What is a National Lakeshore?

A brief explanation of the federal designation


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

A National Lakeshore is a coastal area recognized and protected by the federal government for its natural, historical or recreational importance. There are four National Lakeshores in the U.S., all of which happen to be located on the Great Lakes and are overseen by the National Park Service (NPS).

Each addition of a National Lakeshore to the register needs to be approved by Congress. The very first National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks, was established in 1966. Pictured Rocks is located on the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan. Stretching more than 40 miles, the area is popular for hiking, camping and other outdoor recreation year-round.

Just under a month after Pictured Rocks was established as a National Lakeshore, Indiana Dunes was added to the register. Indiana Dunes sits on 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and claims a total of 15,000 acres. The area has 45 miles of hiking trails that explore the diverse territory on the shore and many species of birds for those interested in viewing wildlife.

The final two National Lakeshores were added in 1970. Apostle Islands, consisting of 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland, was added first and remains a popular spot for visitors. Sleeping Bear Dunes was the final lakeshore added, notable features include massive bluffs that give visitors a one-of-a-kind look at Lake Michigan and historical coastal villages. Sleeping Bear Dunes is pictured below.

Above image via Wikipedia.org.

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