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10 Facts vs. Myths About Alpena, MI

Posted on February 15th, 2019
As residents of Alpena, we hear a lot of misconceptions about our beautiful hometown. Like, “is it really cold there ALL the time?!”, or “there’s nothing to do in Alpena!”. Well, take a seat.  We are about to explore the facts vs.myths of Alpena, Michigan! 

Myth: Alpena has rocky beaches everywhere.

Fact: Alpena has sandy beaches everywhere! In fact, we only have a couple of  Lake Huron beaches that are “rocky”, such as Rockport State Recreation Area and the shore of the Presque Isle Lighthouses.


Myth: There is nothing to do in Alpena, Michigan.

Fact: There is a lot to do in Alpena, Michigan! Where do we even start…just pick a season and there are endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, exploring, downtown shopping, festivals, and eating and drinking. Check out our Sanctuary of the Great Lakes Adventure Guides, Adventure Checklist, and Alpena’s Top 10 Adventure Experiences, for some ideas!


Myth: Alpena is practically the North Pole.

Fact: Alpena lies on the 45th parallel, which means it is HALFWAY to the North Pole…which is a big difference! And don’t forget, location is everything! We love everything about our location. That’s part of what makes Alpena so special!


Myth: Alpena is a made-up name.

Fact: This one is up for debate. It is written that Henry Schoolcraft combined syllables from different languages to form the name Alpena. ‘Al’, a Native American syllable meaning “the”, and ‘pena’, believed to have been taken from the Arabic word ‘pinai’ meaning “partridge”, the old French word ‘peanaisse’, which means “bird”, or the Latin word ‘penna’ which translates to “feather”. However, other sources state the word ‘aw-pena’ means partridge in the Chippewa language. If this is true, then the name “Alpena” (aw-pena) was already in existence before Schoolcraft.


Myth: You must wait 30 minutes after eating before swimming in Lake Huron.

Fact: Although you may be uncomfortable, there is no medical reason for waiting to swim in Lake Huron after eating. So dive in and explore those shipwrecks!


Myth: Cracking your knuckles while hunting for fossils at Rockport State Recreation Area will give you arthritis.

Fact: Nope. There is zero evidence to support this. So get crackin’ and collecting!


Myth: The bats at Rockport State Recreation Area are blind.

Fact: This is false. None of the roughly 1,100 species of bats are blind. Our little furry, flying friends in the Bat Hibernaculum at Rockport are able to detect all the visually stunning views around the park.


Myth: A hat is the most important thing to wear while snowshoeing at Norway Ridge.

Fact: It is not true that you lose most of your body heat through the head. It is actually only around 7%. Your body will lose a disproportionate amount of heat through ANY exposed surface, including hands and feet. Therefore, ALL winter gear is important and recommended.


Myth: Eating carrots will help you see better in the dark while stargazing at Negwegon Dark Sky Preserve.

Fact: carrots contain vitamin A (or retinol) which is required to synthesize rhodopsin, the pigment in your eyes that operates in low-light conditions. If you have a vitamin A deficiency, you will develop nyctalopia or night blindness. Eating carrots would correct this and improve your night vision, but only to the level of an ordinary healthy person.


Myth: Alpena has four seasons due to the Earth being closer to the sun in summer than in winter.

Fact: Earth is the same distance from the sun year-long. Alpena has four seasons because of the Earth’s 23.4 degree axial tilt.