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10 Amazing Michigan Natural Wonders Worth Seeing

Michigan natural wonders - pictured rocks
Painted Sandstone Cliffs at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Discover Michigan’s Natural Wonders: Where to See Natural Phenomena in Michigan

Michigan is well-known for its natural beauty. Whether it’s the many points of access to the Great Lakes, State Parks, or even just its many picturesque sunsets, it’s no wonder visitors adore the state’s many natural wonders.

But for the seasoned Michigan vacationer, seeing the same old beach-side views and overlooks may start to get boring. That’s why we’ve compiled this top ten list of natural wonders you should visit on your next trip to Michigan.

eben ice daves
Eben Ice Caves

Natural Wonders in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Eben Ice Caves
Frey Rd, Deerton, MI 49822

Considered by many to be one of Michigan’s hidden gems, the Eben Ice Caves are found in Rock River Canyon Wilderness Area, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Because the caves are privately funded, admission is free. However, there is a drop box for donations, where you can (and should!) leave a small tip to keep the ice cave safe and available for public use. Ice beautifully drips over the edge of a cliff, surrounded by years of snow melt that all reflects colors of yellow and green.

Keep in mind that floors may be a bit slippery, and it will obviously be cold. Visitors start coming in around December, when things start to solidly freeze up. Many travelers recommend investing in a pair of ice cleats to traverse the icy area. They’re open 24/7, but keep in mind weather conditions. Icicles are fun until they start melting on your head.

tahquamenon falls - michigan natural wonders

Tahquamenon Falls
41382 West M-123, Paradise MI, 49768

Tahquamenon Falls are a highlight of the many natural wonders found around Michigan. Tahquamenon Falls are actually made up of two sets of falls, one upper and one lower. Together, they are the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi.

They sport a brown-ish color as a product of leftover substances from surrounding cedar, spruce, and hemlock trees. 50,000 acres of northern Michigan beauty and hiking trails only add to the showcase that is this monument.

And, because the park housing the landmark is open all year around, you have several opportunities to visit it with a guaranteed different view each time. Like other landmarks listed, a Recreation Pass or small fee is required to enter the park.

Menominee Crack

No one knew for the longest time what caused a giant crack to form in the ground of a forest near Menominee, Michigan. It’s now known to be a geological pop-up structure, which can be thought of as a small earthquake—the first of its kind in Michigan.

This one-of-a-kind event put the crack on the map of interesting natural wonders located in the state. It’s 361 feet long and close to 2 meters deep in some areas. Unfortunately, this crack is located on private property, and is therefore not open to visitors.

grand island natural wonders
Grand Island Lighthouse

Grand Island
Grand Island Ferry Service
N8016 Grand Island Landing Rd., Munising MI, 49862

Off the shores of mainland Munising, Michigan, Grand Island Recreational Area sits within Lake Superior.

Ferry services take vacationers to and from this little piece of land, where hiking, biking, and swimming are just a few of the many activities offered. Part of the Hiawatha National Forest, Grand Island is well known for its breathtaking views, shimmering beaches, and several cultural sites showcasing a history of fur trading and settling.

Standard amenity fees for a one-day use of the island start at $5/visitor, with prices fluctuating depending on whether visitors choose to camp there. Fees for ferry rides also fluctuate depending on the season and age of visitor, though they do include the forest fee mentioned above. Tickets for visitors aged 13 and older start at $23/person.

agate falls-michigan-natural-wonders
Agate Falls in MIchigan’s Upper Peninsula

Agate Falls
M-28, N 46° 28.861, W 089° 05.390, Trout Creek MI, 49947-9722

Found along the middle branch of the Ontonagon River, Agate Falls are considered to be one of Michigan’s most beautiful waterfalls. A half-mile trail leads to its observation platform, where visitors can safely take in the falls and their roaring majesty. Do be sure to stay smart and safe—the falls drop for nearly 40 feet. Trail access is open year-round, but the site is typically only open from mid-May through mid-October.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Munising Falls Visitor Center
1505 Sand Point Road, Munising MI, 49862

Just a stone’s-throw away from Grand Island are the Pictured Rocks, established as the first designated national lakeshore in the United States. This geological landmark stretches for 15 miles along Lake Superior’s shore, it’s stunning colors a product of ground water trickling down the rocks’ edge. Some of the sandstone was used in previously mentioned landmarks in Grand Island. Each rock layer represents different intervals in geological time, creating an effect sure to delight any visitors.

Since the lakeshore is open all year around, it’s easy to visit this sight whenever is best available for you. The most popular times of year to visit is later spring to mid-autumn, where the weather is most favorable. Visitors 16 years or older must have a Park Entrance Pass, which range anywhere from $10-$20 for a standard visit.

arch rock on mackinac island michigan

Arch Rock
6131 Arch Rock Rd., Mackinac Island MI, 49757

More than fifty feet wide, this geological masterpiece is what attracts the majority of visitors to Mackinac Island. It took thousands of years filled with strange weather conditions and water erosion for its strange shape to form.

The limestone arch stands on the Lake Huron shoreline and has fascinated humans for generations. It’s viewable from many angles, so whether you want to climb high or stay down below is entirely up to you. Best of all, the arch is completely free to visit—simply park your car and take a hike along the designated path.

Ultimate Guide to Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Natural Wonders in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula

Silver Lake Sand Dunes
6979 W. State Park Road, Mears MI, 49436

It’s more than likely that you’ve heard of Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park and their famous sand dunes, but what about Silver Lake State Park? These grounds cover 3,000 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline, the vast majority of it being sand dunes.

Visitors like to trek and surf the dunes or sandboard on them (though, some forget they have to climb back up them.) Of course, what are sand dunes without a lake? Lake Michigan and Silver Lake sit along these dunes’ coast. As usual, to enter this Michigan State Park you need a Recreation Passport or to pay a fee.

hartwick pines michigan
Hartwick Pines in Grayling MI

Hartwick Pines Old Growth Forest Trail
3612 State Park Dr., Grayling, MI 49738

Sitting in the heart of Hartwick Pines State Park, the Old Growth Forest Trail is a 1.25-mile loop that leads to a 49-acre tract of untouched arbor. One of the largest state parks in the northern lower peninsula, this trail is dog friendly, accessible, paved, and rated as an easy hike.

There are multiple entry points to the path, but the most used is the one found by the Michigan Forest Visitor Center. Best of all, the path is a loop, meaning you can spend less time worrying about directions and more time enjoying the insane overgrowth of white pine surrounding you. This impressive patch of conserved land is open all year round to the public.

Sanilac Petroglyphs
8251 Germania Road, Cass City, MI 48726

Though technically not “natural,” the Sanilac Petroglyphs should be in any curious traveler’s list of things to see. They detail Michigan’s largest known collection of Indigenous American teachings carved in stone, immaculately preserved within lush forests homing century’s old white pine trees.

Located within the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park in Michigan’s Thumb region, it is recommended that visitors set aside at least two hours to explore the entirety of the petroglyphs.

The site housing them is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., from May 26th through September 1st. Tours can either be guided or self-led, leading visitors through a hiking trail made up of lush forests and the remains of a 19th century logging cabin. While a Recreation Passport (or admission fee, $11 for non-residents and $13 for residents) is required to enter the park, visiting the petroglyphs is completely free of charge.

More Way to Explore Natural Michigan

About the Author-
Molly Grossman is a content writer and researcher with an interest in arts and nature. She is currently attending university, where she’s studying English with a minor in business. Working part-time backstage at a local performing arts center as a show supervisor, she fills her free time with hiking at local parks and reading. Though not a Michigan native, Molly adores the state’s natural wonders and indulges in its backpacking opportunities.