Mackinac Island State Park
Often overshadowed by other visitor attractions, Mackinac Island’s natural history has attracted scientific observation for over 200 years. In the early 19th century, botanists discovered several species completely new to science, including the dwarf lake iris, still found predominantly in the Straits of Mackinac region.
Early scientists also marveled at the island’s distinctive geology, mostly brecciated limestone that has been sculpted by eons of wind and waves. The result is some dramatic rock formations, like the giant inland slab of limestone called Sugar Loaf Rock, the lakeside caves of Devil’s Kitchen, and impressive Arch Rock, which rises nearly 150 feet above the eastern shore and spans some 50 feet.
In recognition of the park’s distinctive “natural curiosities” and growing tourism, the U.S. government created Mackinac National Park in 1875—following Yellowstone as the nation’s second national park. Twenty years later, it was returned to Michigan and became Mackinac Island State Park, Michigan’s first state park.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel