by Ray Anthony
Known as Marquette's crown jewel of outdoor recreation, Presque Isle Park has something to offer everyone seeking to get into the rustic wilderness, yet without having to stray too far from the City of Marquette. The 323 acre forested oval shaped peninsula (not actually an island) prominently sticks-out into Lake Superior is known world-wide for it rustic natural beauty.
Presque Isle Park can afford just about anybody who wishes to be graced with nature and the great outdoors something to partake of. From cliff diving off of 'Black Rocks' or something perhaps more docile, like a picnic in one of the many picnic areas the island has to offer. For anyone seeking further information that may not be covered here within, you may wish to check out the Marquette's starting point: Lake Superior Community Partnership.
Listed below is a list of site-seeing spots located on the island and things that one can participate in that this crown jewel of recreation has to offer, listed as one would drive-thru (certain hours apply), walk or bike on the road leading around the island.
46° 34' 20" N 87° 22' 25" W
87 Seasonal Slips and 10 Transient Slips
Phone: (906) 228-0464 or (906) 228-0460
Fax: (906) 228-0493
2004 Dates: May 1 to November 1
Off-Season Phone: (906) 228-0460
Radio Channel: 9
Amenities include: water (20 and 50 amp with 220 volts), electricity, restrooms, showers, gasoline, diesel, pump out, ice, boat launch, public phone, day-use dockage, playground/park, grills/picnic tables, cable TV hookups, laundry and marine supplies.
46° 34" 25' -87° 22" 27'
Warning! The Presque Isle Break-wall is an area that allows one to witness the relentless brute force of Mother natures wrath. It is a thing of spectacular beauty, however very dangerous when the weather is ill mannered. Even on the sunniest of Summertime days, the waves can break-over the break-wall and may sweep you out to sea. Heed the warning sign advice, and sadly enough, the rock memorial situated at the threshold of the staircase leading to the break-wall, that memorializes two young boys that didn't heed the signs warning.
You will happen upon the break-wall shortly thereafter passing the Presque Isle Marina, which is located on the right-hand side upon entrance into the park.
The Presque Isle events gazebo and picnic area is nestled in a stand of tall oak tress. A fitting place for a family picnic indeed with it's tall oaks providing a canopy of shade from the Summers heat, along with a breeze that comes off of Lake Superior near the break-wall. Many weddings have taken place at the gazebo, which can be reserved for a cost. Almost everyday of the week through the entire year, the gazebo can be used by anyone, anytime of day. It offers three bench seats and is ordained with decorative wrought-iron trellises. The spectacular splendor of Autumn color reigns supreme in the gazebo and picnic area each September through October. A site-seeing must see!
Whether you're in route by car (certain hours apply), bike or by foot, shortly after passing the Presque Isle events gazebo and picnic area, you will happen upon the grave site of Chief Charley Kawbamgam. Chief Charley Kawbamgam was the last chief of the Chippewa Indians. Chief Kawbamgam and his wife Charlotte, resided on the island. “Presque Isle was their home for many years – and into eternity,” as a sign located at the grave site reads.
The Presque Isle scenic look-out can be found on the right-hand side, about a ¼ from the grave site of Chief Charley Kawbamgam when traversing one-way only, as the sign reads upon entry onto the island. The look-out provides a panoramic view of one of the islands rocky out-cropping, a view of Lake Superior clear to the horizon and of an adjacent island several hundred yards away off shore that is inhabited by seagulls.
Black Rocks is an elevated rocky out-cropping portion of the island that is locally known for the cliff-diving opportunities it affords the brave at heart. I have witnessed divers of all ages; young and old alike jump from the 30' foot rocky platform that over-looks a stoney cove where the lower level land loving people can spectate the divers.
If one doesn't take the hair-pin turn that leads off the island drive-thru road and into the Black Rocks parking area that is provided, one will discover a pleasant picnic shelter that was provided by the local Marquette Kiwanis organization. The Kiwanis picnic shelter is near a few stoney inlet coves where agates can be found. Be careful navigating the rocky descents to where most times are pleasantly private little grotto like coves. Not only is it wise to swim in pairs, but to also travel in pairs when hiking difficult terrain. The Kiwanis picnic shelter is adjacent to the wonderful Sunset Point. Make a day of it and take advantage of the islands geographical peninsula properties of seeing the sun rise as well as set.
Seen one sunset you've seen them all? I beg to differ! Sunset Point, located at the “top” of the island, adjacent to the Kiwanis picnic shelter makes for a cornucopia of colors that any professional and amateur travel photographer or outdoor activity seeker could ever ask for. Sunset point offers views of Little Presque Isle looking westward . With the naked eye, most can even see the distant Granite Island Light Station. Depending on the park hours, the time and day in accodance with the seasonal time of year, Sunset Point is also the perfect venue for viewing the Northern Lights.
The recently constructed Presque Isle Park Pavilion is certainly a stand-out gem in the islands jeweled crown of recreation, outdoor activities and tourism site-seeing here in Marquette Michigan. Most days anyone can utilize the pavilion or the picnic area across the road that over-looks Lake Superior. However, the Presque Isle Park pavilion can be reserved for private events and is always stated as so with signage. Please respect the privacy of others. The Presque Isle Park Pavilion offers many amenities and more information here.
Research materials and information was on short supply at the time of writing this article about the Shiras Zoo. I've asked several locals about the place to no avail, for the exception of some of whom say that the inception of Shiras Zoo is speculatively to have opened on Presque Isle as late as the 20's. I have found a few links, created by aspiring writers who have made mention of the place in their books, but no information regarding the operation of Shiras Zoo.
I did find a bit of interesting information through Google News in regards to Shiras Zoo from 1959, where it mentions a re-opening of Shiras Zoo. Here is the link.
Anyone seeking site-seeing information for just about “Everything” that is Marquette, you may wish to try Marquette's starting point: Lake Superior Community Partnership for a myriad of information in regards to outdoor adventure travel in Marquette, site-seeing information, or travel & tourism in Marquette County.
MooseWood Nature Center operates as a non-profit independent organization which gains financial support by means of memberships, donations and grants. The Moosewood Nature Center's mission is to celebrate nature through education and action in the Upper Peninsula. The MooseWood Nature Center offers a wide array of programs dedicated to the preservation and appreciation for schools and groups. Programs are free for those who support the MooseWood Nature Center with the purchase of a yearly membership. Located right next to the MooseWood building is the ongoing MooseWood Nature Center Pool To Wetland Project. This project let nature take over the now defunct Shiras Pool & Waterside. Interesting to see nature taking back, what was once theirs.
The Bog Walk
Located next to the MooseWood Nature Center Pool To Wetland Project is the Bog Walk. The Bog Walk nature-trail leads adventurous outdoor enthusiasts hike in the midst of several different species of flora and fauna.
MooseWood Nature Center