Category Archive: Michigan Natural Landmarks

  1. Turnip Rock

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    Turnip Rock

    The Lake Huron shore has a more modest beauty than that of Lakes Michigan and Superior. There are pleasant beaches, but not the majestic dunes of Lake Michigan. There are rocky shores and limestone outcrops, but not the towering cliffs of Lake Superior.

    One notable exception is Turnip Rock, a small island on a pedestal barely off the shore of the tip of Michigan’s thumb. There is no land access, so you’ll have to approach this spot by water from Grindstone City or Port Austin. You can rent kayak’s and take a tour from Port Austin Kayak. As long as you’re making the trip, the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse is just a mile off shore from Turnip Rock, but you’ll only want to approach this on a very calm day.

    Port Austin Reef Lighthouse

  2. Empire Bluff

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    Empire Bluff

    Empire Bluff

    The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has been a refuge for me for decades. Early in my career I was a middle school science teacher. Believe me, I needed to get away from it all on weekends! In just a little over two hours I could be in the middle of this vast expanse of natural beauty. And more often than not, I could have it almost to myself since it gets little traffic outside of the summer months.

    One of my favorite places is the miles long beach that faces Platte Bay. The easiest access is from Esch Road where it dead-ends at Lake Michigan. Even in summer you can have this place almost to yourself if you arrive early or stay late. It’s the sort of place whose natural beauty leaves a lasting impression. Many times I’ve seen the light of recognition dawn on someone’s face as they exclaim “I KNOW that place!”

    Although most people perceive this as a summer scene, it was actually taken in mid-October. I find that the “shoulder” seasons of late spring and early fall are good times for photography. I can take images that have the look and feel of summer without battling the crowds of peak season.

    I took this photo in the fading light of day. The warm light masks the fall colors that were more visible earlier in the day. The landform that dominates the scene is Empire Bluff. Just at the tip you can see a hint of Sleeping Bear Dune further down the coast. I used a moderately long shutter speed so that the waves would blur slightly. I like the way the waves and clouds echo one another.

    I composed the image so that your eye would be drawn from left to right by the converging lines formed by the ranks of waves. Just as your eye reaches the left edge of the image, you encounter Empire Bluff which draws your eye back to the center.