10 Best Scenic Drives In Michigan, USA

scenic drives in michigan
| 5 min read

A popular tourist destination for its scenic views of nature, Michigan is the perfect place for hikers, campers, wildlife and nature photographers, adventure travelers, or just about anyone looking to connect with nature. Bordering the great lakes, Michigan has over 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) of freshwater coastline, four national forests, 103 state parks, 16 state harbors, and over 900 miles (1,448 kilometers) of trails. Aside from all the beautiful views, there are other things in Michigan you might be interested in, such as its massive automobile industry (Ford), football, baseball, music, great ski slopes, and homemade pies and pastries. Being such as a large place with many scenic views and a booming automotive industry, what better thing to in Michigan than to drive and explore its nature’s wonders. Check out the best scenic drives in Michigan, USA.

1. Cut River Bridge

Cut River Bridge
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Chris857 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A historical bridge built in the year 1947, Cut River Bridge has become a popular landmark for travelers to visit and take pictures. The bridge itself is known as a steel deck cantilever bridge, spanning 195 m (641 ft) in length, and took 6 years to finish. The reason for it taking too long to finish was due to the high demand for steel during World War Two. Below the bridge is the Cut River and a wooden staircase unknown to many travelers visiting the bridge. There’s nothing much to do on the bridge, but if you were in anyway traversing the U.S. Route 2 highway in Hendricks Township, it may be a good idea to take some quick photos.

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2. M-23 from Tawas City to Alpena

Detroit and Mackinac Caboose 206 at Tawas City, MI
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user railfan 44 used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Tawas city to Alpena is best traversed through the route US-23 as it offers the best scenic views and is the shortest way from Tawas City to Alpena. Taking the US-23 route will take you a total of 104 km (64.6 mi) to reach Alpena, and will allow you to be accompanied by Lake Huron throughout your travel. You will pass by places such as Oscoda, Greenbush, Harrisville, and Thunder Bay River State Forest. Those who take this route will be rewarded with beautiful views of Lake Huron and Cedar Lake and state forests.

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3. River Road scenic byway

River Road Scenic Byway
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Unknown author or... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

If you were looking for a scenic drive with many recreational activities available, River Road might be a great path to take. It is a 35.4 kilometers (22-mile) route starting from Lake Huron to Huron-Manistee National Forests. Along the journey, travelers may stop and take part in several recreational activities such as hiking, skiing, camping, fishing, and boating. You will pass through places such as Foote Site Village and Sid Town. Along the road will be breathtaking views of the lush forests, vistas, and a variety of rivers and lakes.

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4. M-22 from Arcadia to Frankfort

Arcadia Bluff sunset
Source: Photo by Flickr user Rachel Kramer used under CC BY 2.0

Taking the M-22 route is the best way to travel from Arcadia to Frankton. Travelers only need to travel 20 km (12.4 mi) and pass by many scenic views that make the journey worthwhile. Travelers taking this route are rewarded with stunning views of the Arcadia Dunes, Upper Herring Lake, Lower Herring Lake, Green Point Dunes, and Bestie Lake. Take pictures at Inspiration Point, where you will get the best views of the massive Lake Michigan.

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5. Red Arrow Highway from New Buffalo to St. Joseph

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Red Arrow Highway is the preferred route of many travelers driving from New Buffalo to St. Joseph. The highway got its name as a dedication to the 32nd Infantry Division of the US Army whose insignia was represented through a Red Arrow. From New Buffalo to St. Joseph, the route will be 45 km (28 mi) passing by places such as St. Julian Winery, Warren Dunes State Park, Wildwood Recreational Field Park, Grand Mere State Park, Stevensville, and Shoreham Downs Park.

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6. US 23 from Tawas City to Alpena

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Starting from Tawas City with the US-23 route going to Alpena will take travelers 104 km (64.6 mi) to traverse. On this route, travelers will come by Three Mile Park, Lakewood Shores Pavilion, Cedar Lake, the Greenbush Golf Course, Harrisville State Park, Alcona Beach, and Thunder Bay. Travelers will witness scenic views of the bay, lakes, forests, and the sunset, and also have a chance to take a detour for recreational activities.

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7. M-134 from Hessel to Drummond Island

Winter creek, Drummond Island
Source: Photo by Flickr user Joe Ross used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Drummond Island is a popular destination filled with parks, lakes, and several popular tourist destinations. However, before getting to the island, you first need to ride a ferry. Once you reach, enjoy the experience and take the M-134 route starting from Hessel. The journey takes about an hour to finish unless you take a break and enjoy the scenic views of the area. The path passes by William B. Derby Nature Preserve, Albany Bay, DeTour State Forest, Saint Vital Bay, and Detour Peninsula Nature Preserve.

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8. Tahquamenon Scenic Byway

Tahquamenon Falls
Source: Pixabay

Want to go on an adventure-packed ride driving through beautiful sceneries? Tahquamenon Scenic Byway is a special path that uses the M-123 route to explore Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula. It is a 63-mile (101.4 kilometers) journey that will go through ancient forests and untamed land. Anyone taking the byway will enjoy beautiful views of the forest, waterfalls, sandy beaches, and experience the village hospitality if you decide to take breaks. The area is also rich with flora and fauna as well as wildlife.

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9. US-2 from St. Ignace to Manistique

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Manistique is located at the north shore of Lake Michigan. The place is known for its beautiful rivers, lakes, and state parks. The best way to visit the area would be to start at St. Ignace using the M-2 route. It takes you around one-and-a-half hours to travel. Using M-2 as your route will allow you to drive and have some amazing views of the Hog island, Garden island, Brevoort Lake, Epoufette Bay, and Cedar Lake. If you want to savor the moment, there are also a few campsites, a zoo, and several other attractions that you can visit for fun recreational activities.

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10. Copper Country Trail

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Copper Country Trail National Byway was created as the official heritage route of Michigan in 1994. The byway is known for its historical significance associated with copper mining, beautiful scenic views of the forest, and ruins. Travelers taking the trail pass by the towns of South Houston and North Calumet, each showcasing gorgeous greenery, features, and attractions that you might want to visit as well. There are also restaurants and shopping areas in case you want to enjoy a more leisurely experience. Copper Country is hosts a number of festivals that you might be interested in.

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Creating memorable experiences in Michigan

Blessed with natural beauty and resources, Michigan is one of the best places to drive around and explore its scenic views. Being such a big place, you might want to refer to a few of the listings above to get a good idea of what trails or paths you might want to explore. Some of the listings have historical significance while others are fun recreational facilities. Have fun on a scenic drive around Michigan.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Jayric, a young man in his early twenties, possesses a passion for tech, philosophy, and the arts. He's currently engrossed in personal projects, occasionally indulging in writing on the side, and...Read more

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