Michigan has more than 100 state parks peppered all over the map.

They stretch south from Monroe north to Muskallonge Lake. So where to start?  Here’s a guide to the greatest state parks in the Great Lakes State.

Lower Peninsula

Grand Haven State Park leads off the list. Grand Haven sits just south of where Grand River meets Lake Michigan. At only 48 acres, it’s proof that good things come in small packages.

Hartwick Pines of Grayling makes for a great getaway. From Pure Michigan:

Hartwick’s rolling hills overlook the East Branch of the Au Sable River. It is [great] for hiking, paddling, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hunting, fishing, birding with 21 miles of year-round trails, including the accessible 1.25-mile paved Old Growth Forest Trail.”


Ludington State Park is a 5,300-acre treasure on the Third Coast. “The Queen of Michigan State Parks” showcases six miles of shimmering Lake Michigan shores.

On the east edge is heavenly Hamlin Lake. Choose from an array of aquatic adventures with kayaks, paddleboats and rowboats all available to rent.

Next is the majestic Maybury State Park of Northville Township. Maybury spans almost 1,000 acres accented by numerous natural wonders.

II’s a magnificent millieu for biking, camping, fishing and hiking.


Muskegon State Park stretches over 1,200 acres, with a striking two-mile strip on Lake Michigan. Plus a mile running along Muskegon Lake.

Some of the park’s perks include fishing piers and picnic areas.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park in Holland is a scenic summer spot. A number of sloping trails will take you directly down to Lake Michigan.

Saugatuck Dunes offers visitors two and a half miles of pristine coastline.

Just north of Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes soar 450 feet high above the Lake Michigan shores. Sleeping Bear Dunes has lush forests and crystal clear lakes.

Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer is a stellar 1,950-acre site north of Union Pier. Hobbyists head there for bird watching and hang gliding, among other things.

For information about recreation passports/tags, click on Michigan.gov.

Upper Peninsula

Fayette Historic State Park can be found in the southwest Upper Peninsula. It borders Big Bay de Noc, south of Hiawatha National Forest.

Fayette’s 5 miles of trails offer amazing views from the 90-foot limestone cliffs that surround the harbor.

Isle Royale National Park in Keweenaw County, though technically run by U.S. Department of the Interior, is a crown jewel of the U.P.

Isle Royale rests on Lake Superior not far from Thunder Bay. Backpacking, boating, diving and paddling are ideal activities at this expansive reserve.

Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park is a 960-acre gem hidden in Rock River Township near Munising.

The falls cascade through a picturesque gorge with old-growth white pine and hemlock trees towering above. Three observation platforms show views of the falls from different levels, they may be reached by a half-mile hike through beech-maple forest.

Mackinac Island State Park is a jewel on Lake Huron that measures 1,800 acres. Among the park’s main attractions are:

Historic landmarks, breathtaking vistas, spectacular rock formations, quiet forests and inspiring nature trails. These sites are accesible by foot and bike, rented horse or buggy, sightseeing carriages or horse-drawn taxi.

Palms Book State Park in Manistique is a pearl of the Upper Peninsula. Palms Book lies on the western banks of Indian Lake.

Big Spring or Kitch-iti-kipi, is a Michigan marvel measuring 200 feet wide and 40 feet in depth. Also known as “Mirror of Heaven”, the spring streams through cracks in the limestone below.


A user-guided observation raft gives visitors up close views of the underwater sights.

Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park on Lake Superior has been rated a top tier destination in the nation. “The Porkies” have seen a surge of public interest in recent years. Travel Lens has pegged Porcupine Mountain as the most beautiful state park in America.

At roughly 60,000 acres, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness is Michigan’s largest state park. It includes a 35,000-acre old-growth forest, waterfalls, miles of rivers and streams, more than 90 miles of hiking trails, campgrounds, and backcountry camping. Popular attractions include the Lake of the Clouds, Presque Isle River, and Summit Peak observation tower. 

Presque Isle Park of Marquette is far smaller but every bit as beautiful with arching cliffs over Lake Superior. Don't miss the Black Rocks:

These 1.7 billion years old rock formations along the shores of Lake Superior are primarily composed of a type of igneous rock called basalt. Basalt forms from the rapid cooling of lava flows, which occurred during volcanic activity millions of years ago in the region. The contrast of the dark basalt against the blue waters of Lake Superior creates a [stunning] landscape.” 

Sunset Point is the showstopper.

On the last stop, a real-life Paradise awaits at Tahquamenon Falls State Park.