It’s National Park Week! Every year in April, National Park Week celebrates America’s national parks. It’s a time to explore the natural wonders that these protected areas have to offer. From ranger-led programs and guided hikes to nature walks and wildlife viewing, there’s something for everyone. Also, it’s a time to learn about sustainable practices like Leave No Trace to protect the biodiversity of our national parks. National parks truly play such an important role in helping to protect our natural environments and should be respected.

Never been? Well, the first day of National Park Week you’ll be able to enter all national parks for free. What an awesome opportunity to experience the wonders of nature without spending a ton of money.

So now that you know about the week, do you know the history of our national parks? Back in the 1800’s people were exploring out west and calls grew louder to protect those lands. In 1872, President Grant signed into law the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act, creating the world’s first national park. Over the next few decades, several more were established, including Sequoia, Yosemite, and Mount Rainier. Today, there are 63 in the United States, covering over 84 million acres of land.

Well, you do not need to travel very far to visit a National Park! We actually have 6 sites right here in Michigan? They are Isle Royale National Park, Keweenaw National Historic Park, The North Country Trail (NCT), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, & the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. I will detail each below and share with you which ones I have explored!

If you can’t make the trip, or are just curious to learn more, be sure to check out the Barack Obama narrated 5-part series called “Our Great National Parks” on Netflix. You can view that trailer here.

  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

    I have kayaked and backpacked the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore which was one of the most incredible experiences in my life. Most people have no idea about this beautiful side of Michigan. I certainly did not until I made the trip. Never knew Michigan was so beautiful!

    Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a stunning national park located on the northern shore of Lake Superior in Michigan. The park spans over 70,000 acres and is famous for its towering sandstone cliffs, stunning waterfalls, and pristine forests.

    One of the main attractions of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is the 42-mile-long Pictured Rocks Cliffs. These cliffs are composed of multicolored sandstone and rise up to 200 feet above the surface of the lake. The cliffs are also home to several stunning waterfalls, including Miners Falls, Munising Falls, and Sable Falls which i have also had the pleasure to visit.

    In addition to the cliffs and beaches, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, moose, wolves, and bald eagles. The park also offers opportunities for hiking, camping, kayaking, and other outdoor activities, as well as ranger-led programs and educational exhibits.

    It is honestly one of the most beautiful places in the country & I encourage you to visit it.

  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

    Visiting this area is one of my absolute favorites. There is such a variety of trails to explore it is incredible! For instance, I have hiked in the dark on the Pyramid Point trail to catch the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen across Lake Michigan.

    Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a beautiful national park located along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan in Michigan. The park covers over 71,000 acres of land and includes miles of sandy beaches, towering dunes, and lush forests.

    One of the main attractions of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is the massive sand dunes that tower over Lake Michigan. The dunes reach heights of up to 450 feet and provide visitors with stunning views of the lake and surrounding area. The park offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, swimming, and fishing.

  • Isle Royale National Park

    Isle Royale NP

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    This National Park is at the very top of my list to visit. One of the main attractions of Isle Royale National Park is its backcountry wilderness, which is accessible only by foot or boat. The park features over 165 miles of trails that wind through stunning forests, along pristine lakeshores, and up to breathtaking overlooks. Visitors can hike, camp, fish, and explore the park’s wilderness to their heart’s content.

    Another popular attraction at Isle Royale National Park is the park’s unique wildlife. The park is home to several rare and endangered species, including gray wolves, moose, and otters. Visitors can observe these creatures in their natural habitats and learn more about their behavior and ecology through ranger-led programs and educational exhibits.

    Isle Royale National Park is also famous for its ancient forests, which feature towering trees that are hundreds of years old. The park is home to several different types of forests, including boreal, hardwood, and cedar swamps, each with its unique character and beauty.

    Everyone I know says a trip here is the experience of a lifetime!

  • The North Country Trail (NCT)

    Hiking trail marker sign, footpath sign, in nature reserve. Hiking...

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    Now, I have definitely put in some miles on the NCT (The North Country Trail), but I have not completed it. While some brave souls have, most people have not. And that is because it is a long-distance hiking trail that spans over 4,600 miles across seven states, including Michigan. The Michigan portion of the trail covers over 1,150 miles and winds through some of the state’s most beautiful landscapes.

    In addition to its natural beauty, the North Country Trail also passes through several historic and cultural sites. Hikers can explore abandoned mines, historic logging camps, and even the Mackinac Bridge, which spans the Straits of Mackinac and connects Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.

    The North Country Trail in Michigan is accessible year-round and offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and snowshoeing. The trail is also home to several organized events and programs throughout the year, such as guided hikes, trail cleanups, and educational workshops.

  • Keweenaw National Historic Park

    Ruins of an abandoned stone building in a mining complex in the...

    Ruins of an abandoned stone building in a mining complex in the Keweenaw National Historic Park in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

    Keweenaw National Historical Park is located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It was once a booming copper mining region in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The park covers over 1,700 acres of land and has historical attractions, hiking, camping, and fishing. The park is home to several scenic trails that wind through the forests and along the shoreline, offering visitors stunning views of Lake Superior and the surrounding landscape.

    I have not been, but it is definitely on my list as you can also catch the Northern Lights in that area occasionally as well.

  • River Raisin National Battlefield Park

    Now, River Raisin National Battlefield Park is definitely a place I should visit as it’s the closest to me out of all of Michigan’s national parks. It is located in Monroe and the park preserves and commemorates the site of the Battle of the River Raisin, which took place during the War of 1812.

    Visitors can explore the park’s visitor center to view historical items. You can also enjoy the outdoors with hiking, birdwatching, and fishing.

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