10 Frozen Michigan Lighthouses to See in the Winter
Visit Michigan Lighthouses in the Winter
Have you ever seen a Michigan frozen lighthouse? These stunning lighthouses, standing tall against the frozen Great Lakes spray, create picturesque beauty in the winter.
Michigan’s coasts are sprinkled liberally with more lighthouses than any other state in the U.S. and many of those lighthouses are now considered historic treasures. For ages, these beacons of safety have warned sailors of hazards and guided them through perilous waters to shelter.
Michigan’s cozy location, nestled between the Great Lakes, has fostered a strong sense of maritime culture and history.
If you need a winter trip idea, wait until the temperatures drop and mother natures had her way with the Michigan coastline for some pure Michigan frozen beauty.
See Frozen Michigan Lighthouses
Ever since lighthouses were first built over 2,000 years ago, they have aided seafarers and fascinated landlubbers alike.
Whether you are an adventurous sailor, a brave member of the U.S. Coast Guard, or just a curious landman, these fascinating Michigan lighthouses will give you something to marvel at, especially during the winter months.
When the seasons change and Michigan’s weather turns cold, bringing ice and snow across the frozen lakes, a thin layer of ice begins to build until these frozen lighthouses turn into something out of a fairy tale.
As the air temperature chills, these lighthouses stand tall and proud against the freezing waves of ice that crash along the shore – and the sight is pure Michigan magic.
Read on to discover these 10 Must-See Frozen Lighthouses and start to plan your winter lighthouse trip now.
Lake Michigan Lighthouses in the Winter
Lake Michigan frozen lighthouses are something special. St. Joseph is home to a unique pair of lighthouses on the North Pier, which mark the mouth of the St. Joseph river.
The north pierhead inner light is the fog signal building, containing the fog signal to alert ships along Lake Michigan. St. Joseph north piers outer light is a 35-foot tower. Built in 1907, the lighthouse duo consists of an inner and outer light connected by an elevated catwalk.
The iconic St. Joseph North Pier is the subject of many stunning images along the Lake Michigan shore.
In the winter the waves crash against the structure, cresting and falling over the lights and the pier, leaving enough water behind to freeze over.
When this happens, the outer light and the walkway are coated in a thick sheet of ice and snow. A walk down the pier to see these St. Joseph lighthouses up close will not disappoint.
You can discover more things to do in St. Joseph in our St. Joseph Travel Guide.
The lighthouse at South Haven, Michigan has attracted visitors for over 100 years since it was first built in 1903. South Haven’s south pier lighthouse stands as a symbol of Michigan’s maritime culture with its classic design and bright red paint.
The elevated pier that stretches out over the water allows for access to the lighthouse, even when several feet of snow and ice are piled up on the water below. Additionally, it makes this lighthouse a great choice to visit during the snowy season if you’re looking to see the frozen lake.
After a winter storm or during polar vortex, the south pierhead lighthouse resembles an ice sculpture, making for some beautiful pictures for brave photographers. These frozen Michigan lighthouses are always stunning.
Use our Guide to the Best Places to Stay in South Haven to help you plan your trip.
The Grand Haven lighthouse pair – both inner and outer- is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the Midwest for a good reason.
Built in 1839 and painted bright red, they have provided a beautiful contrast against the pure white snow and ice surrounding it during the winter.
From up-close and personal walks on the pier to sightseeing from sand dunes at Grand Haven State Park, it is practically impossible to get a bad view of these lighthouses.
During the winter, the outer lighthouse is covered with ice formations. It’s a picturesque sight against the Lake Michigan’s wild, wintery surf.
There’s a lot to do in Grand Haven, all year-round. Discover more in our Ultimate Guide to Grand Haven.
Big Sable Point Lighthouse
In Ludington, the Big Sable Point lighthouse has stood on the coast since its construction in 1867. The tower stands out with its black and white striped paint job and impressive height, reaching over 100 feet tall.
During winter the gray sky creates an eerie atmosphere and the snow mixes with the sand on the dunes all around the lighthouse adding to the mysterious feeling.
The South Breakwater Light in Muskegon is among the most interesting lighthouse designs. Blocky and geometric, the light sits about one-half mile from the shore.
Built in 1931 with functionality in mind, this house includes little to no comforts for people since the lighthouse was never intended to be manned or occupied.
This emphasis on function over comfort and the lonesome nature of being set so far into Lake Michigan makes the lighthouse seem almost ghostly, especially when snow and ice creep up towards the top of the tower, leaving only a bit of red visible at the very top.
Point Betsie Lighthouse
In Frankfort, the Point Betsie Lighthouse delivers an unrivaled charm and may well be the prettiest lighthouse on Lake Michigan.
The 1858 lighthouse is situated on the shore and the tower itself is connected to a cozy white house, a former residence for the lighthouse keeper. The quaint keeper’s quarters are available to the public for rent, offering a stay in Frankfort like no other.
The heavy snowfall almost seems to engulf the whole house and ice coats all the plants on the landscape; you feel like you’re trekking an ice cave as you approach the structure. The paint on the house and light blends into the snow, but the red roof always stands out against the whitewashed coast.
Be sure and plan some extra time to explore charming Frankfort’s cute downtown shopping area.
Lake Huron Lighthouses in the Winter
Fort Gratiot Lighthouse
Michigan’s oldest lighthouse is over 200 years old and is found in Port Huron. The Fort Gratiot lighthouse was originally constructed in 1814 to guard the junction where the St. Clair River meets Lake Huron, and to guide sailors through the high-traffic area.
It is one of the few lighthouses open to the public to climb, and the trek to the top on a winter day would offer top-notch views of the Blue Water Bridge – as well as the St. Clair River and Lake Huron as ice begins to form over them.
Take a short drive up the Lake Huron coastline to cute Lexington, one of the top Lake Huron beach towns. It’s fun even in the winter!
New Presque Isle Lighthouse
The New Presque Isle Lighthouse is Michigan’s tallest lighthouse on the Great Lakes that is accessible to the public.
The marvel is over 100 feet tall. Built in 1870 , it sits on a complex (about 30 minutes north of Alpena) which also includes two keeper’s residences as well as picnic areas, nature trails, and a playground.
In the wintertime, the white lighthouse is surrounded by matching snow. This creates a picturesque winter wonderland.
Lake Superior Lighthouses in the Winter
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, with three national forests, is rich with lighthouses.
Whitefish Point Lighthouse
In Paradise, Michigan, the Whitefish Point Light was first lit in 1849, making it one of the first lighthouses on Lake Superior. It guards the entrance to Whitefish Bay along a stretch of Lake Superior known for being a ship graveyard.
With Lake Superior’s challenging storms, raging waters, and icy winters, this light has been a beacon for many sailors brave enough to face Superior. Even in Winter, this skeletal steel structure looks as strong as ever, standing tall and bright to guide and welcome sailors out on fearsome Lake Superior.
Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse
On the central southern coast of Lake Superior lies Munising where a quaint wooden lighthouse sits surrounded by the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Built in 1868, it lasted about forty years before being decommissioned due to difficulties maintaining the light and its lack of visibility from Lake Superior. Still, it stands as a ghostly structure in the snow, capturing the attention of visitors who admire its weathered look.
Frozen Michigan Lighthouses: Unfrozen in the Summer
As beautiful as these lighthouses are to see in the winter, they are equally pretty in the spring, summer and summer fall months. Why not add a few of them to your Michigan travel bucket list and start planning your Michigan getaway now?
About the Author
Bella DiMascio is a content writing intern for mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school. She is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.
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