Learn the history of Mackinac Island in Michigan & where to stay or camp

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Mackinac Island


Mackinac Island became Michigan’s first state park in 1895.  Over 80% of the island is in the state park and most of it remains in its natural condition and undeveloped.

Mackinac Island’s magnificent arches, sea caves and stacks are composed of limestone which was broken and recemented millions of years ago.  Wave action of the ancient Great Lakes washed away the softer rock exposing these unique formations.

Arch Rock is the most famous and has attracted sightseers for a century and a half.  The arch rises 146 feet above the water and is 50 feet at its widest point. It is one of the natural wonders of the Midwest.

Sugar Loaf is a breccia mass rising 75 feet above the ground and is the island’s largest limestone stack.  Other geological features include Devil’s Kitchen, Crack-in-the-Island, Skull Cave and Cave of the Woods.

Cars were banned from Mackinac Island in 1898.  The absence of cars gives the island a unique, charming and historic ambiance.  Visitor transportation is walking, horseback riding, horse-drawn carriage or bicycles.  Travel to and from the island is by ferry.


Two major forest types cover much of the island.  A fragrant, coniferous forest grows around the edge of the island with some of the most beautiful wild flowers growing there.  A mixed hardwood forest grows in the island’s interior and contains a wide variety of plants and animals. Over 25 species of fish, including the lake trout, lake whitefish, and yellow perch are in the clear waters of the Straits of Mackinac.

At the Treetop Discovery Tower and Climbing Wall, you can see the different layers of the forest canopy.  Experience life in the upper branches of the forest by crossing the Forest Canopy Bridge. The Eagle’s Flight Zip Line will have your gliding over the Mill Pond.  Hike or bike over 70 miles of trails and roads of the State Park.

Mackinac Island is a perfect place for sightseeing;  Stunning vistas, natural wonders, and architectural; treasures can be enjoyed there.

The Forest Clearing is an area set aside for natural history programs in a forest settng.  Park naturalists run programs here focusing on native plant and animals.

Downtown Mackinac

Explore Downtown Mackinac.  From 1782-1835 Mackinac Island was thee principal depot and supply center for the upper Great Lakes fur trade.  Pelts were gathered at Mackinac and then shipped to the Eastern United States and European markets and great wealth was produced.  

Historic Downtown Mackinac includes :

  • American Fur Company Store
  • Dr. Beaumont Museum
  • Benjamin Blacksmith Museum
  • Biddle House featuring the Mackinac island Native American Museum
  • Mission Church

Other Top Attractions

The McGulpin House dates from 1780 and is possibly the oldest private residence in Michigan.  This structure is a rare example of early French Canadian architecture.

The Richard & Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum features Native American art, fine and decorative arts, photography and an annual show of the work off current artists.

Fort Mackinac is the oldest building in Michigan.  All 14 buildings in the Fort are restored and open to the public .  The North Blockhouse Exhibit plunges visitors in an immersive, multimedia presentation that lets you go back in time to the War of 1812.  Experience the fear, confusion and drama of the British capture of Fort Mackinac on July 17, 1812. The movie “Heritage of Mackinac” is featured in the Post Commissary and provides an overview of the history of Mackinac.

Visitors to Mackinac can enjoy sailing, kayaking and fishing.  Go hiking, biking, horseback riding or play golf.


If you’d like to visit Mackinac Island, Green Vacation Deals recommends the following hotels that have received great customer reviews.


For those who are into camping, we recommend Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping and Lakeshore RV Park Campground.  If you want to rent an RV, check with RVshare. If you’re interested in buying a tent, click here to see how you can save money.

Further Reading

And if you’d like to read more about Mackinac Island, try these books.  Click on the links to see how you can save money.