Michigan

Our Favorite Extreme Mountain Biking Locations

Mountain biking is one of these sports that its enthusiasts take to extreme (and often dangerous) levels — and each of the five locations below are certainly places where you can do that. But this is not a post exclusively for aspiring X-Games participants. Each of these five destinations is also a great travel destination even for those with no interest in biking (or mountains). And if you are an uninspiringly average mountain biker, you’ll find cool travel ideas for you too:

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Kayaking the Thumb

Ask longtime Michigan residents where in the state they live and chances are that they’ll hold up their right palm and point out their hometown upon it—the shape of a hand held up approximating that of Michigan’s lower peninsula.

Ask an outdoor enthusiast who’s in-the-know where Michigan’s best kayaking trip is and chances are said enthusiast will hold up a right palm and point to its thumb. It is at the thumb where paddlers find the wonderful cliffs and clear waters of Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay.

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The Dunes of Lake Michigan

Picture outdoor travel in the upper midwest of the United States and an image probably comes to mind of flat forests and flat fields—if anything comes to mind at all.

In fact, the region is home to a variety of unexpected natural treasures,. Among those: the world’s largest freshwater dune system.

These dunes scattered along the shores of the five Great Lakes—Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario—were formed 3,000 to 6,000 years ago (recent in terms of geological terms) when the water level of the lakes was 40 feet (12 meters) higher than it is today. Every U.S. state and Canadian province that borders a Great Lake has at least one sand dune preserve area, including Indiana where there are some wonderfully scenic dunes not far from the powerfully unscenic blighted industrial town of Gary.

Arguably the coolest place to experience the Great Lakes dunes is at the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area in western-central Michigan.

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