New Marks for Michigan National Parks

Chapel Rock Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks – Chapel Beach, photo by Todd

Crain’s Detroit Business reported that two of Michigan’s national parks saw record numbers of visitors in 2015:

The National Parks Service says Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula and River Raisin Battlefield Park in southeastern Michigan set visitation records in 2015. The two parks, along with Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan’s northeastern coast, had more visitors through November 2015 than in 2014 and saw double-digit increases in visitors.

…The increased popularity of national parks in Michigan mirrors a nationwide trend: Overall visits to national parks are expected to reach 300 million in 2015. Last year’s figure was a record 293 million.

The park system turns 100 next year, and the Obama administration and Republican lawmakers have different ideas about what to do. Both parties agree the country’s national parks and historic sites could use some sprucing up but the question is how much of a dent Congress will make in a system-wide maintenance backlog with an estimated $11.5 billion price tag. President Barack Obama has recommended spending an additional $1.5 billion on the parks over a three-year period. Republican leaders in Congress have a smaller birthday present in mind.

Here’s hoping that our elected officials can come together to keep our National Park system strong!

Todd took this shot at Chapel Beach in September of 2012. View it bigger and see more in his Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore slideshow.

Lots more on Michigan’s state & national parks on Michigan in Pictures!

Autumn’s Chapel

Chapel Rock in Fall

chapel rock, photo by Paul Wojtkowski

Here’s a cool picture from way back in 2006 of what I think is definitely one of the 7 wonders of Michigan: Chapel Rock in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

The Lucky Tree of Chapel Rock features quite a number of photos that I think can give you a pretty good understanding of this marvelous Michigan miracle.

Chapel Rock on Lake Superior has a single tree perched atop its column. By rights the tree should not be there: the small surface area of land on the top of the rock is insufficient to sustain a tree of this size.

There is hardly any topsoil, certainly not enough for an obviously thriving tree. How then does it flourish?

Look a little closer and you will see the answer – that rope on the right of the picture is not, in fact a rope. It is a system of roots, extending and stretching over the edge of the rock to the main bluff where there are nutrients and water aplenty.

Yet how on earth did the root extend over to the mainland? Did it slither in some triffid like way until it reached the other side? Is there a Little Shop of Horrors thing happening here?

Click through for the answer and some pics that make things clearer – including to my surprise one of my own! – from Kuriositas which looks like a pretty cool site.

View Paul’s photo bigger and see this and more in his slideshow.

More Pictured Rocks on Michigan in Pictures? You bet!

Mr. Shutdown comes to Michigan

North Bar Overlook by Ken Scott
North Bar Lake … overlook by Ken Scott

A taste of the Shutdown’s impact on Michigan via Leelanau.com…

The TC Ticker reports that the federal government shutdown that began at midnight has closed portions of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore:

A park representative said gates will be closed on the park’s campgrounds, bathrooms and popular Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive until the shutdown ends, though visitors may still access the park’s hiking trails and lakeshore(our emphasis)

Sleeping Bear Dunes is one of five national parks in Michigan affected by the shutdown, a move that comes at an unfortunate time for tourism-dependent parks nearing the end of their operating seasons. The Leelanau County attraction, which will operate with a skeleton crew of emergency-only personnel until the shutdown has ceased, normally averages 2,300 visitors a day during the fall season, according to park reports.

The Freep reports that a similar scenario will unfold at other Michigan National Parks with Isle Royale & River Raisin Battlefield Park closing early for the season. Let me stress that you can still enjoy the majority of our parks and trails. In other Michigan-specific news, about 900 Michigan National Guard members are bracing for a furlough notice and training for another 12,000 will be put on hold. More details on the shutdown’s impact on Michigan at mLive.

Check Ken’s photo – taken at a location that will be inaccessible – out bigger and see more in his massive Panoramas slideshow.

Sunset & Sequestration

"Lake Michigan Overlook" Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

“Lake Michigan Overlook” Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, photo by Michigan Nut

The other day on Leelanau.com I posted Sequestration and the Sleeping Bear Dunes detailing cuts that will be made at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to meet their 5% budget requirement. The Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreIsle Royale and the Keweenaw National Historical Park will all be forced to trim budgets as well. Due to the fact that the NPS fiscal year ends in September, the cuts end up being closer to 10% than 5%.

All of the officials quoted stress that the parks remain open and (mostly) accessible, but when Michigan is spending millions of dollars promoting Pure Michigan nationwide with these parks at the center of our offerings, there’s no question that this is bad news for tourism!

John took this photo about a year ago – view it bigger and see more in his Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore slideshow. He is a frequent guest on Michigan in Pictures – view more of his posts right here.