Michigan back roads offer a wealth of scenery, from sandy beaches and rocky cliffs to lush green forests and pastoral farm settings. Lakeshore drives are great for savoring quaint port towns, lighthouses and legacy farms. Those ribbon highways along the state’s 2,232-mile mainland coastlines often lead to secluded areas where quiet repose is found.
The state’s unique geology also affords drama — along the world-caliber sand dunes on Lake Michigan and eons-old cliffs along Lake Superior.
The 47-mile Copper Country Trail National Byway between Houghton and Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula offers a variety of vistas. It winds through historic mining communities and thick-canopied forests, by old-growth preserves and a historic fort.
To the west, Brockway Mountain Drive provides panoramic views of the rugged landscape and Lake Superior. Motorists who succumb to the lure drive to 720 feet over the lake — and unparalleled scenery. To the east, Tahquamenon State Scenic Byway, a 62-mile route that skirts Tahquamenon Falls, meanders by historic and scenic destinations like Whitefish Point Light, the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior.
Michigan’s Lower Peninsula offers as much if not more, from the famous M-19 Tunnel of Trees north of Harbor Springs; to Fishtown, the historic fishing port at Leland; to picturesque Lake Huron ports like Presque Isle and Tawas City.
The 22-mile River Road Scenic Byway, which parallels the Au Sable River from Oscoda westward, is a journey full of nature and a trip through Michigan’s vital logging history.
Those who enjoy viewing from behind the wheel have 20 dedicated Pure Michigan Byway driving routes to choose from, but don’t let convention keep you from exploring further and on your own. More about each can be found online at Michigan.gov/mdot.
In this issue of BLUE, we bring you a look at some of those backroad favorites.
Enjoy the ride.
Award-winning writer and BLUE Managing Editor Howard Meyerson lives in Grand Rapids.