Mackinac Island is a fascinating and distinctive location that is situated inside one of the five Great Lakes and is littered with historical monuments from the American Revolution and pre-colonial America. However, given its size, a lot of tourists are curious if they can drive to Mackinac Island.
Since there are no bridges connecting to the island and driving is not permitted there, it is not possible to drive to Mackinac Island. To get to Mackinac Island, however, travelers may use a ferry, a private boat, or a short 7-minute charter aircraft. If you are planning to drive to Mackinac Island, continue to read, and we will be sharing all useful facts to be aware about it.
Planning a vacation to Mackinac Island might be difficult and stressful due to transportation complications, but if you keep reading, you’ll discover the best methods to reach the island without encountering any problems. The parts that follow demonstrate how, if you are aware of the procedures and possibilities, getting to Mackinac Island is rather simple.
Driving to Mackinac Island – Is it possible?
Between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan is where Mackinac Island is situated in Lake Huron. The island is specifically located in the Straight of Mackinac, a confined body of water between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
The Native American name Massimiliano, which is an Ojibwe word that means “large turtle,” is the source of the English word Mackinac. This island’s original name alludes to the way it protrudes from the ocean like a turtle shell. The island is just 8 miles long and has a surface area of 3.8 square miles. Despite the island’s modest size, there are plenty of visitor attractions and activities.
Visitors must choose a method of transportation before they may experience any of the sights. Ferries are one of the most often used ways to reach the island. Ferries carry the majority of tourists to Mackinac Island. The ferries depart from two major ports; one is on the upper peninsula and the other is on the lower peninsula.
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Boat rides to Mackinac Island
The boats leave from Mackinaw City, a city located at the lower peninsula’s northernmost tip, in the lower peninsula. The ferry docks at St. Ignace are where it departs towards the upper peninsula. Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry and Shepler’s Ferry are the two firms that provide ferry service to customers.
It takes 15 to 20 minutes to go to the lower and higher peninsulas by ferry. Visitors may gaze out one of the boat’s several windows while taking the ferry to and from the island to take in the scenery. Visitors who want a more expansive view may perch on the top deck and take it all in. The ferry service runs from the end of April until the end of October. During the regular season, each enterprise operates out of both the upper and lower peninsulas.
Throughout the winter, journeys to Mackinac Island are also available on the Hydro-Jet Ferry for an extra fee. If you’re planning a winter vacation, don’t forget to check the availability and weather as it may sometimes be closed due to ice. Only the St. Ignace dock on the upper peninsula is used for the winter service.
For an adult and a kid, a roundtrip ferry ticket typically costs $30.00 and $19.00, respectively. Every 30 minutes between 8:00 am and 10:00 night, the services normally operate. Given that there are only a limited amount of spaces available, it is preferable to purchase your tickets online before traveling to Mackinac Island. You can get the time you want if you buy your tickets in advance.
Visitors may use I-75 or US 2 to go from the upper peninsula to the ferry ports. I-75 serves as the primary route from the lower peninsula to the ports.
Those who have baggage may pick it up at the pier and transport it to their accommodation. Some establishments offer to transport your bags to your hotel or room for you, depending on where you stay.
Flying to Mackinac Island
The second most common method of accessing the island after the boat is via aircraft. Flights to the island are provided by Great Lakes Air and Fresh Air Aviation. Although plane tickets are more costly than ferry tickets, they may be a fun way to see the island before visiting it on foot. Flights are less convenient than riding the boat since they only leave from St. Ignace.
Private boat tours
Private boat travel is the last access method to Mackinac Island. A public port with 80 berths is available for daytime usage or overnight mooring. These slips can accommodate vessels up to 74 feet long. In order to take use of the facilities at the docks, which include showers, barbecues, bathrooms, and power, many visitors decide to spend the night on their boats after having a fun day on Mackinac Island.
Where Should Your Car Be Parked Before Visiting Mackinac Island?
No matter how you arrive to Mackinac Island, there are plenty of locations to park your automobile. In the upper and lower peninsulas, there are free parking areas close to the docks for both the Shepler’s Ferry and the Hydro-Jet Ferry. Both businesses also charge a fee for premium parking.
These parking areas are available for both daytime and overnight parking. While the premium parking is in a protected lot, the free parking areas are unsafe. The price for the premium parking is $10–$20 per car, each night. Space in the premium parking is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. For a charge, the Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry also provides valet parking.
Attractions on Mackinac Island
Now you know about driving to Mackinac Island. Along with that, you should take a look at the things that you can do as well. Summertime hours allow visitors to see the historic downtown. In this region, there are several structures and establishments that allow tourists to experience life in the 1820s and 1830s. People costumed in period attire and demonstrations at locations like the Benjamin Blacksmith House and American Fur Company Retail Store round out the experience.
Mackinac Island State Park, which was founded in 1895 and occupies more than 80% of the island, was Michigan’s first state park. Mackinac Island has a lot of historical sites in addition to gorgeous natural wonders. The island is covered with granite formations that showcase Michigan’s stunning landscape. These formations include, among others:
On the edge of Lake Huron, there is a limestone arch known as Arch Rock. This structure stands 146 feet above the lake’s surface. The arch is decorated with lush, green plants and shrubs. Sugar Loaf Rock is a 75-foot-tall outcropping of bare rock that sticks out sharply from the surrounding lush foliage. Native Americans have always revered this rock as a holy site. These are just a handful of the several activities that tourists may find on the island.
Why aren’t vehicles permitted on Mackinac Island?
Since 1896, cars have been prohibited on Mackinac Island. The new automotive industry, which started bringing noisy automobiles to the island, was the cause of this restriction. Before automobiles, horse-drawn carriages were the main form of transportation, therefore the local council on Mackinac Island decided to enforce the ban because the cars were upsetting their horses.
There haven’t been any automobiles on the island since the ban was implemented. Emergency vehicles, which are accessible to safeguard the health and safety of locals and guests, are the sole exception to this rule.
What Kinds of Vehicles Are Allowed on Mackinac Island?
The three major modes of mobility are walking, bicycle, and horse-drawn carriages. Bicycles may be brought by visitors or rented on the island. It’s important to practice proper bicycle safety since there are so many bikers.
On Mackinac Island, horses have always been the main form of transportation. Even horse-drawn carriage tours of the island are an option. While you are out and about, you will undoubtedly hear horses trotting down the road. The last popular and healthful mode of transportation on the island is walking.