Co-managed by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Michigan, the sanctuary was designated in 2000 to protect and conserve the recreational, historical, and archaeological value of the region’s natural resources and maritime heritage.
Lake Huron’s cold, fresh water ensures that the nearly 100 historic shipwrecks that have been discovered in Thunder Bay are among the best preserved in the world. While research in the sanctuary focuses on understanding the region’s maritime cultural landscape, the sanctuary also participates in scientific research, from real-time weather observations to artificial reefs and the complex micro-environment of submerged sinkholes.
Since its inception, Thunder Bay NMS has played a significant role in the region’s economy by promoting tourism and recreation in northeast Michigan. To visit the historic town of Alpena, take Route 23 (the Huron Shores Heritage Route, also called the Sunrise Coast). On your way, you can stop to visit one or more of Lake Huron’s historic lighthouses.
When you reach Alpena, you can:
As a travel destination, few places on the planet can compete with the diversity of the National Marine Sanctuary System. This article is part of an ongoing series to highlight what you can see and do at some of our most iconic natural and cultural marine resources. Check out our other sanctuary stories: