Michigan State Parks

Michigan State Parks attract visitors year-round and are considered the finest in the nation. Find out what Pure Michigan is when you visit these areas during Michigan’s distinct four seasons. Michigan state parks and other areas are protected under Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR Parks and Recreation Division manages these lands which administers 109 state parks, state recreation areas and operates 16 state harbors on the Great Lakes. Michigan’s state parks and recreation areas cover over 306,000 acres with 14,100 campsites in 142 campgrounds and over 900 miles of trails. The DNR Parks and Recreation Division also manages 138 state forest campgrounds (including a dozen equestrian campgrounds). The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) operates 746 boat launches on 57,000 acres of designated public water access sites. It also operates 16 “harbors of refuge” as well as providing support for the other 61 harbors in the system. The harbors of refuge are approximately 30 miles apart along the Great Lakes shoreline to provide shelter from storms and often provide boat launches and supplies. There are 11 state underwater preserves covering 2,450 square miles of Great Lakes bottomland and ten of them have a maritime museum or interpretive center in a nearby coastal community.

The Michigan state game and wildlife areas encompass more than 340,000 acres. DNR also oversees the trail systems in the state which includes 880 miles of non-motorized trails, 1,145 miles of rail-trails, 3,193 miles of off-road vehicle routes and 6,216 miles of snowmobile trails. Michigan’s State Forest system covers over 3.8 million acres which supports the largest rustic recreation system in the nation and is the largest State Forest system in the eastern United States. Michigan has National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, and National Parks. Michigan’s state parks system was started in 1919. Two Michigan state parks pre-date the creation of the park system in 1919: Interlochen State Park and Mackinac Island State Park.

Petoskey State Park is a cherished public recreation area expanding over 303 acres on Lake Michigan in Bear Creek Township, Emmet County, Michigan. The state park is nestled in between the city of Petoskey and Harbor Springs on Little Traverse Bay. It is surrounded by heavily vegetated sand dunes called parabolic dunes. Michigan’s state stone, the Petoskey Stone, can be found on the park beach and in surrounding areas like Cross Village and Goodhart. The park occupies part of the site where William Wirt Rice (1833–1891) built a tannery in 1885 at the mouth of what came to be called Tannery Creek. The tannery occupied 180 acres that were eventually divided between Petoskey State Park and the commercial district on U.S. Highway 31. In its prime, the tannery employed some 200 workers and processed over 1000 hides, primarily buffalo, per day. The tannery closed in 1952, and its buildings were torn down in 1963. The City of Petoskey purchased a portion of the tannery’s land north of Tannery Creek in 1934 and created the Petoskey Bathing Beach. The state of Michigan purchased the beach in 1968, took title in 1969, and opened the park’s campground in 1970.

Mackinac Island State Park was created in 1895. It had served as the nation’s second national park from 1875. In 1909, Michilimackinac State Park was created in nearby Mackinaw City. Both of these parks, along with Historic Mill Creek State Park are under the jurisdiction of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission.

Interlochen State Park was purchased by the Michigan Legislature in 1917 and was the first public park to be transferred to the Michigan State Park Commission in 1920. Because Mackinac Island State Park was a federal gift with its own commission and jurisdiction, for those reasons some choose to not consider it the first state park even though it predates Interlochen State Park by nearly 25 years.

Realtors representing Petoskey Real Estate Group have extensive knowledge about local State Parks and will walk you through, step-by-step, buying or selling a home near a State Park. State Parks in an excellent resource opportunity in Northwest Michigan, and we are here to share our knowledge. Give us a call at 231-333-9145 and we will explain everything to you. Or click here to view and extensive list of Michigan State Parks. https://www.michigan.org/article/trip-idea/extensive-list-beautiful-michigan-state-parks

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