Michigan Lighthouse, Lakes and Dow Gardens

April 01, 2020  •  2 Comments

I typically visit my parents in Michigan three times a year: April/May, August and Christmas. This past August when I drove my kids up for a two week visit I only brought my 35mm film camera and a 50mm lens to use. I love the feeling of limited use with film and being selective with what I shoot. It makes the pictures all that more special. It also makes me slow down and wait for the moment and be grounded in what is happening around me. 

When I visit it's nice to relax at my parents' house but I also like to plan one trip somewhere new or that we haven't been to in awhile. This past August we visited some lighthouses along the Lake Huron coast. Michigan's outdoor beauty in the summer is amazing and I am happy to share my small trip with you!



These first lake pictures were taken at my parents' lake at their home in Northern Michigan. It's great for fishing, not so great for swimming. My siblings did take my kids out to the middle of the lake to swim and since my kids aren't scaredy-cats like me they absolutely loved it. In Michigan you are never more than a few minutes away from a lake or river and you are never more than 85 miles from a Great Lake! Not all lakes and rivers are created equally in Michigan, some are clear, some are muddy, some are sandy, but the best part is that typically there are no snakes like in North Carolina! 



Michigan once had over 250 lighthouses on its Great Lake shores but now there are around a 100 that are still in decent condition. Some are privately owned and some are public museums. This first lighthouse is the Old Presque Isle lighthouse (pronounced PRESK Isle although the county is pronounced PRESK EEL even though it is spelled the same). Presque Isle comes from the French word for Peninsula. Because of the historic French and Indian influences on the area many of our place names have French or Indian roots.

It has limited visitor's hours and has a little gift shop and museum area that tells about the previous lighthouse keepers and what their life was like. Like most of the lighthouse museums if you are allowed to climb the tower there is a small fee that goes towards the upkeep of the museum. 

This light and the one just up the dirt road are both located on the small Preque Isle peninsula just north of Alpena that juts out into Lake Huron in Northeast Michigan. Built in 1840 the Old Presque Isle light is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses on the Great Lakes. To read more facts and find the location and visitor's info about this light click here and here.  



Just a mile up the road is the New Presque Isle lighthouse. Just like its name it is a newer light meant to replace the Old Presque Isle location. Obviously the naming board weren't being too creative! The new light was built in 1870 and is much taller than the older light. It is also much taller with over 130 steps to the stop which makes it the tallest lighthouse available for the public on the Great Lakes. You can click here and here to read more about the New Presque Isle light. 

When I was visiting we made a trip with my parents but missed the times for all the lights to be open so when my brother and sister in law arrived we made a second trip to be sure to be able to go inside all of them. Our first visit to Presque Isle gave us extremely rough water and heavy winds. Typically you don't see large whitecaps on the Great Lakes without a storm but that day we did. Because of the waves parts of a shipwreck were noticeable along the shore. On our subsequent visit everything was much calmer. 

Just like the variety of lakes and rivers the Great Lakes coastline can vary immensely as well. At this location instead of a sandy beach it was smooth white rocks worn down by the waves. Just like at Old Presque Isle this location also had a gift shop and a small museum. 



Following US 23 north up the Lake Huron coast brings you to Rogers City which is home to the world's largest limestone quarry. Because the limestone cleans the water the surrounding area has amazing crystal blue green water. The Forty Mile Point Lighthouse is about 10 miles north of Rogers City and the drive along the coast is just perfect as most of it gives you a great view of the water. 

The Forty Mile Point light gets its name from the fact that it is 40 miles (sailing) from Mackinaw Point. The light is still in use today and the building that houses the tower is split in half with the current caretaker occupying half of the building. The housing area was built for two keeper's families in mind and had 2 mirrored living spaces. Currently the half that is open to the public is set up as a museum with historical pieces similar to what it would have looked like in 1897 when it was first operational. 

In 1905 the steamer Joseph S Fay wrecked not far off the beach and part of the side can be seen on the shore. You can click here to read more about the Fay. 

The 40 Mile Point light area has a gift shop and other outbuildings that you can visit. It also has some walking trails to a beach area where the shipwreck can be viewed. To learn more about the 40 Mile Point Light you can click here and here



Along the coast on US 23 in between the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse and Rogers City is a cute little roadside beach with parking and outhouses. I had to stop because the water there was just beautiful!



Changing gears completely on our last day in Michigan we decided to visit Dow Gardens in Midland and their newly opened tree canopy walk in Whiting Forest. This is such a unique area with the longest tree walk in the U.S. It definitely felt like you were walking in a very large tree house. In addition to the walkway they had fun areas for kids like rope climbing and this unique wood flower. Not far from the canopy walk is a playground with a focus on water play which my kids loved.

We didn't have a lot of time left but we did manage to make it to the Children's Garden portion of Dow Gardens which was really enjoyable and of course beautiful. It was very interactive with vegetables you could pick and take home and also other activities like watering and fountains. 



I hope you enjoyed this little taste of what Michigan has to offer. If anyone is looking for a photographer for a Michigan wedding or especially a lighthouse wedding I am always willing to travel!


Teresa Ray(non-registered)
A real pleasure, beautiful scenery and adorable subjects, not to mention the amazing talent.
Dawn Peters(non-registered)
Your pictures are stunning! Feels like I'm looking at a "Plan Your Next Vacation" magazine!! The quality is gorgeous!
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