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Top 20 Outdoor Adventures In Michigan

Kayaking near Pictured Rocks Munising Michigan

Top 20 Outdoor Adventures In Michigan

Are you looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure in Michigan?

Michigan is the 26th state of the United States.

Also called the mitten state, Michigan is home to millions of acres of forest cover, thousands of inland lakes, and over three thousand miles of shoreline. 

Being so rich in diverse natural beauty, it’s no wonder why many consider Michigan to be an outdoors state.

This fact is certainly never lost on folks looking for their next epic outdoor adventure.

Whether you’re looking for an adventure spot with lots of water or forests, you’ll find plenty of both in the mitten state. 

Outdoor Fun in Michigan 

With the mitten state having so many adventure spots to choose from, you might find it hard to narrow your choices down to just a few.

We’ve got you covered. Read through our top 10 picks below to get some ideas for your next epic outdoor adventure. 

Without further ado: 

1. Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore: Climb the Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a United States National Lakeshore located along Michigan’s Lower Peninsula northwest coast in Leelanau and Benzie counties near Empire, Michigan. The park is renowned for the huge scalable dunes of the Dune Climb which can take 3 to 4 hours to climb. These dunes were formed during the Ice Age when continental glaciers spread southward from Canada repeatedly burying the area under the ice. The movement of these glaciers deposited glacial sands on plateaus high above the shore which eventually formed the perched dunes we know today. 

2. Jordan River: Winter Rafting 

Continuing with Michigan winter adventure ideas, why not try winter rafting in the scenic Jordan River?Jordan River is a great spot for winter rafting with your family if you’re looking for a less-crowded spot. Be ready to spot some of the local wildlife, like birds, deer, and maybe coyotes, along the shoreline. The current isn’t whitewater but moves fast enough to not need a lot of paddling. There are a few spots with fast-moving water, some tight turns, and the occasional fallen tree that you’ll have to limbo under. 

3. Eben Junction: Ice Cave Exploring 

Another great place to visit in the Michigan winter is the Eben ice caves, also known as the Rock River Canyon Ice Caves in the Upper Peninsula. Located in the center of the Upper Peninsula, the ice caves form when melting snow runs over the edge of the small cliff before freezing in place. You won’t find any water running over the edge of the cliff during summer, hence, you’ll only get to experience these ice caves during winter.Unlike most other entries on this list, the Eben ice caves aren’t an attraction that you can view from your card. You will need to get out and do some hiking, albeit, not so much. Do remember to wear ice cleats as the slippery trail can be treacherous.  

4. Munising: Kayak to See the Pictured Rocks 

If you’re planning your Michigan adventure for spring, you may want to view the Pictured Rocks via kayak in Munising. The gorgeous cliffs of the Pictured Rocks are colored in shades of brown, tan, and green by the iron, manganese, limonite, and copper in the water. Through the steady trickle of water down the rocks or giant waves slamming into the cliffs, the sandstone cliffs eventually formed the Pictured Rocks of today. In the past, folks were allowed to rent kayaks and view the Pictured Rocks unguided. But, because of the hazards of Lake Superior, it’s highly recommended to take a guided tour instead. Pictured Rocks Kayaking, Paddling Michigan, and Northern Waters Adventures are three of the most recommended. Be sure to wear clothes in layers to guard against the cold weather and rain. 

5. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park: Wildflower Hiking and Camping

Spanning roughly 60,000 acres, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is renowned as Michigan’s largest state park and is one of the last large wilderness areas in the Midwest. Also known as “The Porkies”, the park has almost 110 miles of trails winding past cascades, streams, backcountry campsites, and an almost infinite number of picturesque panoramic views. Enjoy hiking through wildflower trails in the spring or taking in the various colors in autumn. Alternatively, you can also go for some backcountry camping in any one of the park’s 63 campsites.  

6. Menominee River: Whitewater Rafting 

Winter rafting on the Jordan River with your family can be quite a memorable experience but if you’re looking for some adrenaline-pumping, edge of your seat action, you might want to try some whitewater rafting over at Menominee River instead. The Menominee River is dam-controlled with flows ranging from around 1,500-15,000 CFS, sitting at 900 CFS during drier times.It’s best to visit in the spring, from late May to late June, which is when there are smaller crowds and cooler river temperatures. 

7. Big M Recreation Area: Cross-country Skiing and Biking 

With over 18+ miles of groomed classic skiing and trails tailored for easy, moderate, and advanced skill levels, Big M Recreation Area is a great choice for any winter sports enthusiast. Big M also offers a warming shelter so you can catch a break and share stories with other skiers you might meet on the trail. Cross-country skiing isn’t all that Big M offers, though. It’s also a great spot for winter mountain biking or fat tire biking. Big M is known as one of the best biking destinations in the lower peninsula with its 25-mile one-way single track loop and one of the area’s first groomed fat tire/winter single track. 

8. Isle Royale National Park: A Lot of Options

Isle Royale National Park is a rugged and isolated island surrounded by Lake Superior. The park offers opportunities for all sorts of outdoor adventures such as hiking, backpacking, boating, kayaking, canoeing, and scuba diving. Another interesting thing to note when visiting Isle Royale is the abundance of wildlife. With several species of critters calling the island home, be prepared to spot animals like foxes, wolves, moose, otters, beavers, boreal chorus frogs, garter snakes, and a bunch more while out on your trip. 

9. Lake Huron: Autumn Salmon Fishing 

If you’re going to Michigan looking for some autumn fishing then you might want to check out Lake Huron. Not only is Lake Huron one of the most beautiful lakes in Michigan’s eastern lower peninsula, but it also has the longest shorelines of any of the Great Lakes. There you’ll find healthy populations of lake trout, walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, and (of course) salmon. You may want to head out on a charter to cover more ground quicker than being on foot. If you’re a stationary angler, you might find virtually unlimited options along the lake’s 3,200 miles of shorelines. 

10. North Country Trail: Hiking 

The North Country National Scenic Trail, a.k.a The North Country Trail or N.C.T, is a footpath stretching over 4,800 miles from Lake Sakakawea State Park in central North Dakota in the United States to Middlebury in central Vermont. It’s the longest of the 11 National Scenic Trails authorized by Congress. Passing through the eight states of Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota, the N.C.T connects both the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail with the Lewis and Clark Trail. The N.C.T is a great choice if you’re going to Michigan looking to day-hike a few miles or going on a longer overnight backpacking trip.  

11. Makinac Island

I'm David Aston, Founding Nomad of AdventureHacks, Inc. My mission is to inspire adventure on the ground, in the water and through the air. If I also happen to inspire you to purchase gear, my team and I plant a tree in its native environment for every order.

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