Let's Visit Lake Michigan

The majority of the largest freshwater bodies of water are in North America. Three of the top four are part of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes formed centuries ago during the last Ice Age. Lake Michigan is the one of these. The area was home to the Hopewell Indians during their most prevalent era.

French explorer Samuel de Champlain mapped out the region in the early 17th century; referring to this massive body of water as Grand Lac. Let's take a little trip around the only one of the five Great Lakes that is entirely within the territorial boundaries of the United States.

A Little History about a Big Lake

Lake Michigan is the second largest of the Great Lakes in reference to the volume of water. Since it's the third largest of the five by size, which means it has some fairly deep areas. Lake Superior still holds the honor of deepest and biggest of the five.

However, Lake Michigan is nearly 300 miles from top to bottom and averages 75 miles in width. Lake Michigan covers over 22,000 square miles with a deepest point of nearly 1,000 feet.

Not only is Lake Michigan the third largest Great Lake, it is the sixth largest freshwater lake in the world. Interestingly, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are actually attached by the Straits of Mackinac.

This makes these two massive lakes in reality one. Lake Michigan also has more than 1,600 miles of shoreline. Along this shoreline are over 275,000 acres of sand dunes. Lake Michigan has the largest natural freshwater dune system in the world.

The physical measurements of the lake are certainly behind the perception of how Lake Michigan got its name. Michi-gami is the Ojibwa word for great water. Lake Michigan is certainly a great body of water.

The depth and north/south geographical positioning of Lake Michigan creates one of its more alluring qualities. Powerful winds in the spring and fall churn the lake's waters. This stirs the sediment from the bottom and creates much of Lake Michigan's crystal blue appearance.

Along these miles of shoreline live more than 12 million people. Most of the Lake Michigan bordering populations are from Chicago and Milwaukee. However, more than half bordering communities rely on tourism.

A number of the residents in the rural areas around Lake Michigan are seasonal. There are tours that circle this massive body of freshwater, which are more than 1,200 total miles. With so many attractions, a trip around Lake Michigan can be quite the adventure.

Travel enthusiasts refer to the shores of Lake Michigan as America's Third Coast. There are hundreds of campgrounds and outdoor accommodations. The fishing and hunting prospects are some of the best in North America, especially in the more natural region across Michigan.

There are dozens of state parks and private campgrounds on the lake, plus many within the portion of the lake encompassing Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Let's take a look at a few of these Upper Peninsula accommodations, plus enjoyable activities in these Lake Michigan communities.

Staying the Night on Lake Michigan

Of course, there are hundreds of hotels and motels scattered in the urban communities around Lake Michigan. Most of these are within the more heavily populated Chicago and Milwaukee areas.

However, you can find a variety of overnight lodging options along the 1,600 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. As you navigate northbound along the Michigan shoreline of the lake, you will end up with a single point to cut across the Upper Peninsula.

You will eventually veer northeast away from the shoreline, hitting Michigan State Route 41 in the heart of the Upper Peninsula. Along the way across this spectacular stretch of national forest is Lake Michigamme.

Taking its name directly from the original Ojibwa language, Lake Michigamme is one of the larger interior lakes in the state. Lake Michigamme is covers nearly 5,000 acres. Most of the shoreline is surrounded by spectacular forests.

Across the northeastern-most point of the lake is its namesake campground. Michigamme Shores Campground Resort has 80 available camping sites, with over five dozen of those offering full hookups.

A short distance away is Van Riper State Park. Here you are permitted to overnight on the actual beach, with limited restrictions. If we continue to travel across the Upper Peninsula targeting the first route south into the mainland, you'll pass a series of national forests.

Interesting places to set up camp for the night can be found at Flowing Wells Campground, or within Hiawatha National Forest. You can always take a break from the wilderness at roadside lodging, but there are accommodations to meet any need in along the Lake Michigan shores.

Lake Michigan Shore Activities

Lake Michigan is an extremely popular tourist area. People come from all over the world to absorb the natural beauty of its shoreline. The area of Michigan's Upper Peninsula is one of the more attractive areas, especially for experiencing nature.

One popular way to see the shoreline of Lake Michigan is looking back at it from a boat. There are dozens of exciting boat tours leaving various locations around Lake Michigan. Many exit from Chicago and Milwaukee.

However, there are a number of departures porting out from spots across the northern region of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Two boat tours originate out of the Straits of Mackinac, and one launches from Beaver Island sitting in the middle of northern Lake Michigan.

If you have some seaworthy boating experience, you can even rent a boat. Be mindful, Lake Michigan is a vast body of water that can be prone to rough sailing. Most of the northern shoreline of Lake Michigan is devoid of development.

It is one of the most beautiful stretches of natural forest in the world. Hiking and extended day trips are a tourist favorite. One popular stop across the Upper Peninsula is the Seney National Wildlife Refuge.

Throughout the summer months, when much of the rural Lake Michigan shoreline comes alive, there are an endless schedule of festivals and events. There are exquisitely beautiful golf courses and thousands of miles of horseback riding trails.

You can go fishing, hunting, or just grab your camera to snap nature at her finest hour. There are so many activities across the Lake Michigan shore region; you'll probably want to come back more than once.

Lake Michigan is a top-rated tourist destination, with people coming from all around the world to experience its beauty. You can take a stroll along its shoreline or grab a ticket for an iconic steamboat ride. Chicago's Lake Michigan shoreline is full of modern amenities and nightlife.

However, the genuine beauty of Lake Michigan may be across the wide open wilderness engulfed in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Pack your tent, hiking boots, binoculars and fishing pole. But, don't forget your camera to capture what might be once in a lifetime moments.