Does Nordhouse Dunes have Michigan’s Best Sunrise?

Nordhouse Dunes Sunrise, photo by Shane Blood Photography

That’s the question the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area Facebook page asked Michigan in Pictures on Facebook. It’s a good question. Click over and let them know what you think!

The Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area:

…is a Federally designated wilderness in Michigan’s lower peninsula and encompasses 3,450 acres of National Forest. Nordhouse Dunes is part of the Ludington Dune Ecosystem, which also includes Lake Michigan Recreation Area, and Ludington State Park. The dunes were formed 3,500 to 4,000 years ago and stand up to 140 feet high. Ludington Dune Ecosystem has the largest area of fresh water interdunal ponds in the world. The interdunal ponds, small water holes and marshes, decorate the area. Dune grass covers many of the dunes and provides habitat for a variety of wildlife species.

The Nordhouse Dunes are interspersed with woody vegetation such as juniper, jack pine and hemlock. Plant life is varied and includes the Federally Endangered Pitcher’s Thistle. The sand beach along the lake varies from narrow to wide and is home to the Federally Endangered Piping Plover, a shore bird that nests on the ground in small cobbles.

The wilderness area is popular for hiking, camping, hunting, nature study and wildlife viewing. There are approximately 10-miles of trail that can be accessed from 2 developed trailheads at the end of Nurnberg Road and Lake Michigan Recreation Area.

View the photo bigger and head over to Shane Blood Photography on Facebook for more shots from Nordhouse Dunes.

More Michigan sunrises on Michigan in Pictures!

Lilacs are still out on Mackinac Island!

Mackinac Island, photo by Gary Ennis

While lilacs have faded in much of Michigan, they’re still going strong on Mackinac Island as we head into the final weekend of the annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival. The Northern Express’s writeup on the Lilac Festival says in part:

There are over 100 varieties of lilac on the island, the most recognizable being the common lilac or the French lilac, which ranges in color from white and pink to blue and several shades of purple. Many of the island’s lilacs were planted in the Victorian age, and some have lived for over 150 years, thanks to the island’s nurturing microclimate.

“Mackinac Island has some of the largest specimens of the common lilac in the country,” said Tim Hygh, executive director of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. “Also found here, but more rare, are the Himalayan lilac, which are lavender, and the Japanese tree lilac, which are typically white.”

View the photo from the walkway at Fort Mackinac bigger and follow Gary on Facebook for more!

More lilacs and more Mackinac Island on Michigan in Pictures!

Root Beer Thunder

Upper Tahquamenon Falls, photo by Erin Bartels

The Tahquamenon Falls State Park page says that the Upper Tahquamenon Falls are one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. At more than 200 feet across with a drop of nearly 50 feet, the falls have a flow rate that can exceed 50,000 gallons per second!

View the photo background bigtacular, see more in Erin’s slideshow and check out Tahquamenon Falls: Take 4 on her blog for some details about her latest visit.

Fox Kit Friday

Fox Kit, photo by David Marvin

Spring is also baby animal season in Michigan, so here’s a little about baby foxes and what to do if you encounter one from Friends of Wildlife in Ann Arbor:

There are two species of fox in Michigan, the Red and the Gray. The Red prefer meadow areas and the Gray favor woods.

As with most wildlife, the kits are born in early spring. The vixen (female fox) chooses a hollow log, an empty woodchuck hole or a roadside culvert for the nursery. This nest site provides her young protection from predators, especially coyotes. The male fox helps with the rearing by bringing the vixen food while she nurses their young and keeps the kits warm. Then later in the kits development both parents teach them how to forage for food.

The foxes diet consists mainly of small rodents, moles and bugs. The benefits that foxes afford farmland, orchards and the general public is their consumption of these invasive pests. It is an absolute miss conception that fox eat cats, dogs or small children.They are very curious creatures but avoid contact with domestic animals and humans.

When fox kits are first born, their eyes and ears are closed, they remain secluded in their den with their mother. As they develop, at about one month, they start venturing out to play, attacking twigs, leaves and their siblings, but never far from the protection of the den.

If you do find an infant fox, please contact them for further instructions and see their website for information about other species!

View the photo background bigtacular and see more including some shots of these kiddos walking around in David’s slideshow.

PS: David has a video too. He writes: “Please note that the video was taken from quiet a distance away with a high power lens so as to avoid as much human contact with the kits.”

A Blaze of Green at Pictured Rocks

Untitled, photo by Steve Nowakowski

It’s hard to convey the unique beauty of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in a single photo, but the stunning green of this picture really triggered memories for me of some of my best and brightest days in one of Michigan’s crown jewels.

Steve took this on a boat tour in August of 2016 with nearly perfect conditions, likely with Pictured Rocks Cruises. View the photo background big and see more in his 2016 Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore slideshow.

There’s a whole lot more goodness from the Pictured Rocks on Michigan in Pictures.

Breaking Fall at Gerlach Point

Breaking Fall – Gerlach Point, photo by Aaron C. Jors

Gerlach Point is located east of Miner’s Beach in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

View Aaron’s photo from fall of 2015 bigger, see more in his Michigan slideshow, and view & purchase more photos at Aaron C. Joors Photography.

Lots more from Pictured Rocks on Michigan in Pictures!

March 3, 1875: Mackinac National Park & Fort Mackinac

old-fort-mackinac-from-pasture-field-macinac-sic-island-mich

Old Fort [Mackinac] from pasture field, Macinac [sic] Island, Mich., courtesy Library of Congress

“Mackinac is a place largely visited by people from all parts of our country, and I take it from many foreign lands. A National Park is established on the island and I think the military post should be made not only comfortable but attractive.”
-Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs

It’s a birthday of sorts for Mackinac State Historic Parks which is a treasure trove of our colonial history. The page from Mackinac Parks on Fort Mackinac and the Mackinac National Park explains the birth of the park and how one forward thinking officer may very well have created the model for historical preservation in the park that holds so much of Michigan and the nation’s cultural history:

After Congress created Yellowstone in 1872, Senator Thomas Ferry introduced legislation to create a second park on Mackinac Island. In addition to the island’s attractive history and natural features, the U.S. government already owned much of the island as part of the Fort Mackinac military reservation and the soldiers stationed at Fort Mackinac could act as caretakers. As a result, the park would cost almost nothing, which Ferry knew appealed to the tight-fisted Congressmen of the 1870s. After two years of campaigning, President Ulysses Grant created the Mackinac National Park, the second park in the country, on March 3, 1875.

The park made Mackinac Island even more attractive to Midwestern visitors, and brought changes to Fort Mackinac, where the commanding officer became the park superintendent and a second company of soldiers joined the garrison. The Army finally performed some long-overdue repairs at the fort … Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs believed that “the fort itself is to the public one of the greatest curiosities within the lands of the park,” and required the fort’s commanding officer, Major Alfred Hough, to repair the post’s aging blockhouses. Although the blockhouses served no military purpose, Meigs knew that they were “among the few relics of the older time which exist in this country,” and believed that “there would be a cry from tourists” if they were destroyed. Fort Mackinac thus became as much a part of the national park as the island’s natural curiosities.

…On September 16, 1895, the last soldiers formally transferred Fort Mackinac and the Mackinac National Park to the state. Although the national park ceased to exist with this transfer, the state immediately created the Mackinac Island State Park, which continues to welcome thousands of Mackinac Island visitors every year.

You can view the photo taken somewhere between between 1880 and 1899 bigger and see more great old Mackinac Island photos in this Mackinac Island slideshow from the Library of Congress.

Lots more from Mackinac on Michigan in Pictures!