National Lakeshores

This month in Michigan history: National Lakeshores

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Did you know Michigan has seven total designated national parks, areas, trails, or lakeshores? In the month of October alone, two of the seven were established and dedicated within the category of National Lakeshore: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Holding two out of only four spots designated as National Lakeshores across the country, here’s a little history and reasons why you should visit:

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Congress established the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on October 15, 1966 as America’s first National Lakeshore in order to preserve a significant amount of the diminishing shoreline, the bill signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Pictured Rocks is located along Lake Superior’s shoreline in the Upper Peninsula’s City of Munising. Spanning over 40 miles, with hundreds of miles of trails around the park, pristine beaches, and towering multicolored cliffs, there is plenty to see and explore no matter the time of year.

If you’re looking to plan a trip to the first National Lakeshore, you’ll want to budget for at least three day’s time and be a fairly well-versed camper to ensure you’re experiencing the lakeshore as it’s meant to be experienced, among nature. There are 13 backcountry campsites to setup at and go explore the many sandstone formations across the lakeshore. Just be ready to do some major walking and stop at a Visitor’s Center to get the most up-to-date information on what’s open and the must-sees.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

The Sleeping Bear Dunes’ road to dedication was a lot lengthier than its Michigan counterpart, but nonetheless was officially dedicated as a National Lakeshore on October 22, 1977. Located in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula along Lake Michigan’s shoreline in between Empire and Glen Arbor, the Sleeping Bear Dunes spans 65 miles, 400 feet above The Great Lake. Sleeping Bear was named after The Legend of Sleeping Bear, a popular tale which explains the creation of the two islands (North and South Manitou Islands) not distant from the shoreline.

When planning your trip, you should expect to climb many sandy dunes around the park and see Lake Michigan from all different vantage points. Just be mindful that looks may be deceiving before embarking on a climb up or down the dunes. Challenge yourself to a trek across the Dunes Trail leading you to a rewarding view of Lake Michigan.

Whether you’re looking for a backcountry experience or a fun-filled day trip with the family on vacation, these two National Lakeshores will create memories for a lifetime. Take advantage of the smaller crowds, cross two National Parks off your list, and experience these sites during their anniversary month.