10 Amazing Facts About Lake Michigan You Probably Didn't Know (2023)

Lake Michigan is the third-largest of the Great Lakes, but it often gets lost in the shadow of its larger brethren. But make no mistake—this body of water offers a unique set of experiences to adventurers who know where to look!

With its second-longest shoreline in America and no shortage of activities waiting to be explored, Lake Michigan has an incredible amount just waiting for travelers to discover. This post is an opportunity for travel enthusiasts to uncover the 10 fascinating facts about Lake Michigan that few people know. Come along, learn and explore all this great lake has to offer!

10 It Has Its Own Bermuda Triangle

Sometimes referred to as “The Great Lakes Triangle,” this area is located in the Centre of Lake Michigan and has been said to be home to unexplained disappearances. During the 19th century, ships and vessels often went missing without a trace in this area.

Furthermore, some sailors claimed to have seen strange lights in the sky, eerie mists, and mysterious vanishing. The US Navy even sent aircraft to investigate the disappearances, but nothing was ever found. Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducted a thorough search of the area in 2017, but they could not explain the phenomena either.

9 Earth's Fourth-Largest Lake By Surface Area

At 22,300 square miles, Lake Michigan is the fourth-largest lake in the world by surface area. It's more significant than the entire country of Switzerland and contains an estimated 1,180 miles of shoreline. Nobody knows how deep Lake Michigan is, but the deepest point is measured at 925 feet.

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Lake Michigan is also home to many fascinating creatures, including over 80 species of fish. Its surface provides a bird habitat, and its depths are home to many aquatic mammals like the endangered Lake Michigan River Otter. Anglers can find native species such as walleye, smallmouth bass, Chinook salmon, and lake trout. Besides, this great lake also contains many submerged ships, some dating back centuries.

8 It Has Beautiful Islands & Coves

Lake Michigan has over 1,600 islands scattered throughout its coastline. Beaver Island is one of the most notable havens, home to some of the most beautiful and remote beaches. Other points of interest include Washington Island, North & South Manitou Island, Sand Point Beach, and South Haven.

The lake also provides many excellent coves and bays, such as Grand Traverse Bay and Little Traverse Bay, which provide stunning views of the lake and its islands. Travelers can also explore the lake's lighthouses, such as Point Betsie Lighthouse and Waugoshance Light. Remember to bring the camera and capture all these incredibly picturesque views!

7 It Is Home To More Than 500 Shipwrecks

Lake Michigan is home to over 500 known shipwrecks, many of which remain submerged in its depths to this day. The lake has claimed many vessels over its long history, from ships of the fur trade to barges and schooners. The most famous wreck is the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in 1975 after being caught in a violent storm.

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Exploring these wrecks is a popular activity for scuba divers and marine archeologists. The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society works to protect these wrecks and preserve their history. There are also several sunken aircraft in the lake, including a B-17 bomber from World War II.


6 It's Filled With Interesting Wildlife

Beneath the waters of Lake Michigan, tourists can find a variety of fascinating wildlife. Not only does it contain numerous fish species, but it is also home to endangered species like the Lake Michigan River Otter. Other creatures, such as sea lampreys, mussels, and crustaceans, also inhabit the lake.

The shorelines of the lake are also home to various birds and mammals. Bald eagles, herons, cormorants, and ospreys are just a few of the species spotted around the lake. Lake Michigan is also a major stopover for migrating birds, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers.

5 A Historic Tugboat Graveyard

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The so-called 'tugboat graveyard' is one of the most mysterious and fascinating aspects of Lake Michigan. Located near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the remains of numerous tugboats can be found in shallow waters.

These vessels were active during the 20th century, transporting coal and iron ore from the Great Lakes. But many eventually ended up here after becoming too old and inefficient for commercial use. Moreover, some tugboats were used in World War II and still bear their original markings. Visiting this mysterious graveyard is an incredible experience, providing a glimpse into the history of Lake Michigan.

4 The Only Place In The World To Find Petoskey Stones

The Petoskey Stone is a unique and beautiful fossil of the Devonian era. It can only be found in Lake Michigan, specifically around the northern region of the lake and its islands. Petoskey Stones were originally coral colonies, but over millions of years, they fossilized and can now be found on the lake's beaches.

These stones have a distinct pattern that is perfect for creating jewelry, which makes them popular with rock collectors. Petoskey Stones are a symbol of Michigan and can be found in various parks and beaches around the lake, making them an excellent souvenir for the trip.

3 Home To The World’s First Underwater Preserve

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve are located in the northwest corner of Lake Michigan. It was established in 2000 and is the first underwater preserve worldwide. This sanctuary covers 448 square miles and contains more than 100 known shipwrecks, including some that date back to the mid-19th century.

The sanctuary is also home to various aquatic life, including fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. It is also a popular destination for scuba divers and underwater photographers who want to explore the mysterious wrecks beneath the lake's surface. Moreover, the preserve is also a great place to learn about Lake Michigan's maritime history.

2 The Great Lakes Water Trail

The Great Lakes Water Trail is a network of routes that provide access to the shoreline of Lake Michigan. It spans over 3,000 miles, making it the longest water trail in the United States. The trails are popular among kayakers and canoeists who want to explore the lake and its stunning scenery.

The trail also has several campsites along the way, educational programs, and an interpretive center that provide visitors with more information about the lake's history and wildlife. It is an incredible way to experience Lake Michigan's beauty and get close and personal with its many wonders.

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1 It's Famous For Its Delicious Smoked Fish & Trout

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Lake Michigan is also famous for its delicious smoked fish and trout. Local fishermen have been catching fish from the lake for centuries, and now it is one of the most popular destinations for sport fishing. The lake is home to many fish species, including walleye, pike, bass, lake trout, and salmon.

Local restaurants serve the freshest fish caught from the lake, making them an ideal dining spot for seafood lovers. Whether looking for a delicious meal or simply wanting to enjoy the beautiful view of Lake Michigan, make sure to try some of its excellent smoked fish and trout.


What are some fun facts about Lake Michigan? ›

Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake that is entirely within U.S. territory. The Great Lakes touch 8 states – but Michigan is the only state that touches four lakes, with borders on Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie.

Why is Lake Michigan so special? ›

The water of Lake Michigan serves many purposes. It supports large commercial and sport fishing industries. It provides industrial process and cooling water, and water for agricultural irrigation. Fleets of freighters pass over the lake carrying bulk commerce items.

What did they find at the bottom of Lake Michigan? ›

Researchers with the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society discovered the 292-foot vessel 35 miles off Vermilion Point and confirmed it is Barge 129, one of only 44 whalebacks ever made, CNN reported.

What are 5 interesting facts about lakes? ›

There are 117 million lakes on Earth, covering 3.7 percent of the continental land surface. Most lakes are relatively small – 90 million lakes are less than two football fields in size. Most lakes lie low — 85 percent are at elevations less than 1,600 feet (500 meters) above sea level.

Why is Michigan water so blue? ›

The blue in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron is sediment brought to the surface when strong winds churned the lakes. The green in Lake Erie and in Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay is algae, which builds on the surface when winds are calm.

How many deaths have been at Lake Michigan? ›

38 drownings have occured in Lake Michigan alone.

Why are there so many accidents at the boating hotspot called the playpen in Chicago?

Where is the deepest spot in Lake Michigan? ›

Lacey Mason of the Great Lakes Environmental Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan informed us that the deepest part of Lake Michigan is about 925 feet, and is located in the Chippewa Basin which is about 36 miles east of Forestville, Wisconsin on the Door Peninsula.

Why is Lake Michigan sand black? ›

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the black-stained sand is actually a dark mineral called “magnetite” mixed with another mineral called “hematite” which gives it the red color. Magnetite is an iron oxide and thus, is magnetic. It is safe to play with and walk on.

Has there ever been a tsunami on Lake Michigan? ›

Eight people were killed after a large wave surged over the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago in 1954. Decades later, the wave was identified as a meteotsunami, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Has a shark ever been found in Lake Michigan? ›

Two Coho fishermen pulled a 29-inch shark from Lake Michigan about two miles off the Milwaukee shore on April 25, 1969. The shark was dead, but for several days fishermen in the area were uneasy.

Was Michigan ever under water? ›

During the early part of the Paleozoic Michigan was covered by a shallow tropical sea which was home to a rich invertebrate fauna including brachiopods, corals, crinoids, and trilobites. Primitive armored fishes and sharks were also present. Swamps covered the state during the Carboniferous.

Are there pyramids in Michigan? ›

The once abandoned futuristic Steelcase pyramid in Gaines Township of Grand Rapids is now one of the most advanced data centers in the Eastern United States. Built in 1989, the pyramid was created by Steelcase, the world's largest office furniture manufacturer to be a research and development center.

What are two amazing things about the lake? ›

Lakes contain 90% of Earth's water, excluding oceans. The Caspian Sea, which is in both Europe and Asia, is the largest lake in the world. The Great Salt Lake in Utah is the largest saltwater lake in the United States, even saltier than the sea.

Who owns Lake Michigan? ›

The water in the Great Lakes is owned by the general public according to the Public Trust Doctrine. The Public Trust Doctrine is an international legal theory – it applies in both Canada and the United States, so it applies to the entirety of the Great Lakes.

What are things only Michiganders say? ›

We say “fyer.” Mirror — You really hear “meer” when we say this word. Milk — When Michiganders use this word, it comes out sounding like “melk.” The Letter “T” — With the Michigan accent, a “t” in the middle of a word often has a “d” sound.

What are 3 things Michigan famous for? ›

Michigan is known for the home of the automobile industry, beautiful Great Lakes shorelines, and a bustling college town atmosphere. The state is also known for its agriculture, with cherries, apples, and blueberries being some of the most popular crops.

What is the most surprising fact about Michigan? ›

Michigan is the only place in the world with a floating post office. The J.W. Westcott II is the only boat in the world that delivers mail to ships while they are still underway. They have been operating for 125 years.

What is unique about Michigan? ›

Michigan is the only state that touches four of the five Great Lakes. As such, it's home to the longest freshwater coastline of any U.S. state, *and* the second-longest coastline, period (coming in behind Alaska). Anywhere you stand in the state, you're no more than 85 miles from a Great Lake.

What was Michigan originally called? ›


Name Origin: Derived from the Indian word Michigama, meaning great or large lake. Capital: Lansing, since 1847; prior to that, Detroit. State Motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice, which translates, "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you."

What is the cleanest lake in Michigan? ›

As one of the cleanest lakes in Michigan, you can bet that Big Glen Lake near Glen Arbor is a popular destination for nature lovers seeking a pristine place to kayak, swim, or just enjoy the pretty surroundings.

What is the prettiest lake in Michigan? ›

With their white sand beaches and clear blue waters, Little Glen Lake and its big sister Big Glen Lake are among the most beautiful in the state. They are glacial by origin and were separated from Lake Michigan by a sandbar created over time. Little Glen Lake covers 1,415 acres, and its maximum depth is 13 feet.

Where is the clearest water in Michigan? ›

Big Glen Lake

Big Glen Lake is one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in Michigan. It is near the small town of Glen Arbor in northeast Michigan. Big Glen Lake and its sister waterway, Little Glen Lake were once a part of Lake Michigan during the ice age.

What is the deadliest Great Lake? ›

This means that Lake Michigan has been responsible for around 45% of Great Lakes drownings this year, more than double the death toll of any other Great Lake.

Who body was found in Lake Michigan? ›

The DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) and Intermountain Forensics have identified the victim as Dorothy Lynn (Thyng) Ricker, a 26-year-old woman who lived in Chicago at the time of her disappearance, Michigan State Police said in a press release on Monday.

Do Michigan lakes have snakes? ›

Eighteen species of snakes are found in Michigan and they are an important part of our state's ecosystems. Snakes can survive in a variety of habitats such as forests, grasslands, lakes, rivers, marshes, farms, and cities.

What is the largest wave ever recorded on Lake Michigan? ›

The highest wave recorded by the south buoy: 23 feet. It came in September 2011.

Are there underwater caves in Lake Michigan? ›

Are There Underwater Caves in Michigan? There are some amazing underwater caves in Michigan for exploring, including the caves at the Alger Underwater Preserve and the caves located in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Is there a tunnel under Lake Michigan? ›

Lake Michigan Tunnels

The first tunnel was completed in 1867, connecting to an intake crib two miles offshore to the pumping station at Chicago and Michigan Avenues.

How old is the sand in Lake Michigan? ›

The sand dunes of the Great Lakes region represent the largest freshwater coastal dunes in the world. These dunes, such as the Sleeping Bear Dunes on the northeastern shore of Lake Michigan, are only 3,000-4,000 years old - that's very young, geologically speaking!

Can you take sand from Lake Michigan? ›

Depending on the project's purpose and where the project is located within a Sand Dune Area, either a Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) permit or a letter of authorization may be required to remove sand.

Does Lake Michigan have gold? ›

There is also gold on in Lake Michigan. Most prospector focus on the western side of the lake simply because that is where the population is. Yes, believe it or not, you can get gold near cities like Green Bay, Milwaukie, and Chicago. Look for unsorted gravels and coarser cobble materials.

How did Lake Michigan get its name? ›

Europeans derived Lake Michigan's name from the Anishinaabemowin word mishigami, meaning “big lake.” It is the second largest Great Lake by volume and third by area surface; it is the only one located entirely within the United States.

Did Michigan ever have slaves? ›

In Michigan, slavery began after the arrival of the French in the 1600s. When the British arrived in 1761 they discovered Native American and African slaves. In 1782, a census, or count of the number of people living in an area, showed 78 male and 101 female slaves living in Detroit.

Does Lake Michigan have a nickname? ›

The first Europeans to see Lake Michigan were French traders and explorers in the 1600's, one of which called Lake Michigan the Grand Lac. Later it would also be called by the names: "Lac Dauphin", "Lake of the Stinking Water", and "Lake of the Puants" c.

Which Great Lake has the warmest water? ›

Erie is the most southerly, shallow, and biologically diverse of all of the Great Lakes. Its shallow depth makes it the warmest Great Lake and a favourite destination for summer recreationists and migrating birds.

Which Great Lake is the deepest? ›

Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by area (31,700 mi2 /82,100 km2). It is also the coldest and deepest of the Great Lakes, with a maximum depth of 406 meters (1,332 feet). By most measures, it is the healthiest of all the Great Lakes.

What's the smallest Great Lake? ›

Lake Ontario is the smallest of the five Great Lakes.


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