“From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines…The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine…All seems beautiful to me.” (Walt Whitman)

The Mackinaw Bridge, pictured above with my nephew, Brendan, is one of the most spectacular sights to see in Michigan, but in this post I am talking about natural wonders, and, in particular, about scenic views that raise the awe factor to its highest level in Pure Michigan! Michigan has more shoreline than Florida or California, and it is not that surprising that all three of my picks are essentially associated with Great Lakes – two with Lake Superior and the other with Lake Michigan (two in the Upper Peninsula and one in the Lower).

Just last Friday I picked up my nephew at 5:45 in the morning, and we headed north up I-75 for several hours eventually reaching Mackinaw City at the tip of the Michigan mitten, and there we stopped for a few minutes to walk the shore and gander at the mighty Mackinaw Bridge (which crosses the strait where Lakes Michigan and Huron meet). Crossing the bridge and into the Upper Peninsula, we entered Saint Ignace, a town named in honor of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

From St. Ignace we headed west on M-28 for the long drive to the western end of the Upper Peninsula, passing by the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior, and then the U.P.’s largest city, Marquette, named in honor of the great Catholic missionary, Father Jacques Marquette. We finally made it to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, setting up our tent about twenty-five yards from the shore of Lake Superior. The stars were so amazing that night that it felt as if we were in a planetarium!

The next day we were to be amply rewarded for our journey when we drove a few miles from our camp to the Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains. I knew I had to visit the Porcupine Mountains before I could write this post because so many people had told me about how beautiful they are. The picture below (of the Lake of the Clouds) is from our trip and speaks for itself!

With my trip now completed, here is my selection of the three most beautiful, awe-inspiring places in Michigan.

  1. Tahquamenon Falls (both the Upper and Lower Falls)

  2. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (in particular the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive with its many stop and get out points)

  3. Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains

I believe these three places are three of the most stunning and awe-inspiring places you can visit in Michigan, not that there aren’t many more (but these three make the very top of my list). Here’s a picture of my daughter Bridget and myself at the Sleeping Bear Dunes (taken a few years ago).

The natural world is replete with rays of God’s infinite beauty, so get out there and enjoy God’s creation and reap all the benefits of contact with nature and its rejuvenating qualities.

“The aesthetic value of creation cannot be overlooked. Our very contact with nature has a deep restorative power; contemplation of its magnificence imparts peace and serenity. The Bible speaks again and again of the goodness and beauty of creation, which is called to glorify God.”  (Pope John Paul II, 1990 World Day of Peace Message, no. 14.)

Thomas L. Mulcahy

P.S. I have lived in Michigan most of my life and I have camped at approximately 17 State Parks located in various places on the Great Lakes of Huron, Superior and Michigan.

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