Michigan’s Sunrise Side is one of the best-kept secrets in the Great Lakes.
The state’s west coast Lake Michigan PR machine has done a better job of promoting the beaches and trendy little communities there while the Lake Huron coast along the state’s east coast has stayed purposefully low-keyed.
And that has been just fine with the locals and the sharp-eyed tourists who love the area. That means there are no traffic jams. Prices for food, lodging and the like are usually more affordable than the tourist-dense Michigan west coast. And for RVers, that means more places to camp with more space, better views and less competition for the best spots.
But the reason we like the Sunrise Side so much is because of the sunrises.
Check this out.
Some sunrises are an explosion of pastels. Others bright gold and yellow.
Every one is worth getting up for.
We’re now over 1,500 miles into our Verizon Wireless Great Lakes Shoreline Tour of the U.S.-side of the Great Lakes. And this leg, called the Sunrise Side, follows us from the start of Lake Huron in Port Huron, MI to the very tip of the Lower Peninsula Mitt in Mackinaw City, MI
In so doing, we found what just may be the prettiest two coastal roads in the region.
Granted, there may be shorter roads elsewhere that are more spectacular. But mile for mile, you just can’t beat US-25 from Port Huron to Bay City, and US-23, from Bay City to Mackinaw City. Most people take the I-75 interstate up the middle of the state. But the shoreline roads are much more fun and relaxing.
Both hug the Huron shoreline and offer numerous pull outs, roadside, county and state parks with lake views, stairs down to the wild shoreline and, often, camping.
On our trip we stayed in two places, electing to do the drive in three days.
Our first overnight was at the East Tawas State Park, located on the Tawas Bay Point. The Tawas Point is one of the best bird-watching spots in North America, smack dab on a migratory pathway. People from all over the world come here in late spring to birdwatch.
Many of the birds had moved on during our visit, though I was able to see a nesting pair of piping plovers, an endangered species. You can see them in the video.
We also overnighted in Alpena, MI, staying at the privately-owned Campers Cove RV Park located on the Thunder Bay River. The campground offers kayak rentals and shoreline fishing .
The video shows why we stayed in Alpena, to take advantage of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Alpena, , an underwater preserve because of all the shipwrecks there.
The three days we allotted for this seemed a bit rushed. If I was doing it over – and I will when we’re not on deadline or heading elsewhere – I ‘d make it at least five days.
Both are right on Lake Huron.
And both offer great sunrises.
If getting up early isn’t for you, we’ll talk about the sunsets when we hit Lakes Superior and Michigan later in the tour.
Here's our Sunrise Side video: