sandstone cliffs that overlook the lakefront, but visitors will also find beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, lakes and forests, as well as a lighthouse and lifesaving station to tour.