The song of returning birds, clear tracks left in the mud from just-waking animals, the smells of a forest thawing; these are nature’s gifts for those who spend time at Wilderness State Park in spring.  For wildlife lovers, spring also marks a perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of birds and mammals before the growth  of thick summer vegetation.

Birdwatchers can seek out the endangered Piping Plover, which makes its way to its shoreline nesting grounds sometime between mid-March and mid-May.  The birds, which lay their eggs in shallow scraped depressions lined with light colored pebbles, are more often heard than seen, so listen for its distinct “pooeep” whistle.

For hikers or mountain bikers looking for inland wildlife sightings, the DNR offers a checklist for critter spotting.  Everything from bald eagles to otters can be found in the park, and more elusive animals like wolves and cougars have been reportedly seen on property.  And while this didn’t make the checklist, a Big Foot sighting was reported in the summer of 2009 along one of the park’s 23 miles of trails.

The 10,000 acre park near Mackinaw City boasts some 26-miles of shoreline that include wetland habitats and forested dunes.  Six cabins, equipped with bunks and wood burning stoves, rent year round for $60 per night. You won’t have electricity but you may get cellphone signal (but really, will you want it?).

To learn more about the cabins go to To make a reservation visit

Think you’d prefer a hotel or motel for your visit to Wilderness State Park? Check out the MyNorth Hotel and Motel Directory!

Quick Links to More Mackinac Island Fun!

  • Vacation Guide to Mackinac Island and Mackinaw City
  • The Complete Mackinac Island Restaurant Guide
  • Mackinac Island music, festivals, art exhibits and events of all kinds!
  • Video: A Day on Mackinac Island
  • Rent a Cottage on Mackinac Island: There are hundreds of cottages for rent in Northern Michigan. Put Mackinac Island in the Search box and you’re one step closer to that vacation of your dreams.