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Sanilac Petroglyphs, Cass City

4.0
#62 of 79 in Historic Sites in Michigan
Historic Site Tourist Spot
Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park is a state park in Michigan containing Michigan's only known rock carvings attributable to Native American Indians. The park consists of 240acre in Greenleaf Township, Sanilac County, in Michigan's Lower Peninsula.The carvings, known as petroglyphs, were discovered by residents after a fire swept through the area in 1881 and revealed rocks bearing the designs. Because they are made in relatively friable sandstone, geologists have been able to determine that the carvings were made 300 to 1,000 years ago, dating back to the Late Woodland Period. There is concern that without preservation, the carvings may be worn further away and lost.The PetroglyphsThe petroglyphs include depictions of swirls, lines, handprints, flying birds and bow-wielding men, likely carved over many years by unknown peoples passing by the site while traveling along the nearby Cass River on a 1000sqft sandstone rock in Sanilac County, Michigan between 300 and 1,000 years ago. The petroglyphs are the only known such carvings in the state of Michigan.Conservation and VandalismThe sandstone slab in which the petroglyphs were carved is a soft stone that allowed Native Americans to cut it easily. But that softness has proven problematic as it has allowed generations of visitors to damage the slab with graffiti. Graffiti combined with natural weathering has made the actual petrogyphs difficult for visitors to see. The state has made a series of improvements to the site to protect the slab, including a wooden pavilion erected in the mid-1990s and a chain-link fence surrounding the petroglyph site.
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39 reviews
Google
4.5
  • We were unaware petroglyphs (pictures carved into rock) were to be found east of the Mississippi, and were pleasantly surprised to learn that these were located in our state. The DNR guide provided a ...  more »
  • This is a great place to go to get a little piece of Michigan's history. You feel like you're transported to the past and part of the culture that once took place here at this wonderous spot. I sugges...  more »
  • The trail from the parking lot to the petroglyphs was well maintained, pretty short, and easy to follow. There was a ranger who was knowledgeable about the history & lore of petroglyphs, and Native Am...  more »
Google
  • Loved this place. It was neat to learn the history of the petroglyphs. The trails are nice too. The trail was a loop the a couple years ago. Now one of the bridges is out and you can't do the full loop. It was still a good walk though.
  • Don is a super wonderful tour guide. If you want to learn about history put this stop on you travel list... Great hike also..
  • It was very pretty and we walked up to the petroglyphs as a volunteer was describing their meaning to another set of visitors. The bridge over the Cass River was broken and we weren't up to swimming across the river so we couldn't hike the full trail. Be sure to bring mosquito repellant.
  • Nature walks are always a good way to stretch ur legs w the family and see cool stuff
  • Tarp around petroglyph area until at least May, Cass River overflow made trails inaccessible to hike. Will return but disappointed this visit.