Michigan August 26, 2017
The 9 Best Backroads In Michigan For A Long Scenic Drive
While there are plenty of wonderful ways to explore Michigan by foot, sometimes you just need to get in the car and drive. Whether you’re looking to unwind, take your mind off everyday life, or simply catch some of the most beautiful views in the state, here are nine scenic roads to follow in Michigan when you’re ready for an incredible journey.
1. Tunnel of Trees (M-119)
This magical journey between Cross Village and Harbor Springs will make you feel as though you’ve been transported to a real-life fairy tale. Drive under lush foliage that’s especially lovely during autumn — you’ll be awestruck by its beauty. Along the way, you’ll also catch gorgeous views of the Lake Michigan shoreline from atop stunning bluffs.
2. River Road Scenic Byway
This 22-mile drive winds alongside the beautiful Au Sable River and travels westward through the Huron National Forest. This is more than just a drive: along the route, visitors will find ample opportunities to stop and picnic, take a walk, or even camp amid the breathtaking forestry. What’s not to love?
3. Whitefish Bay National Forest Scenic Byway
This gem in the Upper Peninsula can be found within Hiawatha National Forest. Travel along FFH42 from near the town of Paradise and drive alongside the beautiful shores of Whitefish Bay. The route ends near Point Iroquois, but you might be tempted to turn around and drive it all over again!
4. M-22 Circle Tour
If you love Lake Michigan, this is the drive for you. Perhaps Michigan’s most famous scenic route, M-22 stretches for over 115 miles along the shores of our beloved Big Lake. Start your journey in Manistee and travel through Benzie and Leelanau Counties before winding up in Traverse City. Just be forewarned: it’s impossible not to stop at one of the marvelous locales along the way!
5. US-2 between St. Ignace and Escanaba
This delightful drive in the U.P. is especially stunning during autumn months, but it will charm you no matter when you visit. You’ll be in awe of your surroundings as you travel along this magical route, which might make you forget you’re in the Midwest! Don't forget to stop in Manistique to check out Kitch-iti-kipi, Michigan’s most famous natural spring, during your journey.
6. US-23 along the Sunrise Coast
If you’re willing to get up early to (and we mean pre-dawn early) to spot a sunset, you can have the experience of a lifetime along the coast of Lake Huron. Follow US-23 all the way from Standish to Mackinaw City, stopping along the way to marvel at lighthouses, public beaches, and hiking paths. Lake Huron is oft-underrated, but we promise this is one drive you’ll never forget.
7. M-28 from Marquette to Munising
This one is a no-brainer. If you find yourself in the Upper Peninsula, you simply must experience the stunning coast of Lake Superior, and a drive along M-28 will help you do just that. This 43-mile stretch of road gives way to insanely beautiful views of the water, and you’ll end your journey in Munising — where you can hop on a boat tour to enjoy a closer look at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
8. Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has never looked so good. Load up the car and take a drive along this scenic route, which winds through forested areas and gives way to some of the most breathtaking overlooks imaginable. Stop to snap a few photos, sink your toes into the soft sand, and marvel at a seemingly endless view of gorgeous Lake Michigan. This is Michigan at its best.
9. Brockway Mountain Drive
If you’re looking for a short but sweet scenic drive, this is the one for you. During your next trip to the U.P.’s Copper Harbor, take the 9-mile jaunt along Brockway Mountain Drive, which offers stunning elevated views of the surrounding landscape and an amazing vantage point for admiring Lake Superior. Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready: you might even spot some unique birds of prey along the route!
Have you traveled along any of these scenic routes here in the Great Lakes State? Did we leave your favorite backroads off our list? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!