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      Ontonagon County's natural gem

      From rushing waterfalls to the serene Lake of the Clouds, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in northwestern Ontonagon County is a true natural gem. It was primarily established to protect approximately 40,000 acres of forest from being logged. But it might not have happened without the help of local residents.

      "It was mainly a group out of the Ironwood area that started actually soliciting the U.S. government to turn this into a national park," says park supervisor Bill Doan. "And then World War II occurred, which stopped the funding."

      The group then turned its attention to the state and the park was officially dedicated in 1945.

      With nearly 90 miles of hiking trails and 8 miles of Lake Superior shoreline, the park is an outdoor adventurer's dream. It's open year-round and is also a popular spot for snowmobiling and skiing.

      "One of the unique things is that there are no interior roads into the park," Doan says. "You'll be able to hike without hearing vehicle traffic or any kind of manmade noise, so you really immerse yourself in nature."

      The park's scenic lookouts are a great place to watch for wildlife or simply lose yourself in the sea of treetops. And beyond the beauty, it TMs become a cultural destination for both music and art.

      "We provide a program that artists can apply to, and if they're chosen, they come into the park and stay in a cabin," says Sherrie McCabe, who works with Friends of the Porkies. "Some of them have never been in the wilderness before. At the end of their residency, they donate one piece of work back to the Friends of the Porkies organization."

      Michigan residents planning to visit now need to purchase a $10 annual state park pass, which is available through the park or the Secretary of State.