Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

2009 Visitors: 450,063.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan     Photo: Photograph by Aaron Peterson/Alamy

Main Drag: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Landmark, Michigan
2009 Visitors: 1,165,836
There's a reason the National Park Service made Michigan's Pictured Rocks area, on the southeastern shore of Lake Superior, the first national lakeshore in America: Its scenery is unmatched in the Great Lakes. Last summer, when I paddled along between the rockoutcrop of Miners Castle and Sand Point, I didn't even think I was in Michigan—the sea caves and Kool-Aid-green water are more Mediterranean than Middle America. Mineral stains have turned the 100-foot-plus sandstone cliffs into striated works of art, with layers of ocher-colored stone stretching for 15 miles. Put in at Miners Castle Beach or take a guided day trip with Northern Waters Adventures ($125; northernwaters.com), in nearby Munising. BEST CAMPSITE: The Little Beaver Lake Campground is accessed via a small, winding road—meaning no RVs ($14 per night, no reservations; nps.govpiro). BEST LODGE: Vista Grand Lodge, in Munising, features a sauna and lakeside fire pit ($1,850 per week for a group of ten; hiawathashideaway.com).

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