With summer’s arrival, Michiganders and tourists alike will soon be out and about to take in the splendor of our state. There are countless festivals and events happening within the major cities and regions of the state, but it is the hidden gems of natural beauty that I wish to share with you in the hopes that it might shape some special memories and spiritual moments. Here are four outdoorsy activities that are a little off the beaten path for those seeking adventure:
- Explore Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes
There are two ways to explore the hundreds of shipwrecks throughout the great lakes: the first is to snorkel and dive amongst them, exploring the well-preserved remains up close and personally within the freshwater depths. The second (and far more easy) option is to charter yourselves a glass-bottom shipwreck cruise with one of the dozens of organizations along the Great lakes. One example, The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center offers fully narrated tours of notable wrecks within its 4300 square mile preserve.
- Explore the Upper Peninsula’s Hidden Waterfalls
There are dozens of waterfalls along the UP, with plenty of hiking trails to traverse in order to find them. Residents and tourists alike have probably heard of or taken in the beauty of the Tahquamenon Falls State Park and the titular river that sustains the life of the surrounding woodlands. There are also a number of waterfalls near Munising, just west of Pictured Rocks; or consider the Hungarian Falls in the Keweenaw Peninsula. And those are only the beginning– check out this map of all the waterfalls around Lake Superior: https://www.waterfallsofthekeweenaw.com/map/
- Travel to Turnip Rock or Any of the Islands in The Great Lakes
One of the most amazing rock formations you’ll find in the state (and the country) is at the tip of Port Austin – colloquially known as Michigan’s Thumb! You can’t get there by land; you have to take a kayak or a boat, and it’s a 7-mile round trip. But it’s more than worth it to explore Turnip Rock and the surrounding sea caves.
Most people have heard of Mackinac Island, but it is only one of the many islands found off the shores of the great lakes. At North & South Manitou off the coast of Leland, discover the legend of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, hike, go camping and/or even explore ghost towns! If you’re an ORV or ATV aficionado, Drummond Island might even be the venture for you.
- Headlands International Dark Sky Park
Northern Michigan is full of the perfect places for stargazers, and even some where one might catch a peek at the northern lights, but only a handful of these parks are recognized as “dark sky” parks. Headlands International Park is open to visitors 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round. The park offers plenty of viewing areas and a variety of programs & events throughout the year, even during the wintertime. After a day of exploration in the sun, why not cuddle up and witness the cosmic beauty that surrounds us all eternally.