Where Cars Are Illegal: Eco-Tourism on Mackinac Island, Michigan

| 11/8/2013 4:40:00 PM

Tags: eco-tourism, cycling, bicycle commuting, walkable cities, transportation policy, Michigan, Lisa Kivirist, John D. Ivanko,

As soon as my wife, son and I stepped off the Shepler’s Ferry, one of only three ferry services to Mackinac Island, our connection to motorized transport ceased to exist. Since 1898, cars and nearly every other form of motorized, gas-guzzling transportation are illegal on this Michigan island. So, our adventure would be exclusively on foot, by bicycle, in a horse-drawn carriage, or on the back of a horse. Here, the police cruisers are bicycles.

The small island, covering only about 3.8 square miles, is surrounded by the shimmering waters ofBicycle Tourism On Mackinac Island LakeHuron and to the west, in the distance, the Mackinac Bridge connects the lower and upper peninsula of Michigan. We stepped back to a time before the dominance of the automobile, with both the historical charm captured in the Victorian-style cottages and homes, plus the natural beauty, meticulously preserved.

A Bicycle Heaven

With Mackinac Island State Park comprising over 80 percent of the island, the popular paved Lake Shore Road, state highway M-185, allows bicyclists, hikers and runners to loop its eight mile circumference to witness nature that’s little changed in more than a century. The state park was originally Mackinac National Park (America’s second, after Yellowstone) before the State of Michigan took over its stewardship and management in 1895. Back then, soldiers stationed at Fort Mackinac served as the first “park rangers.”

Numerous and hilly inland roads and trails cross-cross the island, connecting those on horseback, bicycle, horse-drawn carriage or foot to the island’s unique geological formations like Arch Rock and 75-foot-tall Sugar Loaf, or its many historic sites that are mostly confined to the bluffs along the southern side of the island.

12/1/2013 1:14:00 PM

I spent my birthday week at The Grand Hotel on Mackinaw island. My sister & I walked & rode the horse drawn carriages all over the island. The feeling of timelessness was amazing! We looked down at the town from the fort & it could've been 1713 not 2013! Would I go again? Already planning it! Relaxing, refreshing, slow-paced... slice of Heaven!

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