Celebrate 100 Years of the National Parks Service at These 7 Sites

Today, the National Park Service is celebrating 100 years as sites across Michigan and the U.S. commemorate Founder’s Day. Find out how the 7 National Park Sites in our great state were founded and what they are doing to celebrate, courtesy of guest bloggers representing each of the park sites.

Find Your Park

One hundred years doesn’t come around very often. Indeed, there are few institutions with the staying power of the National Park Service which is celebrating that very rare century mark today!

This week, NPS sites throughout Michigan and beyond are paying tribute to the NPS Centennial – which in fact has been an ongoing celebration since early 2016. Today, the NPS recognizes Founder’s Day as the official birthday of America’s grand institution that serves to preserve and protect its natural wonders.

Each NPS site in Michigan has a truly unique story to tell and offers visitors a chance to escape within a day or less driving distance. Read more about how each park, lakeshore, trail and heritage area were founded as we pay tribute to 100 years.

1. Experience Isle Royale’s unique history and untamed wilderness

Isle Royale National Park, established on April 3, 1940 and designated a National Wilderness in 1976, is the most isolated and wild of Michigan’s seven sites. The park’s stunning vistas are truly a way for visitors to explore wilderness, slow down the pace of life and relax the soul.

The wilderness island has many stories to preserve based around island life and industry. At one time, Isle Royale supported a robust fishing and resort community, and similar to its Keweenaw neighbor, Isle Royale played an important role in the early copper mining industry.

Views of Isle Royale, the least-visited National Park in the nation

Photo Courtesy of Joshua Nowicki Photography

The park has attractions for history buffs as well as outdoor adventurers and hikers. One of the more popular historically preserved sites is the cottage of Elizabeth Kemmer who served coffee and meals to island workers. There are also several beautifully preserved lighthouses on the island such as Rock Harbor.

In celebration of the Centennial, Isle Royale stewards invite adventure-seekers to experience an untamed land for a real escape from life’s hustle and bustle. Here you can enjoy a leisurely guided hike by a park ranger or make unforgettable memories by spotting a moose.

2. Keweenaw: A region shaped by copper

Michigan’s Keweenaw National Historic Park boasts radiant, natural landscapes while also preserving the history of the region’s once vast copper mining industry. In 1992, the National Park Service decided that preserving the natural wonders of the land as well as its history and its assets was important enough to designate the park as a National Historic Park.

The history of Keweenaw’s copper mining dates back at least 7,000 years, and through preservation efforts, industries of long ago such as the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company would be lost to time. According to the park’s enabling legislation, U.S. Congress determined that the Calumet area was essential to telling the story of copper mining on the Keweenaw Peninsula.

The mining industry was once king in the Keweenaw Peninsula

Photo Courtesy of NPS.gov

The Calumet Unit is just one of many enjoyable assets to park patrons, and one of many featured pieces in the park’s day-long Centennial Celebration. While in the area, check out the local bike trails or snowmobile trails if visiting in the winter.

3. Automotive goes beyond Detroit in the MotorCities National Heritage Area

The story of Michigan can hardly be told without including the creation and evolution of the domestic automotive industry. In 1998, U.S. Congress deemed that history to be important enough to require safeguarding, thus the MotorCities National Heritage Area was established by an Act of Congress to preserve, promote and interpret the history of the automotive industry and labor story in southeast Michigan.

The effort to create the MotorCities, originally established as the Automobile National Heritage Area, was led by U.S. Rep. John Dingell and Sen. Carl Levin. The original legislation recognized that, “…the economic strength of our Nation is connected integrally to the vitality of the automobile industry, which employs millions of workers,” and, “the industrial and cultural heritage of the automobile industry in Michigan includes the social history and living cultural traditions of several generations.”

President Bill Clinton signs the Automobile National Heritage Area Act of 1998 creating the MotorCities National Heritage Area.

Photo Courtesy of the MotorCities National Heritage Area

The MotorCities is one of 49 National Heritage Areas in the U.S. and the only one in Michigan. National Heritage Areas are a unique aspect of historic preservation as they protect and promote the country’s most significant historical events that have shaped and impacted culture and economy.

Throughout the Centennial celebration, the MotorCities encouraged would-be adventurers to “Find Your Road Trip,” with a one-of-a-kind tourism guide showcasing 30 automotive historical sites along with Michigan’s National Parks. While there, the world-famous Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village should be near the top of your list of things to see.

To request your own copy of the “Find Your Road Trip” guide, visit motorcities.org/findyourroadtrip

4. North Country Trail

The state’s only National Scenic Trail, North Country National Scenic Trail stretches across 4,600 miles and seven states – including Michigan. Headquartered in Lowell, North Country Trail was created by the National Trails System Act of 1968 and is administered by the National Park Service.

The NCT is the longest of 11 National Scenic Trails established in the U.S. When the Trail was established in 1980, portions of it were designed to follow the already existing Finger Lakes (New York), Baker (Pennsylvania), and Buckeye (Ohio) Trails. Their sponsoring organizations became affiliates of the North Country Trail Association and agreed to maintain those portions of their trails to be used by the North Country National Scenic Trail.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Loudenslager

Most of the NCT’s activity comes from adventurous hikers who brave the rugged terrain and experience wide variety of terrain, flora, and fauna. The NCT offers everything from a leisurely afternoon stroll to a multiday, rigorous long-distance hiking challenge. In every locale, opportunities abound for bird watching, botany, photography, and wildlife study, either alone or as an experience shared with others seeking the respite of the outdoors.

5. Pictured Rocks: America’s first National Lakeshore

Michigan’s vaunted Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is the state’s oldest National Park unit. Established on Oct. 15, 1966, Congress determined the region was important enough “…to preserve for the benefit, inspiration, education, recreational use, and enjoyment of the public, a significant portion of the diminishing shoreline of the United States and its related geographic and scientific features.”

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill, Alger County became the home of America’s first National Lakeshore.

Lovers Leap at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @mc_angela

Protecting the shoreline was a major tenant of the 1966 Congressional Act. The shoreline zone was established to preserve its scenery and outstanding natural features and to provide the benefits of public recreation. The inland buffer zone was created to stabilize and protect the existing character and uses of the land, waters, and other properties. Today, Pictured Rocks is famous for the breathtaking multi-colored sandstone cliffs in which you can kayak to, in addition to a few incredible waterfalls.

Today, stewards of Pictured Rocks work to keep the region’s incredible natural beauty protected while managing ever-increasing visitorship and interest in the park.

6. Discover Michigan’s role in the War of 1812 at River Raisin

The most recent federal land designate in the state, the River Raisin National Battlefield Park was established to preserve the story of the War of 1812 and its impact in southeast Michigan. Congress created River Raisin under the Omnibus Public Land Management Act signed into law on March 30, 2009.

A portrait of the historic River Raisin militia encampment

Photo Courtesy of NPS.gov

The site tells the story of the River Raisin Militia which was called into action during the summer of 1812 to build a military road which was to link Detroit with Ohio. The militia men were the centerpiece of a U.S. force encamped along the north side of the River Raisin when they met a surprise attack on the morning of Jan. 22, 1813 led by 600 British and Canadians and about 800 Native Americans.

A trip to the River Raisin Battlefield Visitor Center will not only be a learning experience for the kids, but it will also be a great adventure. They will love interacting with the soldiers and scenes; they will feel as if they were really there.

7. Preserving Michigan’s maritime history at Sleeping Bear

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is also celebrating its own milestone marking 50 years in 2016. Established by Congress on Oct. 21, 1970, Sleeping Bear Dunes is rich in history from early Native American cultures to the shipping, logging, and agricultural heritage of the area. Even the name of the area comes from the Native American Legend of Sleeping Bear.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of Michigan's most iconic areas

Photo Courtesy of the National Parks Service

Long before there were roads and highways in Michigan, people and goods were being transported regularly on the ships of the Great Lakes. The Manitou Passage (between the Manitou Islands and the mainland) was a busy corridor for commercial shipping. The location of the Manitou Islands made them ideal for a refueling stop for steamers to pick up wood for their boilers. That was one of the driving forces for early settlement of the islands. Docks were built, and trees were cut to fuel the growing Great Lakes Shipping fleet.

The farming legacy of the area is embodied in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District as well as some of the farmsteads on the southern part of the park.

Learn about the logging and farming culture by visiting Glen Haven, the little historic logging village located on the shore of Lake Michigan. There were a number of little logging villages in the area that no longer exist. There isn’t much left of these Ghost Towns, but as you walk around their sites, you will find trace evidence of the people who lived, worked, and played in this country.

How many of Michigan’s seven National Parks Sites have you visited? Share with us by commenting below!

Six Autumn Experiences for a Fall Getaway in the Oscoda Area

This summer has been a memorable one, but we can’t wait for fall! Whether you want to enjoy the changing leaves or learn about unique Michigan history, the Oscoda area offers an unforgettable experience. Read more on just six of the many things to check out when visiting Oscoda, via The Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The chance to experience Michigan’s beauty doesn’t end once fall brings about seasonal changes.

Photo Courtesy of The Oscoda Convention and Visitors Bureau

Photo Courtesy of The Oscoda Convention and Visitors Bureau

The lush greens of spring and summer turn to hues of orange, yellow and brown. Sandals, shorts and T-shirts are replaced by walking shoes, jackets and long pants to more comfortably explore Michigan’s natural beauty.

One perfect Michigan destination for day trippers and weekend explorers is the Oscoda area. Located on the east side of the state and on the south side of the Au Sable River in Iosco County, the Oscoda area features some of the state’s signature sites and experiences.

Here are some sites and experiences the Oscoda area offers for you next Pure Michigan adventure:

  • The 22-mile River Road National Scenic Byway is a great way to take in all the color Northeast Michigan has to offer. It stretches westward from Lake Huron into the Huron-Manistee National Forests. While visiting, don’t forget to drop by the 14-foot bronze Lumberman’s Monument statue and its accompanying visitor’s center. Travelers will also find numerous recreation opportunities, from motorized trails for off-road vehicles to quiet hiking trails.
  • The Iargo Springs Interpretive Site, also located on the River Road Scenic Byway, offers a breathtaking view of the Au Sable River Valley from its observation deck that is 300 feet above the river. The adventurous can also walk down a flight of 294 steps to experience where the underground springs come together and form cold water streams.
Photo Courtesy of The Oscoda Convention and Visitors Bureau

Photo Courtesy of The Oscoda Convention and Visitors Bureau

  • There are more than 3,500 acres of Michigan hiking trails in and around the Oscoda area. Visitors can head out on the Reid Lake Trail and see natural sites like a beaver pond, marshes and bogs, as well as an abundance of birds and wildlife. The Highbanks Trail is a 7-mile trail that gives hikers and backpackers a great view of the Au Sable River. The Highbanks Trail is also where you’ll see the MCRA Canoer’s Memorial Monument, which was erected in memory of canoe racers who have died.
Photo Courtesy of George Falkenhagen of Oscoda

Photo Courtesy of George Falkenhagen of Oscoda

  • The Au Sable and Oscoda Historical Society and Museum is where you’ll find Native American artifacts, as well as information about the region’s history concerning commercial fishing, ship wrecks and the railroad industry. The museum also has information about the Au Sable River, its dams and the notorious fire of 1911 that caused mass destruction to the community.
  • The Au Sable River Queen is the only paddle-wheel boat that runs from summer into fall, allowing passengers to take in the autumn colors from its decks. Passengers can enjoy a two-hour round trip on the Au Sable River, but should dress warm for those fall evenings and call in advance to reserve a spot.
  • Paul Bunyan Days will be held September 23-25 in downtown Oscoda. Come on out and bring the whole family for a day of fun, including carnival rides, craft vendors, a classic car show, a pie eating contest, kids activities and a hospitality tent with live music Friday night and Saturday night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. There is a $5.00 admission fee, but children 16 and under can enter for free. Gates open Friday from 4 p.m.-10 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call 989-739-0900 for more information.

For more information about the Oscoda area and the attractions you’ll find there, go to www.oscoda.com.

What do you plan to do in the Oscoda area this fall?

4 Ways to Stay Toasty This Fall with Michigan Craft Beer

Fall is quickly approaching and that means it’s color tour season. But even if you’re not a fall-color enthusiast, there’s something to look forward to when cooler weather greets the Great Lakes state. This autumn, warm up with a fall flavor tour when you Go Great Lakes Bay, when you can indulge in brewmasters’ fuller, richer, darker brews.

Read more on four ways you can #GoGreat and trace the trails of malty, hoppy goodness from one bold brew-lover’s excursion to the next! 

1. Try a sample at one of Michigan’s newest breweries

Oracle Brewing Company

Scheduled to open this fall at 122 N. Michigan Avenue in Old Town SaginawOracle Brewing Company will offer pub-style service where you can order your beer and take it back to your seat. Although food isn’t on the menu just yet, you’re welcome to bring your own or grab a slice from Old Town Pizzeria which is conveniently located in the same building. Expect a rustic, lounge-type feel from this brewery, with comfortable seating as well as more traditional tables.

Cozy up with a Michigan craft beer this autumn

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

As for beer, get ready to try something new. “We’re ready to bring something completely different to the Great Lakes Region beer scene,” says Chris Younk, co-owner of the new venture with partner Cody Smith. “Right now we’re focused on creating beers that are light and easy drinking, like some very good pale ales.”

For the fall and winter months, they’re planning a few different beers to help keep you toasty. “Our efforts right now are a combination of making the beer we really like to enjoy for the fall and preparing for winter, when people will want an imperial stout or nice double IPA,” explains Younk.

“I like a good pumpkin beer, so we’ll consider that, but we don’t want to put anything out just to put it out,” Younk says. “It still has to meet our expectations.” Oracle Brewing is working with local suppliers to source various Michigan-grown ingredients. “We want to find opportunities to introduce non-traditional flavors into the beer in ways that will meet your expectations.”

One beer you should look out for when Oracle opens this autumn is a nice pale ale. “It will be pale to golden in color, probably around 4.5 – 5% ABV. It’s going to have a nice, decently thick head on it and some tropical fruity notes with some pine and citrus, but it’s going to be subdued. It will be a crisp beer that will make you want to take another sip.”

If you’re a fan of darker beer, you’re in luck! “We have a strong love for coffee, so another beer we’ll have this fall is a chocolate coffee porter or stout,” Younk says.  “It’s going to be a bigger bodied beer, dark brown, almost chestnut in color, with a nice, rich, creamy mouth feel.”

“Come in and see us when we open!” he says.

Other stops in Saginaw:

At JB Meinburg & Woody’s Draught House you’ll find over 100+ beers on tap. It’s a great place to stop for a flight and sample a few. Loggers Brewing Company is also scheduled to open this year – check their website for updates.

While you’re in Saginaw, don’t miss the The Taproom at Stardust Lanes, a unique venue with a fun bowling alley and taproom, where you’re sure to find something you like: the Taproom boasts 41 taps that feature craft beer from Michigan and around the country.

2. Give Hard Cider A Try

With more than 80 varieties of Michigan craft beer, 40 on tap at any time, WhichCraft Taproom in Midland is a beer-fan’s dream. But for those of you who want to try something a little different, they also serve Michigan-made cider (in addition to mead and wine.) If you haven’t yet tried hard cider, think about the traditional fall drink made with apples, then imagine it fermented and spiced. Similar to craft beer, cider makers start with a base and tweak it to produce different varieties and flavors. Whichcraft has several different kinds in cans or bottles (not on tap) so you can get a feel for what you like.

The Whichcraft Taproom has more than 40 delectable Michigan craft beers on tap

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

Eastman’s Forgotten Ciders

In the small town of Wheeler, about half an hour southwest of Midland,  you’ll find, Eastman’s Forgotten Ciders, an apple orchard that doesn’t just grow and pick apples-they ferment and bottle cider, too. You can try the goods in their tasting room where they feature cider on tap.

Other stops in Midland:

The Great Lakes Bay Region has a lot of award-winning brews and Midland Brewing Company has won several, including a Bronze Medal at the World Expo of Beer for its Three Mile Marker Hefeweizen, which should be available this fall. Stop by and see what’s on tap.

3. Raise a glass at Michigan’s oldest brewery

Frankenmuth Brewery

The historical Frankenmuth Brewery has been operating in the iconic town of Frankenmuth for more than 150 years. Not content to rest on their historical laurels, Frankenmuth continues to create new brews and winning awards for their efforts, including two gold and one bronze medal at the 2016 World Expo of Beer.

Get ready for a blast from the past when you enter this functional but attractive brewery. “The bar and the back bar look like an old-school German brewery with wood floors and dark wood booths,” says Steve Buszka, Frankenmuth Brewery’s Brewmaster.

Frankenmuth Brewery is a must-visit when in the Great Lakes Bay Region

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

This brewery is indeed old-school, but the beer is what locals and visitors alike look to enjoy in the city. “We make everything from light Kölsh to oatmeal coffee stout and everything in between,” says Buszka. Of our 20 beers on tap, 6 are German-style beers, but we’re also a craft-centric Michigan brewery.” That means that in addition to German beers, Frankenmuth serves their highly drinkable flagship brews, creative seasonal releases, and unique small batch brews.

This fall, Frankenmuth Brewing will craft a chestnut brown ale made with toasted chestnuts, that’s as-of-yet unnamed (just ask for it by description when you get there). “The toasted chestnuts impart a very autumn flavor to the beer,” Buszka says.

They’ll also be introducing two enticing IPAs, one of which, Ted Nugget, is made with 100% Michigan grown nugget hops. “The nugget hop is a hop varietal that’s going to have an earthy bitterness but a very citrusy, light grapefruit flavor to it,” says Buszka. If you’re an IPA fan be sure to ask for Wicked Warlock, a west-coast style Double IPA that they’ll have this fall. “I like to make beer that is balanced and smooth,’” Buszka says. “I know I’ve done my job right if you drink one, order another, and contemplate ordering a third!”

When you Go Great Lakes Bay region this autumn, you can also try their Oktoberfest beer and pumpkin beer. “We use all German hops, malts, and yeast in our Oktoberfest beer, which is going to be a very light amber beer with a nice, malty aroma,” says Buszka.

Pumpkin Chucker, their pumpkin brew, will “taste like liquid pumpkin pie, but it’s 8% alcohol,” Buszka cautions. Although many breweries sell their pumpkin beer on the market, Frankenmuth only serves it in-house. “Ours is just at the brewery, so if you want to try it, you’ll have to take a little trip to Frankenmuth.”

Other stops in Frankenmuth:

If you’re in the mood for traditional German food and want to try a few other Michigan beers (as well as a few from around the country), swing by Sullivan’s Black Forest Brew Haus & Grill while you’re in town.

4. Try the brewery whose beers have won a gold, silver and bronze

Tri-City Brewing Company 

If the summer Olympics has you dreaming of podium wins, Tri-City Brewing Company in Bay City is your next stop. In 2007, the second beer they introduced after opening, Phelan, won a bronze medal at its first World Expo of Beer. Tri-City has continued turning out winners, including three golds and a silver at the 2016 World Expo of Beer.

If you visit this fall, you can still find Tri-City Brewing at its original location (3020 North Water Street), which is truly  inviting with high ceilings and a bit of an industrial feel (it’s located in a former warehouse). But this popular brewery is growing so they’ll have new digs later this year (4170 Shrestha Drive). The new location will almost double their seating capacity giving them the capability to expand their tap line, which means they’ll have more tasty brews for you to try.

Make a splash this autumn by sharing Michigan craft beers with your friends

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

You’ll find several Belgian beers on tap at Tri-City, because they’re a favorite of Brewmaster Paul Popa. “Belgian beers are different in the sense that they’re very flavorful and the aroma profiles is dominated by the Belgium yeast,” explains Popa. They often have floral or clove notes; you may pick up rose aroma or bubble gum notes or get a spiciness from a white or black pepper note.”

You can also look forward to their seasonal beers, like Oktoberfest. “That’s always a big one for us,” says Popa. “Our Oktoberfest is a little darker than most, with darker gold notes and almost an orange color. It’s a very malty, very clean lager, with about 6% alcohol. To me, it represents fall. I call it autumn in a glass.”

Another seasonal beer you’ll want to try is Tri-City’s Brownhoist Ale, whose namesake, Industrial Brownhoist, was once a major manufacturer of industrial cranes in the area. “We’ve won several awards with that beer,” Popa says. “It’s an easy drinking English brown ale, not too hoppy, very earthy, with caramel to toffee notes and only about 4.8% alcohol. It’s great in the fall when the weather starts to cool and leaves start to change.”

As long as you’re there, you should give their flagship beer, Hell’s Half Mile a whirl. Named after a rougher part of town in the old lumbering days, it’s a German lager with some malty, toasty notes. “It’s a very easy drinking beer and it’s the beer that we recommend people start with when they come here,” Popa says. “It’s very clean but has some flavor to it.”

Other stops in Bay City:

Lumber Barons Brewery is housed in an old lumber mill. Try the BBQ at Rusty Saw Smokehouse, located inside the brewery. With delicious flatbreads and 54 rotating taps featuring beers from Michigan and around the country, Tavern 101 is also worth a stop! If you’re in the mood for schnitzel, stop by Stein Haus and try theirs, while you sample the beers on tap.

For a unique group experience, schedule a ride to pedal your way along a Bay City pub tour on Sunrise Pedal Trolley (rides also available in Frankenmuth).

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting the Great Lakes Bay region? Share with us by commenting below!