National parks offer an unparalleled experience for watching wildlife and appreciating the interconnected network of life in and around parks.
“A normal lake is knowable. A Great Lake can hold all the mysteries of an ocean, and then some.” — Dan Egan
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, on the largest and deepest Great Lake, includes cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, and forest for outdoor adventure.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore encompasses over 40 miles of Lake Superior shoreline. Situated on the largest, deepest, coldest and most pristine of the Great Lakes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore derives its name from the many sandstone cliffs that dot the shoreline. In addition to the sandstone cliffs, the park includes beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, lakes and forest.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
As old as continental ice sheets and as young as the 1970 Establishment Act that set aside the lakeshore for preservation and public use, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers countless opportunities for discovery. The naturally elevated dunes along Lake Michigan offer visitors spectacular views, all-season hiking trails, pristine rivers for paddling, and a wonderful array of wildlife to explore.
The most prominent features are the dunes above Lake Michigan, perched atop the already towering headlands. The dune overlooks at the Sleeping Bear, Empire, and Pyramid Point bluffs are about 400 feet above Lake Michigan, and with 65 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and numerous inland lakes and streams, the park is wonderfully water oriented.
Isle Royale National Park
Surrounded by Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park encompasses 850 square miles of natural wilderness, spacious lands, and aquatic life.
A cool climate, crystal-clear waters, and the wild North Woods forest characterize Isle Royale National Park. The park encompasses a total area of 850 square miles including submerged lands which extend over four miles out into Lake Superior, and 99% of the land mass is federally designated wilderness. The archipelago is composed of numerous parallel ridges, the result of ancient lava flows which were tilted and glaciated.
Isle Royale has 165 miles of scenic hiking trails and 36 campgrounds for backpackers, paddlers, and recreational boaters. There is excellent fishing, historic lighthouses, and shipwrecks, ancient copper mining sites, and plenty of spots to observe wildlife. Isle Royale is accessible only by boat or float plane.
While enjoying a Venturing Crew backpacking trip two of the boys decided to sit quietly on the rocks at Sisskiwit Bay on Isle Royale. Even the roudiest of boys can find a little quiet for introspection while on the Island. It is good to see them deprived of their handheld devices for more than a day.
My advice: take some time, relax and plan a 2 week vacation to spend in the picturesque spots I described above. You won’t regret it! And try to remember:
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”