Michigan's Great Lakes

Discover the Fresh Coast

Michigan’s iconic shape is framed by four of the Great Lakes: Superior, Huron, Erie and Michigan.

The Great Lakes of Michigan

Man and woman parked in a vintage van on a Lake Michigan beach.

Lake Michigan


Lake Huron


Lake Superior

Tree on the shore of Lake Erie.

Lake Erie


Michigan—whose name is rooted in the Ojibwa word for “large lake,” Michi Gami—was carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. This process created the iconic lakes that have formed the state both physically and culturally ever since. With the longest freshwater coastline in the nation, a trip to Michigan is incomplete without experiencing the beauty and power of the Great Lakes. 

The Great Lakes account for one fifth of the world's supply of surface fresh water, and Michigan is home to four of the five of these magnificent bodies of water. Lake Michigan forms the western coast of the Lower Peninsula with sugar-sand shores lined with sand dunes—most notably the towering bluffs of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. At the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron beneath the iconic Mackinac Bridge.

The majority of Michigan’s eastern border is spanned by Lake Huron. Better known as the “Sunrise Side,” this shore is famous for its spectacular views of the sun peeking over the water’s horizon. Just below the "Thumb," in the southeast corner of the state, is Lake Erie. While Erie’s Michigan lakeshore is the smallest of the four lakes, the wildlife and hiking makes it a tranquil escape from the excitement of southeast Michigan's cities. 

Along the northern shore of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is the untamed beauty of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. Here you can marvel at 42 miles of sandstone cliffs found in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore spanning from Munising to Grand Marais. Lake Superior is also home to Isle Royale National Park which is home to miles of backcountry hiking trails and thriving wildlife.