13 Beautiful Michigan State Parks You Must Visit

Ludington State Park, Ludington, Michigan
Ludington State Park, Ludington, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR - Gresham Halstead Photography
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With over 103 state parks and recreation areas spanning across Michigan’s two picturesque peninsulas, the Great Lakes State is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground. From towering sand dunes along Lake Michigan to serene inland lakes and mighty waterfalls, these natural wonders offer endless opportunities for adventure. While each park boasts its own unique charm, the following 13 standouts are among the most cherished by locals and visitors alike. So lace up your hiking boots, pack a picnic, and get ready to experience the best of Pure Michigan.

Table of Contents

1. Fayette Historic State Park

Fayette Historic State Park, Garden, Michigan
Fayette Historic State Park, Garden, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Tobi Voigt

Address: 4785 II Rd, Garden, MI 49835

Step back in time at Fayette Historic State Park, where the remnants of a once-booming iron smelting town lie frozen in the 19th century. During its nearly 25-year reign from 1867 to 1891, the Jackson Iron Company produced a staggering 229,288 tons of iron ore from the site’s two blast furnaces. But when the company shuttered operations, the town of Fayette fell into ruin. In the years following its closure various efforts were made to revive the community with a fishing village and summer retreat, but attempts failed with residents fleeing the eerie ghost town. Today, visitors can wander the preserved ruins, tour historical buildings like the iconic stone dock, and camp or boat along the serene shores of Big Bay de Noc.

2. Port Crescent State Park

Port Crescent State Park, Port Austin, Michigan
Port Crescent State Park, Port Austin, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Tyler Leipprandt and Michigan Sky Media LLC

Address: 1775 Port Austin Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467

Nestled along the “Thumb” of Michigan, Port Crescent State Park offers a tranquil escape on the entrance shores of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay. History buffs will delight in exploring the remains of the 19th-century Pack & Woods Sawmill, while outdoor enthusiasts can revel in over 7 miles of hiking trails winding through hardwood forests, a sprawling campground with 142 sites, and a secluded sandy beach. But the park’s true showstopper is its designation as a dark sky preserve, making it one of the best spots in the state for unrivaled stargazing.

3. Straits State Park

View from Straits State Park, St. Ignace, Michigan
View from Straits State Park, St. Ignace, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Lyla Luoto

Address: 720 Church St, St Ignace, MI 49781

With its prime location on the shores of the Straits of Mackinac, this park offers some of the most iconic views in all of Michigan. From nearly any vantage point, visitors can marvel at the impressive Mighty Mac bridge—one of the world’s longest suspension bridges—as it majestically arches over the sparkling waters connecting Lakes Michigan and Huron. With 255 campsites, a stony beach for swimming, and hiking trails that link to the renowned North Country Trail, Straits State Park is a four-season destination.

4. Hartwick Pines State Park

Hartwick Pines State Park, Grayling, Michigan
Hartwick Pines State Park, Grayling, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Lyla Luoto

Address: 3612 State Park Drive, Grayling, MI 49738

Tucked away in the heart of northern Michigan, Hartwick Pines State Park serves as a poignant reminder of the state’s rich logging heritage and the pristine woodlands that once blanketed the region. By the 1920s, rampant deforestation had nearly depleted the towering white pines and red pines that had dominated the local landscape for centuries. But thanks to the foresight of Karen Michelson Hartwick—widow of lumberman Edward Hartwick—49 acres of old-growth forest were preserved and later expanded into the state park. Today, visitors can wander among trees dating back over 300 years on scenic hiking trails, camp under their sprawling canopies, and boat on the serene Bright Lake.

5. Ludington State Park

Ludington State Park, Ludington, Michigan
Ludington State Park, Ludington, Michigan | Photo Credit: Aubry Healy

Address: 8800 M-116, Ludington, MI 49431

With over 5,000 acres of unspoiled beaches, towering sand dunes, and marshy wetlands hugging the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, Ludington State Park is an outdoor mecca. Marvel at the iconic Big Sable Point Lighthouse—proudly guarding the coast since 1876—then lose yourself among the 21 miles of hiking trails crisscrossing the varied terrain. When you need a break, claim your slice of shoreline on the vast sandy beaches or unwind at one of the 360 campsites tucked throughout the park’s lush landscapes.

6. Palms Book State Park

Palms Book State Park, Manistique, Michigan
Palms Book State Park, Manistique, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Tyler Leipprandt and Michigan Sky Media LLC

Address: Sawmill Rd, Manistique, MI 49854

If you’re seeking a truly hidden gem, venture to the serene oasis of Palms Book State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Here, the star attraction is Kitch-iti-kipi—an awe-inspiring natural spring pool dubbed “The Big Spring” by the local Anishinaabe tribe. Marvel as the crystal clear waters, fed by underwater rivers, bubble up through the limestone bedrock from depths of over 40 feet. An observation raft glides visitors across the 200-foot-wide pool, offering a window into the diverse underwater ecosystem thriving below. Thanks to the constant 45-degree temperature of the spring, it remains a vision of icy beauty year-round.

7. Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Holland, Michigan
Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Holland, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Matthew Clara

Address: 6575 138th Ave, Holland, MI 49423

With its 2.5 miles of pristine shoreline and towering sandy bluffs, Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a Lake Michigan paradise just southwest of Holland. Trek along winding footpaths to the top of the sculpted dunes, some reaching up to 200 feet tall, for breathtaking vistas across the blue expanse. Or spend a leisurely day on the sun-drenched beaches, building sandcastles and splashing in the gentle waves. Keep an eye out for the historic Felt Mansion, an imposing 25-room summer home built in 1925 that still overlooks the lakeshore within park boundaries.

8. Mackinac Island State Park

Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island, Michigan | Photo Credit: Pixabay – wnk1029

Address: 7029 Huron Rd, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Step into a living Victorian postcard at Mackinac Island State Park, a beloved sliver of car-free tranquility in the middle of the Straits of Mackinac. Encompassing an impressive 80% of the island, the state park is dotted with limestone bluffs, thick hardwood forests, and glittering inland ponds that beg to be explored on over 70 miles of hiking trails. Stop to marvel at the iconic Arch Rock, a striking geological formation along the rugged shoreline, or tour the historic Fort Mackinac, which preserves over 225 years of military heritage in the Straits.

9. P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, Norton Shores, Michigan
P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, Norton Shores, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Matthew Clara

Address: 6585 Lake Harbor Rd, Norton Shores, MI 49441

As you stroll along the 3 miles of pristine beachfront at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, be sure to pause and take in the spectacular vistas of Lake Michigan’s crashing waves and towering sand dunes. Named after the founder of Michigan’s state park system, this picturesque park along the western coast offers not only prime waterfront access but also abundant opportunities for hiking, birding, and camping in two rustic campgrounds. The park’s nature center is a must-visit, featuring interactive exhibits and live animal displays that bring the region’s ecosystems to life.

10. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Ontonagon, Michigan
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Ontonagon, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Samantha Hagemen Gaina

Address: 33303 Headquarters Rd, Ontonagon, MI 49953

In Michigan’s wild Upper Peninsula, the crown jewel of the state park system sprawls across a whopping 60,000 acres of untamed forests, rushing rivers, and sky-scraping ridgelines. Often nicknamed “The Porkies,” Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a four-season outdoor playground for adventurers of all experiences. Hike a portion of the famed North Country Trail winding through the heart of the park, cast a line for trout in the pristine rivers and lakes, or snowmobile along groomed trails in the winter months. But no visit is complete without catching a glimpse of the breathtaking Lake of the Clouds—an inland lake poised dramatically atop the area’s highest peak.

11. P.H. Hoeft State Park

P.H. Hoeft State Park, Rogers City, Michigan
P.H. Hoeft State Park, Rogers City, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Tyler Leipprandt and Michigan Sky Media LLC

Address: 5001 US-23, Rogers City, MI 49779

Just 4 miles north of Rogers City along the scenic Lake Huron coastline, P.H. Hoeft State Park beckons with its 301 wooded acres and one mile of pristine beachfront. Originally donated by William Hoeft—a prosperous lumberman—in the 1920s, the park has welcomed generations of nature lovers to its tranquil forest trails and sandy shores. Whether you spend the day hiking, biking, swimming, or camping beneath the towering canopy of birches and maples, Hoeft promises a serene escape in northeastern Michigan.

12. North Higgins Lake State Park

North Higgins Lake State Park, Roscommon, Michigan
North Higgins Lake State Park, Roscommon, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Tyler Leipprandt and Michigan Sky Media LLC

Address: 11747 N Higgins Lake Dr, Roscommon, MI 48653

Welcome to the crown jewel of northern Michigan—the pristine waters of Higgins Lake. With a remarkable depth of up to 135 feet, this spring-fed oasis is renowned for its unparalleled clarity and vibrant blue-green hues. Stretching across 449 acres along the lake’s shoreline, North Higgins Lake State Park offers endless opportunities to explore via hiking trails or even boat launches. When you’ve had your fill of frolicking in the lake, retreat to one of the park’s tranquil campsites or recently renovated cabins. South Higgins Lake State Park on the opposite end of the lake is also a stunning park to explore.

13. Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Paradise, Michigan
Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Paradise, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Aubry Healy

Address: 41382 W M-123, Paradise, MI 49768

No visit to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is complete without witnessing the thundering beauty of Tahquamenon Falls—two mesmerizing cascades that cascade along the mighty Tahquamenon River. Though smaller in stature, the Lower Falls are no less captivating, with their auburn waters tumbling over a wide, dramatic span. But for sheer power and volume, the Upper Falls are an undisputed masterpiece. Thanks to an average flow of 50,000 gallons per second from the Tahquamenon’s source springs, the roaring waters crash over a 50-foot sandstone cliff in a stunning display that continues to leave visitors awestruck.

Conclusion

From the sun-drenched shores of the Great Lakes to the untamed wilderness of the Upper Peninsula, Michigan’s diverse state parks offer endless natural wonders to explore. Whether you prefer serene beaches, towering waterfalls, dense old-growth forests, or sweeping sand dunes, the Wolverine State promises unforgettable adventures for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. So pack your sense of wonder and experience the unparalleled beauty of Michigan.

If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited any of these Michigan state parks before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!

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