No trip to Alpena is complete until you’ve checked off all three of our Michigan state parks!

While all 3 state parks are designated dark sky preserves, each one offers its own unique experiences for hiking, biking, stargazing, and swimming in Lake Huron. In no particular order:

Rockport State Recreation Area 

Rockport State Recreation Area, Michigan’s 100th State Park, has over 4,237 acres of land located on the shores of Lake Huron north of Alpena. The property includes a deep-water protected harbor, an old limestone quarry of approximately 300 acres, a unique series of sinkholes, the Besser Natural Area, and a broad range of land types, vegetative cover, cultural resources, and recreation opportunities. At the harbor, the DNR has a boat launch facility, and there is a small park with picnic areas. Print out this handy Rockport State Recreation Area Adventure Guide to start your exploration of Michigan’s 100th State Park.

Negwegon State Park

Mysterious, remote, and undeveloped. Negwegon State Park is a hidden treasure with 10 miles of hiking trails and one of the most beautiful beaches on Lake Huron. Negwegon is located on US-23, 12 miles north of Harrisville. Drivers should be wary of the entry route to the park. Part of it is a sandy two-track road. To get to the park, take Black River road off of US 23 to the east 1.5 miles, turn north on Sand Hill Rd. and go 2.5 miles, turn right or east at the Negwegon State Park sign and go 1.5 miles to the day-use parking area. No services, backcountry camping available.

Thompson’s Harbor State Park

Thompson’s Harbor State Park. Photo by Abbey Jo Rehling

Located 24 miles north of Alpena on US 23 North, this natural area encompasses 5,000 acres of sand dunes, upland, and marsh. In Michigan, there are fewer than 50 remaining examples of “forested wet swale communities” of this quality. The area supports one of the largest known populations in the world of the federal and state-threatened dwarf lake iris, Michigan’s state wildflower. Thousands of iris shoots and several other plant species of special concern grow in the area. Situated along seven and a half miles of Lake Huron shoreline, this undeveloped park provides a rustic retreat for hikers exploring the park’s six miles of trails. Park at the trailhead off of US-23.

A State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Passport is required to enter the parks. Just $12 when purchased with in-state license plate renewals. Find out more HERE

(Cover photo of the aerial view of Rockport State Recreation Area by Brandon Patterson)