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Michigan's Natural Attractions

Updated on June 12, 2012

Michigan is the place that I call home.The state is a perfect mix of sun, sand, woods and water full of beautiful and natural attractions. Over 10 million people live within the borders of Michigan. There are only a handful of states that truly experience the full glory of all four full seasons and Michigan is one of them. Each season is filled with possibilities and endless wonders.

Certainly, this is an incomplete list of Michigan natural attractions, but they are some of my favorites and they highlight what I love about Michigan. The beauty of this state is seen in these pictures from the southern state line all the way up to our most northern border.

Michigan became the 26th state of the union in 1837, two years after the dispute with Ohio, known as the Toledo War.

More than half of Michigan land is covered in trees and Michigan is second only to Alaska in the amount of shoreline. The air is fresh and the water clean. The only state which touches four out of the five Great Lakes, Michigan boasts the longest freshwater shoreline in the world.

Even the meaning of the word Michigan has to do with water. We derive our name from the Ojibwa word Michigama which means great or large lake. The lakes are one of Michigan's greatest natural attractions.

Standing anywhere in the state, a person is only 85 miles away from one of the Great Lakes. The lakes have not only played a major role in our state’s history but the country's as well.

Pure Michigan

Pure Michigan is an ad campaign launched to promote tourism in Michigan. A series of heart warming and colorful ads which highlight the special qualities of Michigan, featuring the voice of Michigan native, Tim Allen, are broadcast on a national level.

Pure Michigan

Lake Michigan near Charlevoix
Lake Michigan near Charlevoix
Lake Superior Courtesy of Hanifworld
Lake Superior Courtesy of Hanifworld

The Great Lakes

The beaches of Michigan are a favorite vacation destination of people from all over the world. Each one of the lakes is unique and have wonders too numerous to mention here. Personally, I have a great fondness for Lake Michigan and believe it to be one of the most beautiful lakes there is.

When the lake is calm, swimming is easy and beaches are full of sun lovers. It is when the waves are rolling that swimming is exhilarating. The water is always refreshing, so clean and cool. The beaches and the waves are natural attractions that draw millions of visitors every summer.

Many of us truly believe that sand can swim in the waters of the Great Lakes. Visitors are often surprised to find while changing out of their swimming suits, that sand has taken an intimate liking to them.

Sunset over the waters of Lake Superior
Sunset over the waters of Lake Superior
Sunset over Lake Michigan,         by Kevin Dooley
Sunset over Lake Michigan, by Kevin Dooley

Sunsets of Lake Michigan

Sunsets on Lake Michigan are spectacular. Every night is a postcard view. Only a true artist could produce such beauty.

The clouds bounce the light across the sky, their patterns and colors illuminated and mimicked from the water below. Using every color in the rainbow, orange slowly spreads to various shades of red and the blues melt into deep rich purple.

As the sun dips into the water, streaks of light play across the waves. Sitting on the beach as the colors fade away, one is mesmerized by the stunning display just witnessed.

The sunsets on the western waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior rival the sunrises on the eastern waters of Lake Huron. The beauty of the sun merging into the water makes this a true natural attraction.

Michigan Inland Lakes
Michigan Inland Lakes
by Larry Clinard
by Larry Clinard

Inland Lakes

Michigan boasts over 11,000 inland lakes. If you include ponds and other small year around waters, the total jumps to over 64,000. Ten of those lakes are over 10,000 acres. No wonder that Michigan also has the highest number of boat registrations in the whole country.

Houghton Lake is the state's largest lake at 20,046 acres. The deepest lake is Torch Lake at 300 feet deep and almost 20 miles long. The many inland lakes on Michigan are definitely  natural attractions, drawing fishermen and boaters from all over the country.

Some lakes are quiet and tranquil while others abound with life. The lakes support activities year around with boating and fishing all summer and ice fishing and snowmobiling in the winter.

Michigan Hardwood Forest
Michigan Hardwood Forest
Porcupine Mountains,  by CreatewithKim
Porcupine Mountains, by CreatewithKim
Trail near the Pictured Rocks
Trail near the Pictured Rocks

The Woods

As stated above, more than 53% of Michigan is covered byforests, mostly in the northern countries and in the Upper Peninsula. The land in the south is mostly covered in farmland. But no matter where you stand in Michigan, you can be in the woods within a half hour. Michigan is proud of its reputation as a forest friendly state and continues to manage the harvesting of its trees while monitoring new growth.

Forestry is an important part of Michigan’s economy. Experts claim that the industry is worth 9 Billion dollars. The timberland acreage, where timber harvesting is allowed, is the fifth largest in the United States. If one were to pile up all the wood in Michigan forests into stacks of 8 x 4s, they would cover 250,000 miles. That’s 10 times around the earth.

With many of Michigan’s forests included in state and national parks, the woods are open for all to enjoy and experience. Parks are located all over the state and are a source of pride for the residents of Michigan and one of our treasured natural attractions.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Lake Superior
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Lake Superior
Miner Castle Lake Superior
Miner Castle Lake Superior
Turnip Rock and the Thumbnail,  Lake Huron
Turnip Rock and the Thumbnail, Lake Huron

Rock Formations

On Michigan's northern shores, the rock formations rival the Badlands. Lake Superior is home to the Pictured Rocks, a very popular tourist attraction. Boat rides are the best way to view these natural attractions and they are available to ferry visitors to the coves and cliffs that the ancient glaciers helped design.

Scenery includes various rock formations like natural archways, waterfalls, and sand dunes. The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore covers 42 miles of coastline. The park itself is large with over 73,000 acres.

Turnip Rock is located at the tip of the thumb along Lake Huron shores. The Turnip is the large upside down rock and the thumbnail is the small sheet of rock protruding out of the rock from the shoreline. In the picture, you can see a person standing on it.

Although it is hard to tell from this angle, this protrusion sort of looks like a long fingernail and that is how it received the name. Oddly, this thumbnail is the northern most point of Michigan's thumb.

Au Sable River
Au Sable River
Ocqueoc River
Ocqueoc River


Michigan has 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, one-third of those are designated trout streams and all are natural attractions. The longest river is the Grand River 260 miles, and it flows directly through the city of Grand Rapids winding its way through the state into Lake Michigan.

The Au Sable River runs about 129 miles in the lower peninsula of Michigan and is a favorite fishing and kayaking river. It is designated a blue ribbon trout stream by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The waters at Ocqueoc Falls in Presque Isle County draw crowds to slide over the rocks or just to sit in the pocket holes formed into the bedrock of the river.

Tahquamenon Falls
Tahquamenon Falls
Canyon Falls
Canyon Falls

Michigan Waterfalls

The Tahquamenon Falls are two different waterfalls on the Tahquamenon River called the upper and the lower. The upper falls are larger at 200 feet across, falling 48 feet. In the summer they can drop up to 50,000 gallons of water per second. The lower falls are a series of five smaller falls about four miles down river.

Canyon Falls have been dubbed the Grand Canyon of Michigan. They are located in a roadside park in the Upper Peninsula on the Sturgeon River.

Michigan has nearly 200 waterfalls officially listed. Many of them are popular tourist destinations. People from all over the world come to see the natural attractions of Michigan's waterfalls.

Hiawatha National Forest
Hiawatha National Forest
Jordan River Valley
Jordan River Valley
South Haven
South Haven


Michigan really shows off in the fall. The colors are so vibrant on a clear sunny day that many people skip work just to take color tours of the countryside.

The woods come alive with color. The air smells so fresh and clean with a briskness that only hints at what lies in store.

Driving down country lanes covered in fallen leaves, rustles the leaves into a myriad of swirling cyclones, airborne and weightless until finally falling back to the quiet lane as you drive away.

The Jordan Valley may look like a field of flowers but that picture is solid trees. Michigan has over 19 million acres of forest land all on display in living color every autumn.

Starting in the far corners of the Upper Peninsula, each week, color blankets another section of the state until at last, the leaves fall.

From the beaches to the woods, trails and back roads highlight the vivid colors of a Michigan fall and are why so many visitors come to see the colors of Michigan's natural attractions.

Pure Michigan

I hope you enjoyed your brief visit to the Natural Attractions of Michigan.


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    • Amanda108 profile image


      5 years ago from Michigan, United States

      Thank you for highlighting why I love this great state! Beautiful hub!

    • Joni Douglas profile imageAUTHOR

      Joni Douglas 

      7 years ago

      Thank you Sweetsusieg. I do love this state. When I lived out west, it was the trees and the green that I missed the most. Must be why Michigan has such fresh air.

      Can't you just see it? Me and Tim Allen? lol

    • Sweetsusieg profile image


      7 years ago from Michigan

      Joni, I have loved Michigan for years!! I lived in Missouri and Florida but had to come 'home', can't keep me away from here for long. When I was gone I missed all the trees. I've been back for 21 years now and have no plans on leaving anytime soon! You've highlighted some of the great spots! I love the pictures too. Maybe the Governor should contact you for the campaign of 'Pure Michigan', you sure did a great job here!

    • Joni Douglas profile imageAUTHOR

      Joni Douglas 

      8 years ago

      Thank you Tina. Living up there, you probably see that valley looking so pretty every year. The area up there is beautiful all year around, the beaches, the dunes and the woods. Glad you stopped by and I thank you for your comments.

    • TinaMarieTad profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Joni~~ You sure did our beautiful state justice in this article! I love Michigan and cannot say enough about it's beauty. I live in between Charlevoix and The Jordan River Valley...loved the pictures, it looks like home to me!

    • Joni Douglas profile imageAUTHOR

      Joni Douglas 

      8 years ago

      Thank you PhoenixV. What can I say? Michigan is a beautiful state and I was lucky enough to find such spectacular photos.

    • PhoenixV profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      wow ! some of the best photos I have seen on hubpages

    • Joni Douglas profile imageAUTHOR

      Joni Douglas 

      8 years ago

      It certainly is John. Thanks for your comment and for visiting.

    • John B Badd profile image

      John B Badd 

      8 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      What a beautiful state.

    • Joni Douglas profile imageAUTHOR

      Joni Douglas 

      8 years ago

      Welcome dahoglund. The country side is pretty up there. When I was little, we did a trip all around Lake Michigan and the views are spectacular all the way around. Though I must admit, I enjoy the lake from the Michigan side much more. Thank you for stopping by and for your comments.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      We visit the upper peninsula sometimes. I've seen Lake Michigan mostly from the Wisconsin shorer but we did follow the lake up to wher it meets with Lake Superior once.

    • Joni Douglas profile imageAUTHOR

      Joni Douglas 

      8 years ago

      singlemom, you're welcome and thank you for stopping by and leaving such nice comments. Breathtaking is the exact same word that came to my mind regarding the pictures.

    • Joni Douglas profile imageAUTHOR

      Joni Douglas 

      8 years ago

      carolina muscle, Thank you. I appreciate the kudos.

    • Joni Douglas profile imageAUTHOR

      Joni Douglas 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for the compliment, Apostle Jack. I enjoyed putting this together.

    • Joni Douglas profile imageAUTHOR

      Joni Douglas 

      8 years ago

      Kaie, thank you for visiting. I'm glad that you liked it.

    • singlmomat52 profile image


      8 years ago

      So Gorgeous!!! The pics are breath taking!!

      Thank you for sharing!!

      Wonderful Hub!!

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Wow.... nicely done!!

    • Apostle Jack profile image

      Apostle Jack 

      8 years ago from Atlanta Ga

      I enjoyed it very much.Truly wonderful pictures.

    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 

      8 years ago

      Absolutely beautiful............. Michigan is a most appreciated and often visited neighbor; I love it there!



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