A State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Passport is required to enter the parks. Just $11 when purchased with in-state license plate renewals. Find out more HERE.

Thompson’s Harbor State Park

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 trail-head off of US-23.

Sand dunes

Sand dunes are a hidden treasure at Thompson’s Harbor. Photo Courtesy Gary Irving.

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.

Rockport pier

Rockport offers pristine views, multiple beaches, fossil hunting, trails, a bat hibernaculum, a shipwreck, a ghost village, and deep water fishing port.

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, back country camping available.

Boy and dog at a beach

Logan Bouchard runs with his dog Luke at Negwegon State Park’s sandy beach, courtesy Alisha Bouchard.

Exploring the night sky: Dark Sky Parks

As of February 16, 2016, Negwegon State Park, Rockport State Recreation Area, and Thompson’s Harbor State Park have been officially named Dark Sky Preserves. These parks are now protected from artificial light pollution and provide amazing night sky photography and stargazing.

Download the Dark Sky Adventure Guide to start your journey.