Michigan’s best national parks


The names of Michigan’s national parks may not roll off the tongue like some of the more famous parks of the American West – in fact, Isle Royale National Park is one of the least-visited places in the USA’s portfolio of treasures – yet those who head north for nature are rewarded with rugged quiet, pristine wilderness and decidedly fewer crowds. 

The unspoiled coasts of Michigan’s Lake Superior and Lake Michigan harbor two of America’s three national lakeshores. Elsewhere, travelers are tempted with scenic solitude on an isolated island, War of 1812 nostalgia and copper-mining-related heritage, among other lesser-known gems.

These are the best national parks in Michigan. And you’ve probably never heard of them.

Forge new connections on your next adventure with the latest advice from our weekly newsletter. A man in a kayak approaches the multi-colored cliffs at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Lake Superior, Upper Peninsula, Michigan, USAKayaking is a great way to get closest to the yellow sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore © Michael Olson / Getty Images

1. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Best national park for nature

America’s first national lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along the shores of Lake Superior harbors a cavalcade of natural wonders. The Upper Peninsula park’s namesake yellow sandstone cliffs and caves are awash with green and blue minerals, which form a kaleidoscopic spectrum that perhaps is best appreciated as you paddle by in a kayak. 

Filling out the natural offering here are colorful caverns, picturesque waterfalls, imposing rock archways and dramatic rock and cave formations, all of which embark on color-shifting journeys as the sun – and seasons – change.

Can’t-miss attractions within the park include Grant Portal Point, where Lake Superior’s azure waters collide with…

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