From the western most tip of Lake Superior at Duluth, Minnesota, to Tibbet's Point, New York, at the eastern edge of Lake Ontario, the Great Lakes stretch over a thousand miles across the heartland of both the United States and Canada, creating an incredible 9,500 miles of shoreline. The awesome size of these Great Lakes amazes just about everyone seeing them for the first time, as they simply stare at their expanse and are struck by their stunning beauty. The magnitude of our Great Lakes water system is difficult to appreciate, even for us who live here. Together, these 5 lakes constitute the greatest freshwater system on the planet, containing 20% of all drinkable water on Earth, only the polar icecaps contain more freshwater. This beautiful region is rimmed by towering sand dunes, rocky cliffs, beaches, marshes, forests, farms, cities, and industry. 6 of the largest cities in North America lie on the shores of the Great Lakes. Metropolises like Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Buffalo, all call the waters of the Great Lakes home and owe much of their wealth to commerce attracted to these lakes. Every summer, 10's of millions of people flock to these shores for boating, sailing, fishing, swimming, sunbathing, you name it, but the common denominator is one thing: FUN!!
From its beautiful beaches on its North shores, down to the bustling urban-industrial communities on its southern rim, ecologically, culturally, and economically, the diverse water system called Lake Michigan is unparalleled anywhere in the Midwest. Its Northern shores are sparsely populated and are primarily covered with forests. The more temperate southern part of Lake Michigan is the most urbanized area in the entire Great Lakes system, which contains the Chicago and Milwaukee metropolitan areas. Many communities' economies along Lake Michigan are now revolving around recreation and tourism in lue of manufacturing. Lake Michigan supports large sport and commercial fishing industries, worth more than 250 million annually. This lake also provides an endless range of recreational activities, ranging from pristine wilderness activities in northern parks to intensive waterfront beaches in major urban areas. On its Eastern shoreline, Lake Michigan carries the distinction of having the tallest freshwater sand dunes on Earth, in some areas towering nearly 500 feet in height, truly, a sight to behold.
The greatest of the Great Lakes is Lake Superior, the northernmost and western most Great Lake. It's the biggest, deepest, coldest, and most pristine. It is also the largest fresh water lake in the world. Lake Superior is unique; it's a vast resource of fresh water that has not experienced the same levels of development, urbanization and pollution as the other Great Lakes. Its clean, cold waters are rimmed by 2,726 miles of extremely rugged, variable, and exquisitely beautiful shoreline, 90% of which is forested and much of it still remains in wilderness. Lake Superiors draws a pull of the outdoors, offering a chance to climb over rocks and granite cliffs, explore ghost towns, hike through the forests or fish its clean, deep waters.
Lake Huron is separated from lake Michigan by the straits' of Mackinac. Rising above the straits is the Mackinac bride, the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere, separating Michigan's lower and upper peninsulas. The major activities surrounding Lake Huron are fishing, lumbering, farming, recreational activates and tourism. Lake Huron also has the distinction of having the largest number of shipwrecks on any of the Great Lakes. In November, 1912, the largest storm to ever hit the Great Lakes, with winds of over 100mph and waves in excess of 50 feet completely engulfed 8 large lake freighters without leaving a single survivor. The countless number of shipwrecks in Lake Huron draws thousands of scuba divers yearly, especially to the Alpena Michigan Region, which holds an underwater park preserve.
Lake Huron is also dotted by numerous islands. Mackinac Island, located in the straits of Mackinac, is among the most popular, with it's cobblestone streets and horse drawn carriages. The movie "Somewhere in Time", starting Christopher Reeve and Jayne Seymour was filmed here on Mackinac Island and as in the movie, The "Grand Hotel" is still busy as ever, with it's long porch and breathtaking vistas.
Lake Erie may very well be the most used, most enjoyed, and perhaps the most loved of all the Great Lakes. Gorgeous beaches abound on the magnificent body of water. This lake teems with boating, swimming, and sport fishing. Its walleye fishery is generally considered to be one of the best in the world. Along with popular islands, the most well known is "Put-in-Bay," referred to as the Mardi Gras of the north. On Lake Erie's south shore is Cedar Point, 30 miles west of Cleveland, in Sandusky, Ohio. It is the "roller coaster capital" and one of the best amusement parks in the world, drawing millions to its waterfront every summer. Almost 1/3 of the total population of the Great Lakes, reside in the Lake Erie region.
Lake Ontario is bordered on the south by the state of New York and by the province of Ontario to it's north. Canada's commercial, industrial and population heartland is centered here, primarily around metropolitan Toronto. Lake Ontario is similar to Lake Erie in length and breadth, yet Lake Ontario is much deeper and holds 4 times the water volume as Lake Erie. Besides having a beautiful coastline, lake Ontario has excellent beaches, fantastic fishing, catching 30 pound salmon is common place, and countless recreational activities. Connected to Lake Ontario is Niagara Falls, which is among the most popular tourist destinations in the country and one of the most breathtaking natural wonders of the world. Also, you don't want to miss the New Your State seaway trail, which is a 454 mile scenic route paralleling Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The Seaway Trail is a well marked, scenic alternative to interstate highways and toll roads, the Seaway trail leads you to eye opening treasures you might otherwise overlook. Traveling the trail takes you to sophisticated cities, quaint villages, laid back fishing ports, dozens of family attractions, restaurants, accommodations and ships.