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15 Best National and State Parks Near Detroit, Michigan

Boasting access to four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan reigns supreme when it comes to freshwater coastline, making it a prime destination for kayaking, boating, fishing and swimming enthusiasts. 

The Wolverine State’s location also allows for diverse landscapes, including mountainous sand dunes, pristine islands, over 11,000 inland lakes and lush aspen and pine forests. From the Upper Peninsula to downstate, here are the national and state parks you shouldn’t miss.

1. Isle Royale National Park

Image by Per Breiehagan

Where: Keweenaw County, Michigan

What to expect: Wild and remote, you must take a ferry or seaplane out to Lake Superior to reach Isle Royale and the park’s other 400-plus islands. With more than 165 miles of rugged trails, camping and backpacking are perennially popular there, as are water-based activities like boating, fishing and even scuba diving: Below the surface, Isle Royale has the most intact collection of shipwrecks in the National Park Service.

Size: 850 square miles

Amenities: Campgrounds, ferry, floatplane, boat rental, ranger-led programs, restaurants, lodge, cabins, concessions, boat tours, picnic areas, visitor center and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are not allowed.

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including boat tours and campgrounds.

2. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Image by Posnov

Where: Alger County, Michigan

What to expect: America’s first national lakeshore, Pictured Rocks spans more than 40 miles along Lake Superior and gets its name from its colorful sandstone cliffs created by iron, copper, limonite and manganese mineral deposits along the water’s edge. Take in their beauty while kayaking or during a boat tour. On dry land, you can climb towering sand dunes, hike over 100 miles of trails and chase waterfalls, including the picturesque Miners Falls.

Size: 114.5 square miles

Amenities: Visitor center, campground, boast cruises, guided kayak tours, ranger-led programs and picnic areas and hiking and biking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including accessible trails and overlooks.

3. Belle Isle State Park

Image by River North Photography

Where: Wayne County, Michigan

What to expect: Located in the heart of Detroit, this family-friendly park offers plenty to do and see, including the country’s oldest aquarium, a Great Lakes museum, tennis courts, and a swimming beach. The park also recently opened up the first phase of its new Ralph Wilson Gateway and Trail, an off-road path for hikers and bicyclists. 

Size: 1.5 square miles

Amenities: Bike rental, boat rental, concessions, fishing pier, picnic areas, playground, kayak launches, museum, aquarium, nature center, swimming beach and athletic fields and hiking and biking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including kayak launches and a playground.

4. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Image by Kevin Kaiser

Where: Leelanau and Benzie Counties, Michigan

What to expect: This national lakeshore’s main draw is its namesake dunes, and for good reason: The largest one stretches 400 feet above Lake Michigan. When you aren’t trekking upward, explore the park’s 64 miles of sandy shorelines, go on a relaxing scenic drive or take a dip in one of the area’s 21 inland lakes.

Size: 111 square miles

Amenities: Visitor center, scenic drive, ranger-led programs, museum, canoe/kayak rentals and picnic areas, and hiking and biking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: This park has limited accessibility.

5. Negwegon State Park

Image by Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Where: Alpena and Alcona Counties, Michigan

What to expect: One of Michigan’s six designated Dark Sky Preserves, Negwegon’s rustic solitude means nearly zero light pollution—and total peace and quiet. Enjoy sleeping under a blanket of stars and discovering an undisturbed wilderness of dunes, bogs, meadows and aspen forest.

Size: 6.5 square miles

Amenities: Campgrounds, picnic areas, swimming beach and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: This park has limited accessibility.

6. Menominee River State Recreation Area

Image by Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Where: Menominee and Dickinson Counties, Michigan

What to expect: Best known for 17 miles of undeveloped river, outdoors lovers come here to for world-class whitewater rafting straddling the Michigan-Wisconsin border. Numerous waterfalls, rocky gorges and ample wildlife also make this park an ideal spot for hiking and mountain biking.

Size: 15.5 square miles

Amenities: Picnic areas and campgrounds and hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: This park has limited accessibility.

7. Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Image by Ali Majdfar

Where: Chippewa and Luce Counties, Michegan

What to expect: Tahquamenon’s namesake waterfall is the centerpiece of this park, and it doesn’t disappoint. The spectacular cascade sprawls more than 200 feet and drops 50 feet below. There’s plenty more to see in Michigan’s second largest state park, too, including five smaller falls, trails for winter sports and the Tahquamenon River.

Size: 72 square miles

Amenities: Campgrounds, cabins, boat launch, boat rental, concessions, picnic areas, restaurant, fishing pier, cross-country skiing, snowshoe, snowmobiling, ranger-led programs and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including accessible trails and picnic areas.

8. Warren Dunes State Park

Image by Single-Tooth Productions

Where: Berrien County, Michigan

What to expect: Among the most visited of Michigan’s parks, Warren Dunes boasts the second highest sand dunes in the state—a huge draw for hangliding. You’ll also discover a three-mile-long beach, six miles of hiking trails and topnotch birdwatching.

Size: 3 square miles

Amenities: Visitor center, cabins, concessions, kayak/paddleboard rental, picnic areas and beach access, and cross-country skiing and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park offers some accessible amenities, including a swim area and picnic area.

9. Sterling State Park

Image by Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Where: Monroe County, Michigan

What to expect: It’s the only Michigan state park on Lake Erie and less than an hour from Detroit. Locals come here to cozy up in the cabins, fish for walleye and trout, relax on the mile-long beach and hike through the Great Lakes marsh and restored lakeplain prairie habitat.

Size: 14 square miles

Amenities: Beach house, boat launch, boat rental, cabins, concessions, picnic areas, ranger-led programs, campgrounds and playground, and cross-country skiing and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including a boat launch.

10. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Image by Matt Anderson Photography

Where: Ontonagon County, Michigan

What to expect: Affectionately known as the Porkies, the Porcupine Mountains are home to 90-plus miles of hiking trails, pristine old-growth forest, cascading waterfalls and sparkling lakes. Whether you prefer hiking, mountain biking, fishing, skiing or snowmobiling, Michigan’s largest state park is truly a place to get away from it all.

Size: 94 square miles

Amenities: Visitor center, campgrounds, bike rental, canoe/kayak rental, boat launch, cabins, concessions, disc golf, picnic areas, playground and ranger-led programs and cross-country skiing, biking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including a playground and observation platform. 

11. Palms Book State Park

Image by Ehrlif

Where: Schoolcraft County, Michigan

What to expect: Don’t let its petite size fool you. This tiny state park is home to Kitch-iti-kipi a.k.a. Big Spring, Michigan’s largest freshwater spring. Visitors can peer into the clear water to see ancient tree trunks and trout on a self-guided, clear-bottom observation raft tour.

Size: 0.6 square miles 

Amenities: Picnic areas, boat launch, observation raft, playground and concessions and hiking and snowmobiling trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including an accessible trail and observation raft.

12. Hartwick Pines State Park

Image by Ehrlif

Where: Crawford County, Michigan

What to expect: A picturesque destination for hiking, mountain biking, paddling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fishing, Hartwick Pines is one of the largest parks in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Lose yourself in the old-growth forest, where many of the giant beech and maple trees are more than 100 years old.

Size: 15 square miles

Amenities: Campgrounds, cabins, boat launch, boat rental, concessions, fishing pier, picnic areas, museum, visitor center and ranger-led programs and hiking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and biking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including accessible trails and picnic areas.

13. Ludington State Park

Image by Cortfoto

Where: Mason County, Michigan

What to expect: A natural paradise for hikers, campers and even cross-country skiers, this lakeside park offers a diverse ecosystem of sand dunes, marshlands and hardwood forests to explore. You can even go boating, swimming or fishing on seven miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.

Size: 8 square miles

Amenities: Bike rental, boat rental, boat launch, concessions, picnic areas, beach access, lighthouse, fishing pier, ranger-led programs, playground and campgrounds and hiking, cross-country skiing and biking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including a boat launch and picnic areas.

14. Mackinac Island State Park

Image by Posnov

Where: Mackinac County, Michigan

What to expect: Although you must take a ferry or plane to reach Mackinac, the journey is well worth it to visit this quaint, car-less island where the park itself accounts for more than 80 percent of the overall land. Discover over 70.5 miles of trails on foot, bike or horseback, take a tour to Arch Rock and learn about Native American lore and kayak or paddleboard along local waterways.

Size: 3 square miles

Amenities: Visitor center, rental e-bikes, nature center, ranger-led programs, picnic areas and historic sites and equestrian, hiking and biking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including some accessible trails.

15. Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Image by Ehrlif

Where: Keweenaw County, Michigan

What to expect: Located at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, this park features a fort that dates back to the state’s Copper Rush in 1844. You’ll also find two historic Copper Harbor lighthouses. Learn about life on the northern frontier through the living history program, kayak or fish on rocky Lake Superior shoreline and enjoy camping in modern cabins.

Size: 1 square mile

Amenities: Campgrounds, visitor center, cabins, museum, boat launch, ranger-led programs, picnic areas, concessions, fishing pier, playground and historic site and cross-country skiing, biking and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including a fishing pier and picnic areas.

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