If you have spent any time traveling throughout Michigan, you know that people often use a few distinct phrases to describe where they are at in the state. Any town in the Lower Peninsula that is north of Zilwaukee Bridge is considered to be “Up North,” while any place located on the small peninsula in the Tri-Cities area is said to be part of “The Thumb.” Well, nestled in the heart of the Thumb region is one of the most unique state parks in Michigan. Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park is one of the only places in the state where visitors can see ancient Native American stone carvings.
About Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park
This state park can be found in Cass City, a small village located in Tuscola County. While the state park itself is open 365 days per year, there is an enclosure that protects the historic carvings, and that enclosure is only open between Memorial Day and Labor Day each summer. When you visit the park, you will be able to take a guided tour in order to gain access to the enclosure and see the carvings for yourself. It’s important to note that all guided tours are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you want to add this to your MI summer bucket list, make sure to come sometime Wednesday through Sunday, as these are the only days that tours are available. The first tour departs at 9 a.m. each morning, with the final tour heading into the enclosure by 4:30 p.m.
After you have learned a bit more about the Native American people who once called the Thumb region home and have seen the petroglyphs for yourself, you can embark on a mile-long hike on a trail that winds through the park’s forests. Along this walking trail, which is easy and available for people of all skill levels, you will be able to see what’s left of a 19th-century logging camp. In addition, there is a 110-year-old white pine tree that can be seen from the trail.
More to Explore in “The Thumb”
Once your journey into the past is finished, you may want to continue your tour of Michigan’s infamous Thumb region. No trip to The Thumb is complete without traveling to the water’s edge, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Lake Huron. If you are looking to get close to the tip of the Thumb, Caseville is a great town to check out. Located just a quick 30-minute drive from Cass City, this town has miles of beaches and endless things to do.
Sleeper State Park is a beachfront park in Caseville where you can truly experience what it means to be at the tip of the Thumb. Since it is located on Saginaw Bay, you can actually watch the sunrise over Lake Huron in the east and catch those pretty pink sunsets over the lake in the evening on the western side of the bay. Sunrises and sunsets are famous all over Michigan, but in most places, you are only going to get one or the other over the water. Here, you get the best of both worlds. In addition to spending your day playing in the sand and cooling off in the crystal blue waters of this magnificent Great Lake, you also can hike the trails in the park that lead you into the dune forests.
When you are ready for a meal, you will find no shortage of options in Caseville. One of the newest restaurants in town has quickly become a local favorite. The Thumb Brewery is a microbrewery that brews its own craft beers on-site while also featuring nearly 20 other guest taps from breweries around Michigan. Even if you don’t drink craft beer, you will be pleased by the menu at this restaurant. With plenty of outdoor seating, it’s one of the best places to end a summer day in Michigan.
If you would rather go for a sweet, frozen treat instead of a frothy brew, then you should head over to Shakers Ice Cream Parlor. This unassuming northern Michigan ice cream spot is filled with dozens of ice cream flavors, making it the kind of place where everyone will find something that they love.
Lodging in Tuscola County
There is so much to explore this summer in Michigan’s thumb region! Add an overnight stay to your Michigan bucket list adventure at one of these great lodging options near Tuscola County:
We've included local campgrounds in most of the #MIAwesomeList posts to help you get the most out of your Michigan summer bucket list adventures!
No RV? No worries. You can save up to 25% on your travel costs this summer by renting an RV through RVshare!
Whether you want to pull it behind you or have it all set up at your destination, renting an RV is the best way to enjoy all your summer adventures in Michigan!