Not only does Mackinac Island feel like a world away from the daily routine of life. Some of the incredible sights in Mackinac Island State Park actually look as if they’re out of this world.
While there are perfectly natural causes for the existence of iconic Mackinac Island rock formations such as Arch Rock and Sugar Loaf, they are the subjects of supernatural tales as well.
Take a look at these 10 must-see sights on Mackinac Island and let your imagination run wild trying to explain how they came to be. Then, get on up here and see them for yourself on a legendary scavenger hunt you’ll never forget.
10 Must See Sights in Mackinac Island State Park
Arch Rock is one of the most photographed spots on Mackinac Island, and with good reason. The limestone arch spans some 50 feet, creating a spectacular window through which to see Lake Huron more than 140 feet below. The view of Arch Rock is also amazing looking up from the water and roadway. As one early observer noted, Mackinac Island’s Arch Rock “appears like a work of art and might give birth to a thousand wild and fanciful conjectures.” There are many legends that describe how Arch Rock came to be, and the site itself came to be known as a bridge to the afterlife – or a portal for spirits to come down to earth.
There are no hieroglyphs on the rock that shapes the Cave of the Woods, but it’s as good a spot as any to tell the natural history of Mackinac Island. It’s one of Mackinac Island’s few remaining caves, hollowed out by crashing waves eons ago when the surrounding water levels were much higher. Finding the Cave of the Woods is a bit of an adventure, given its location near Mackinac Island Airport on a narrow trail through the woods far from where the lakeshore is today. Crazy to think that it used to be right at the water’s edge. Crouching down inside the cave’s mouth makes for a nice, dry photo op these days.
Crack in the Island is a literal break in the limestone base of Mackinac Island. But don’t worry, the whole place isn’t going to split in half! The crack isn’t anywhere near that deep, but it is deep enough to create a fun photo op walking through it or pretending to get stuck in it. Crack in the Island is located very close to Cave of the Woods in the interior of Mackinac Island and, according to legend, was formed when the Great Spirit stomped his foot in anger at the first arrival of Europeans. There are even tales about a giant from the underworld being trapped down there!
Devil’s Kitchen, on the outer rim of Mackinac Island, is one of the more legendary sights. As the story goes, evil spirits captured and cooked unsuspecting visitors. You can see fiery burn marks on the rock still today!
Friendship’s Altar is a large chunk of limestone sticking out of the ground near British Landing, on the north end of Mackinac Island. It’s where a wise teacher once disappeared into the sky on a magic vine, so the legend goes. Unlike the Cave of the Woods and Devil’s Kitchen that were hollowed out by waves, the 13-foot-tall and 8-foot-wide Friendship’s Altar was strong enough to withstand the crashing water, leaving an interesting landmark for today’s visitors to find.
On the east side of Mackinac Island is another rock outcropping about 130 above the water called Robinson’s Folly, just uphill from Mission Point Resort. It’s tragically similar to Lover’s Leap, with its own legendary origin.
Skull Cave is blocked off to prevent damage, but still worth a visit to get a sense of the history of the place. Eerie to think that it was once full of human bones! And creepy that when Alexander Henry famously spent the night there more than 250 years ago, he didn’t know until morning that the cave was used as a sacred burial site.
Sugar Loaf is a 75-foot tower of limestone rising out of the earth in the middle of Mackinac Island. The view from above at Point Lookout is especially nice. It’s also fun to walk around the base of Sugar Loaf and see if you can make out the profile of a face in the rock. That face is what gave way to the legendary story of how Sugar Loaf came to be.
Sunset Rock is a wonderful spot for a quiet moment with your special someone. It’s perched on the west side of Mackinac Island and offers a marvelous view of the sunset, with the Mackinac Bridge as the backdrop. There’s nothing legendary about the origin of Sunset Rock. In fact, there’s a manmade stone wall around it. But it is a celebrated spot in the family lore of many couples who have ventured there.