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Michigan Photo Locations

This page contains recommendations for great shooting locations in Michigan. Locations may include a brief description of the area, recommended places to visit, times of year to go, lodging, etc. and may include a small image, a map or a web link to the location (i.e. state park).

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Canyon FallsCanyon Falls

Canyon Falls are in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, in the town of Alberta, about 65 miles west of Marquette, Michigan and just south of L'Anse, Michigan, on U.S. 41. The entrance to the falls is in a roadside park. This park is about 5 miles north from where U.S. 41 turns 90 degrees from west to north, about 2 miles south of Alberta. There is a well-maintained "new" trail to the falls. The "old" trail is probably worth following and probably provides a better vantage point for photography.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)




Fayette State ParkFayette SP

Fayette State Park is located in the Lake Superior State Forest, on the Michigan Upper Peninsula's "Garden Peninsula," jutting South into Lake Michigan. This historic company town site and now, State Park was built in 1867 to manufacture "pig iron" from Northern Michigan's plentiful iron ore supply. A harbor ("Snail Shell Harbor) with a marina made this a natural location to ship the ore out. The Park has a visitor center and 20 historic buildings, including the blast furnace used to manufacture the iron. I would not have thought of this as a "nature photography" location, but my October, 2007 trip there proved otherwise. There are some very nice views of sandstone cliffs along Lake Michigan. There is an upper trail, which overlooks the town and Lake Michigan from high above, and a lower trail which winds through the town. It certainly makes a good "Man and Nature" subject. This is a good destination for the later end of the fall color season, as the deciduous trees are mainly birch, which seem to turn a little later than some of the others. Getting to Fayette State Park. Reach this destination by taking Michigan Highway 183 South from U.S. 2 at Garden Corners, 100 miles West of the Mackinac Bridge, or 40 miles East of Escanaba, Michigan, on U.S. 2. Take this scenic drive South with views of Lake Michigan and Northern Michigan farmlands, through the summer resort town of Garden, and on to the end of the road, about 22 miles from U.S. 2, to the Park Entrance.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)

Laughing White Fish FallsLaughing Whitefish Falls

Located about 30 miles west of Munising, Michigan, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Take Michigan highway 94 southwest out of Munising to the town of Sundell, Michigan. Just west of Sundell, take North Sundell Road (there are brown signs announcing the Laughing Whitefish site), about 2 miles north. Sundell Road turns from a paved county road, to gravel. Follow the signs to the entrance and parking area. There is a well-maintained gravel trail to the falls. The walk it about 1 mile. There are stairs and an observation area. Don't confuse this with Whitefish Falls.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)




Memorial FallsTannery Falls

Known as "Tannery Falls" since the 1890's, after a leather tannery, these falls are now on land acquired by the Michigan Nature Association some time in the late 1980's. The falls were recently re-named to "Memorial Falls" in honor and memory of Rudy M. Olson. The Rudy M. Olson Twin Falls Plant Preserve, near Munising, Michigan, houses both Memorial Falls and Twin Falls. You can view Memorial Falls from the top with a short walk. But to get to the bottom and around the falls for the best photo ops, both require a bit of a hike with some uphill and occasionally wet area walking required. Both have streams of water over the natural and colorful sandstone formations near the Great Lakes lakeshores.

Getting to Memorial Falls. From Munising, Michigan, from the intersection of M-28 and County Road H-58 (East Munising Avenue), turn right (East) and follow East Munising Avenue for about 1 1/4 miles to Washington Street, which turns off to the northeast. The staircase to the path to the falls is across H-58, but parking isn't very good, except along the road. We found a spot to park in Washington Street and crossed H-58 there. The trails are marked (though not completely clearly) to the two different falls.

The MNA publishes its Nature Sanctuary Guidebook, for a reasonable price, which can be obtained on line. The book gives details and directions. MNA owns at least 100 Nature Preserves throughout the state of Michigan.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)

Miner's Castle - Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreMiner's Castle

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore stretches for a good part of the Southern Shore of Lake Superior on the Eastern half of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Perhaps the best stretch is between Munising, Michigan and Grand Marais, Michigan.  Much of it is only accessible by foot or boat.  There are some notable and easily accessible though.  Miner's Castle is one, and is worth the trip.

Getting to Miner's Castle. In Munising, Michigan, from the intersection of M-28 and County Road H-58 (East Munising Avenue), turn right (East) and follow East Munising Avenue 5 miles to Miner's Castle Road (this road is not plowed in the winter, so the only "snow" access is either by snowmobile--or perhaps for the more ambitious, snowshoe or skis).  Follow Miner's Castle Road (mostly) North 5 miles to the entrance to.  It ends in a large paved parking lot.  The rock formation (which illustrates its namesake) is a primary tourist attraction and there is a well-maintained series of boardwalks and steps, including a scenic overlook of Lake Superior and Miner's Castle, and stairs down to the formation.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)

Munising Falls Munsing Falls

These falls are easily reached just on the outskirts of Munising, Michigan, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. To get to the falls from Munising, from the intersection of M-28 and County Road H-58 (East Munising Avenue), turn right (east) and follow East Munising Avenue. Just after you turn onto East Munising Avenue, just over a mile, Washington Street veers off to the left (North). About 1/2 mile up Washington Street, across from Munising Memorial Hospital, is the parking lot for Munising Falls. There is a short boardwalk to the observation stairs which have two views of the falls (when I was there in 1997, there was only the front on view). You can now walk up and around to the top level of the falls and view it from the east.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)



Porcupine Mountain State ParkPorcupine SP

Said to be Michigan's largest undeveloped wilderness area, Porcupine Mountain State Park is located in the Northwestern portion of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, near Ontonagon, Michigan. There are numerous trails through the Park. Camping is allowed by permit and there are a small number of rustic shelters. Bear cans (for food) are strongly recommended. There are numerous rivers and waterfalls which make their way through the park on the way to Lake Superior. The most notable, perhaps is the Carp River, which forms, at a wide spot, the "Lake of The Clouds," which is perhaps the most photographed image in the park. The road to the Park Entrance is in Silver City, just West of Ontonagon, and proceeds steeply uphill to the Park Entrance. A short walk from the parking area, up a fairly steep embankment, you reach "The Escarpment." The view is pretty spectacular, particularly to us "flatlanders" in Michigan. It is probably the closest thing to a true "mountain" we have.

Getting to the Park. Approximately 300 miles from the Mackinac Bridge (and almost 200 miles from Duluth, MN to the west), Ontonagon, Michigan is about 47 miles north on U.S. 43 from U.S. 2. Silver City is 13 miles west of Ontonagon. The park entrance is another 10 miles west from Silver City. The road ends in the park's parking lot.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)

Rapid River Falls Rapid River Falls

Another Michigan Upper Peninsula waterfall, Rapid River Falls are in a small park near the village of Rapid River. From U.S. 2 in Rapid River, take U.S. 41 north about 6.5 miles to S-15. Turn left on S-15 and the park is less than a mile, almost immediately visible. There is ample parking.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)






Scott Falls Scott Falls

Another waterfall in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, just west of Munising, Michigan, on M-28, almost to Au Train, Michigan, is the very small, but beautiful Scott Falls. It is literally just "steps" away from M-28. However, it is very easy to miss. I drove right by it. There is a Scott Falls roadside picnic area almost directly across M-28 from the falls. When you see the picnic area, look for a spot to park and then look across the road.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)

Tahquamenon Falls State ParkTahquamenon SP

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is located 13 miles west of Paradise, Michigan, on M-123.  Just north of town, turn left on 123 and follow it for about 13 miles to the Upper Falls entrance to Tahquamenon Falls State Park (you will pass the Lower Falls and Campground Entrance about 10 miles out, but in my opinion, it is one to come back to after you see the "main attraction."). Tahquamenon Falls is spectacular. The only more powerful waterfall I have seen in the United States is Niagara Falls.

In the ample, paved parking lot, there is a nice restaurant/brew pub which serves buffalo burgers, among other things. There is also the obligatory gift shop (and, of course, T-shirts!). The falls are a short walk to the west of the parking lot on wide, paved walkways. It is a pretty popular destination during tourist season, including fall color.  But we arrived just before sunrise.

There is both an upper trail which leads to the brink of the falls, after a relatively strenuous climb down a long stairway (there is an observation platform just to the right of the photo which gives you a birds-eye view of the falls.  There is also a lower trail along the river which gives a longer and lower perspective view.  And, there is a dirt hiking trail between the upper and lower falls which follows the river.

The lower falls have their own entrance, back toward Paradise. Except in the winter, you can drive back almost to the river. The lower falls actually split around an "island" in the middle of the river, so there are several views to be photographed. There are rowboats and canoes that can be rented to paddle out to the island for further exploration. There are also some nice upriver and downriver views.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)

Turtle Island Nature PreserveTurtle Island NP

This private Nature Preserve is open the public. Parking is limited and for the most part, travel in the Preserve is on foot.  It has some nice wetland views and upland type trails. A Google search did not turn up much on the small Preserve. It is on the road between Paradise, Michigan and Tahquamenon Falls State Park, on Michigan 123.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)


Whitefish FallsWhitefish Falls

Another Michigan Upper Peninsula waterfall on the Whitefish River, Whitefish Falls is about 30 miles southwest of Munising and about the same distance north of Escanaba, Michigan, near the town of Trenary. From the intersection of M-67 and U.S. 41, drive northwest on U.S. 41 for about three miles. Watch for Diffen Road on your left. Less than a mile past Diffen Road, an unmarked gravel road loops into the woods towards the southwest, and eventually, back onto U.S. 41. Drive back on that loop road until you reach the point at which the road begins to curve back to U.S. 41. Look for a trail on the south side of the road. Note that parking is limited. Follow the trail south to the river.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)



Wilderness State ParkWilderness SP

Wilderness State Park, in northern lower Michigan, near Mackinaw City, is one of my very favorite places to photograph spring wildflowers. Usually in mid to late May, the White Trilliums are in bloom everywhere along the north and west Coast of the peninsula, along Lake Michigan. It is also possible to find Pink and Yellow Lady's Slippers, Dwarf Lake Iris, Columbine, and Indian Paintbrush. There is a nearby Private Nature Preserve, on the road to the Park, which also provides good habitat for Trillium and Yellow Lady's slippers. I have never gone there without finding some beautiful wildflower images. Getting to the Park. From Mackinaw City, Michigan, at the foot of the south end of the Mackinac Bridge, follow Straits Avenue West just under a mile to Central Avenue. Turn right and continue west on Central Avenue about 1.3 miles to Wilderness Park Drive. Taking Wilderness Park Drive north takes you into the main entrance to the Park. There is a road through the park with several walking/hiking trails. If you turn south on Wilderness Park Drive and take it to Trailsend Road and turn west, you go to the shore of Lake Michigan. There is a small parking area there, and an entrance to a trail that goes into the park from the south. I've found Pink Lady's Slippers there, as well as Trillium.

(Submitted by Andy Richards)