Rare “Pure Award” for the Headlands Dark Sky Park

Milky Way, photo by Joseph Snowaert

I’ve been an astronomy nut since I was a little kid, and I’m always happy when the importance of the night sky gets the recognition it deserves. That’s certainly the case as the Headlands Dark Sky Park has won Michigan’s most exclusive tourism award. Absolute Michigan explains:

Emmet County’s International Dark Sky Park at the Headlands won the distinguished recognition of the state’s premier Pure Michigan campaign at the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism Tuesday when they won the Pure Award for 2017. The Pure Award, which has only been awarded twice in the 10 years of the Pure Michigan campaign, recognizes best practices in stewarding and preserving Michigan’s natural, cultural, and heritage-based resources.

“This award helps us further realize our goal of safeguarding the community’s natural and direct encounter with Northern Michigan’s unique and exceptional environment, both by day and by night,” said Headlands Program Director Mary Stewart Adams.

…The Headlands International Dark Sky Park is a 600-acre park on the Straits of Mackinac, two miles west of downtown Mackinaw City, at 15675 Headlands Road. The park is free and open to the public every day. While no camping is allowed, visitors are welcome to stay overnight to observe the dark sky overhead. The Headlands became the 6th International Dark Sky Park in the U.S. and the 9th in the world in May 2011, as designated by the International Dark Sky Association (www.darksky.org), and each month free programs are held for the public.

Read on for more.

Joseph took this photo back in May of 2014. View it background big and see more in his Writing Center slideshow.

Pure Michigan’s Lake Effect Gallery

Holland, Mi  Sailboat City by Cyndie M

Holland, MI – Sailboat City, photo by Cyndie M

Over the weekend, Pure Michigan rolled out a new hashtag on Instagram, Twitter and Vine. You can click those links to check out #PureMichiganLakeEffect on each of the services or head over to the Pure Michigan Lake Effect Gallery to see how to share yours and what kind of summer fun people are up to in the Great Lakes State!

View Cyndie’s photo background big and see more in her slideshow.

#TBT – Ice Caves of 2015

Icicles on cave - Grand Island Ice Curtains on Lake Superior - Munising, Michigan

Icicles on cave – Grand Island Ice Curtains, photo by Craig

As the mercury climbs and some crazy people (such as yours truly) start grumbling about the high temps, it’s probably a good time to take a look back at last winter’s spectacular ice caves.

Aubrieta Hope shared the story of her trip with Craig and two other photographers (Neil Weaver & John McCormick) to check out the Grand Island ice curtains. All four are Michigan in Pictures regulars – click to check out In Search of Superior Crystal on the Pure Michigan Blog. It has a bunch of photos and begins:

In the heart of winter, when the drifts are as high as houses and snow-dusted pines line the roads, photographers travel to the Upper Peninsula in search of crystal. Not antique-store crystal, but Superior crystal, the kind that occurs when the north wind turns every drop of open water into something sparkling and new. During the coldest months, the great lake freezes, heaves and breaks, forming mountains of crystal rocks, so tall they seem like permanent landforms. Icebergs and volcanoes rise in the harbors and bays, reflecting all the colors of the sky. Waterfalls slow from a rush to a trickle, building columns that bubble and sing. And, on the sandstone cliffs, springs that flow unseen in the summer months create glittering ice curtains.

During winter’s last stand, at the very beginning of March, I headed north to find Superior crystal. My trip was inspired by winter photographs of the U.P. that I’d viewed online. I’d seen dramatic images of enormous frozen waterfalls, great Superior ice fields, and shining rivers wreathed in morning mist. I wanted to experience and photograph all those scenes, but more than anything, I wanted to see the legendary ice curtains of Grand Island in Munising Bay. These immense, aqua blue ice curtains form when cold temperatures freeze the springs that seep from the island’s rocky cliffs. It can be tricky to get to the ice curtains, though. The island is not accessible every winter because the currents are strong in the bay, preventing adequate ice buildup. During last year’s historically cold winter, the bay froze sufficiently to allow foot traffic. For awhile it looked like Grand Island would not be accessible this year, but February’s arctic blast arrived just in time.

View Craig’s photo bigger and see & purchase more in the Grand Island Ice Curtains – Munising gallery on Craig’s website.

PS: The Grand Island National Recreation Area is located just off the coast of the UP in Munising and is an amazing place, complete with mountain bike trails!

PPS: More ice caves on Michigan in Pictures too!

PPPS: I really am a fan of the PS. If you are too, please PS in the comments!

Yesterday & Today on Mackinac Island

Mainstreet Mackinac Island 1930s

NE Mackinac Mackinaw Island MI 1930s, photo by Don … The UpNorth Memories Guy … Harrison

I think that it’s pretty clear that Mackinac Island, a living museum boasting an intact Colonial era fort along with many exhibition buildings, The Grand Hotel and other historic businesses and NO CARS, is Michigan’s coolest state park. Today (June 11, 2015), Pure Michigan will be presenting Mackinac Island to the world (well, the internet at least) in a whole new way. They explain:

As the first state in the United States to ever conduct a real-time virtual guided tour, Pure Michigan is offering you the opportunity to experience Mackinac Island – virtually! We’re partnering with Georama, a real-time vicarious travel platform, so you can virtually tour the island just by simply logging into michigan.org/live on Thursday, June 11 at 12 noon to 4 pm Eastern. Tom Daldin, host of PBS show Under the Radar, will serve as your travel guide and adventure lead in this digital exploration.

…Begin your journey by taking a ferry ride to Mackinac Island before getting an up-close and personal view of the island.

We’ll take you to downtown Mackinac, home to some of the most lovely shops and art galleries in the state, offering you a chance to peek inside as well as interact with people on the streets to get their thoughts on the island known as America’s fudge capital. We’ll also tour Douds Market, America’s oldest family-owned grocery store for 131 years so you can see some of the store’s specialty items and get a history lesson on the market.

From there we’ll visit Fort Mackinac and round out our journey with a trip to the gloriously-designed Grand Hotel. We’ll give you a new perspective of this landmark and invite you to join us as we sip tea on the Grand’s famous front porch all while surrounded by 2,500 gorgeous geraniums.

Click through for more and tune in!

View the photo background big and see more of Don’s Mackinac Island postcards & photos on Flickr. Be sure to follow him on Facebook as well!

Tranquility at Pictured Rocks

Tranquility at Pictured Rocks

Tranquility, photo by Michigan Nut Photography

John McCormick aka Michigan Nut shared this gorgeous shot from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore showing Lake Superior at its calmest.

View John’s photo bigger on Facebook, view & purchase photos at michigannutphotography.com and definitely follow him on Facebook for many more photos of the Great Lakes State.

PS: John’s Pictured Rocks gallery will knock your socks off!

Way up high and round and round with Pure Michigan

Atop the Mackinac Bridge, photo courtesy Google Trekker

Pure Michigan announced a cool new way to experience some of Michigan’s scenic treasures:

Through a partnership between Pure Michigan and Google, many of Michigan’s iconic destinations are now accessible to people all around the world through Street View in Google Maps. Google’s Street View Trekker is a backpack system with a camera on top that is worn by an operator who walks through pedestrian walkways or trails on foot – or in the case of some Michigan locations by kayak. The imagery is captured automatically and stitched together to create the 360 degree panorama seen on Google Maps.

More than 44,000 panoramic photos were taken by members and volunteers on the Pure Michigan team and the Department of Natural Resources who borrowed the Trekker and traveled for four weeks, capturing breathtaking scenes around Michigan, including this stunning view from the top of Mackinac Bridge.

Click through for a video introducing the partnership and a bunch of panoramic scenes from the State Capital to Mackinac Island to the Sleeping Bear Dunes to Tahquamenon Falls. Be sure to check out the behind the scenes for this pano as well!

Chasing Fall

Aubrieta at Cloud Peak

Aubrieta Hope at Cloud Peak, photo by Michigan Nut Photography

Aubrieta Hope shared this feature from the Pure Michigan blog about six photographers chasing UP fall color that includes three Michigan in Pictures regulars – Neil Weaver, Craig Sterkin & John McCormick. It begins:

Once upon a time, six shooters ventured north to the Tripod Forest, a fabled land of brilliant fall color in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. All were packing: most brought Nikon’s, but two carried Canons. They loaded up minivans, SUV’s and 4×4′s, bringing filters and flashlights, bug spray, raingear, ice scrapers, and backpacks. About half of them planned to find a campsite someplace and the others made hotel reservations. Some had never met, but were destined to. A few of them hoped to cross paths up there somewhere.

It was late September and their only plan was to find and follow the color. Frost was in the forecast. The time was now. The 2014 Michigan Fall Foliage Convention had begun!

Click for more including photos of these folks in action!

View Aubrieta’s photo bigger at the Pure Michigan Blog and see her photography at michiganscenery.com. You can also check out the other photographers at Neil Weaver Photography, John McCormick’s Michigan Nut PhotographyCraig Sterken Photography, Phil Stagg’s MI Falls and Kenneth Keifer Photography.