Traveling in Michigan

  • These two peninsulas are dotted with more than 11,000 inland lakes, laced with 36,000 miles of rivers and streams and defined by a 3,200-mile Great Lakes coastline-a shoreline dotted with more than 100 public beaches, some of the highest freshwater sand dunes in the world, stunning multi-colored sandstone cliffs, two National Lakeshores and the only national marine sanctuary in the Great Lakes-the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron. More than 100 lighthouses, numerous maritime museums, ten shipwreck-diving preserves and historic military fortifications rim Michigan's Great Lakes shoreline.

    Michigan is defined not only by its vast expanses of water but also by the forests that cover more than 30,000 square miles-more than half the size of the state. Lakes, campgrounds, wildlife refuges and 99 state parks and recreation areas create a wide variety of recreational pursuits. Rivers for water sports, and thousands of miles of hiking, biking, cross country skiing and snowmobiling trails thread their way among some 100 species of trees.

    Hundreds of islands dot Michigan waters. Isle Rale National Park is a remote wilderness retreat in Lake Superior where wolves and moose roam free. Mackinac Island, located in the Straits of Mackinac, is a lush 19th-century resort community fixed firmly in the Victorian era-a car-free island dominated by an 18th-century fort and the more than a century-old Grand Hotel, America's largest summer resort hotel.

    A maritime climate has blessed Michigan agriculture with one of the most diverse ranges of crops in the United States and golfers with more than 900 courses with long hours of daylight in summer and a lingering autumn season. It is no wonder that Michigan visitors enjoy fruit right off the tree, fine wine from local vintners, golf on designer courses, and nearly a score of some of the best and largest resorts in the Midwest.

    That same maritime climate guarantees a steady stream of snow-laden winds from the Great Lakes all winter long-making Michigan the winter sports capital of the Midwest-with more than 40 downhill ski areas, more than 6,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, some 3,500 kilometers of cross-country ski trails, dogsled races, ice fishing and a full season of winter festivals.

    The Upper Peninsula, which is 90 percent forested, retains its aura of accessible wilderness. Vast wildlife and waterfowl refuges, 150 waterfalls, iron and copper mines, the Soo Locks (where ocean-going freighters make the 21-foot leap from Lake Superior to Lake Huron) are within an easy drive of one another.

    And Detroit, the largest metropolitan area in Michigan, boasts one of the country's largest and finest art museums, a world-renowned symphony orchestra, a revitalized theater district, the home of the Motown sound, the largest African American history museum in the country, homes of the "Auto Barons," major league sports, and America's most popular indoor/outdoor history museum complex-The Henry Ford.