If you live in Metro Detroit, you’re in on a secret that many others might not be aware of: our region houses plenty of natural beauty. While most folks associate the Motor City and its surrounding areas with endless industrial sprawls, this assumption is simply incorrect – and we’ve got a list of nine stunning spots to prove it. Here are some of the most gorgeous natural wonders in and around Detroit.
1. Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (Grosse Ile Township)
Despite its splendor, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge remains relatively unknown among Metro Detroiters. This incredible spot sits just 20 miles south of Detroit and features 6,000 amazing acres of land to explore. From marshes to wetlands to habitats housing rare wildlife, there’s so much to marvel at. Visitors can fish, snap photos, partake in educational opportunities, and more.
2. Blue Heron Lagoon (Belle Isle, Detroit)
Belle Isle is a popular destination for Detroiters who love the great outdoors, and its Blue Heron Lagoon trail offers access to some of the island park’s most beautiful sections. As its name suggests, the pathway winds around Blue Heron Lagoon, an inland lake that will soothe your senses. Hikers will also enjoy lush greenery, views of the Detroit River, and skyline glimpses that are sure to impress.
3. Nichols Arboretum (1610 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor)
If you find yourself in Ann Arbor, you simply must immerse yourself in the natural wonders that abound throughout Nichols Arboretum, also known as The Arb. This spectacular spot is home to 123 acres and allows visitors to access the peaceful shores of the Huron River, which might be named a natural wonder in and of itself. From trails to trees to wildflowers and animals, there’s so much to enjoy here.
4. Sterling State Park (2800 State Park Road, Monroe)
Venture south from Detroit to Monroe County, where you’ll find Sterling State Park. This unforgettable area offers access to the shores of Lake Erie (in fact, it offers Michigan’s only state park access to the lake) and one mile of sandy beach. With 1,300 acres of land, three separate lagoons, a campground, and more, it’s easy to feel like you’ve stepped into a natural paradise here.
5. The Detroit River
We would be remiss to discuss natural gems in Metro Detroit without mentioning the Detroit River itself. This beloved body of water is the lifeblood of our city, boasting a fascinating history and a sense of serenity that draws folks to its banks when they need a dose of relaxation. Whether you’re watching boats pass at Milliken State Park or enjoying a picnic by the shore, it’s easy to love our delightful Detroit River.
6. Lake St. Clair
This freshwater gem separates Michigan from Ontario, but its natural beauty is even more impressive than its historical relevance. The lake’s sparkling waters can be accessed via an array of parks and public beaches, but its beauty is present from every vantage point. In total, Lake St. Clair features a surface area of approximately 430 square miles - so there’s plenty to love.
7. Erie Marsh (Monroe)
You might not have heard of Erie Marsh, but it’s actually one of the largest marshes along the shores of Lake Erie. Tucked away on North Maumee Bay in Monroe, Erie Marsh plays a vital role for waterfowl and other wildlife that call the area home. If you’re a fan of birdwatching, there’s no better place to explore, whether you’re doing some serious exploring within the wetlands or enjoying a more casual trip.
8. Kensington Metropark (4570 Huron River Pkwy, Milford)
While Metro Detroit is home to multiple metroparks, there’s something special about Kensington. This designated natural area is a woodland paradise, housing over 4,400 acres of land and offering opportunities to explore trails, waterfront gems, recreational options, and so much more. While it’s carefully maintained by Huron-Clinton Metroparks employees, Kensington’s natural splendor can’t be overstated.
9. The River Rouge
This body of water winds through Metro Detroit for 127 miles and has been the focus of many citizen-led cleanup efforts throughout the years, which seek to maintain the river’s natural beauty and enhance its health and appearance. Popular access points for the river include the Rouge River Bird Observatory in Ann Arbor and Dearborn’s Rouge River Gateway Greenway Trail.
Are there any other natural gems in and around Detroit that we should be aware of? We’re always searching for new places to feature in upcoming articles, so drop us a line in the comment section below or make an official recommendation by filling out our nomination form
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