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Sanilac Petroglyphs, Cass City

4.0
#70 of 80 in Historic Sites in Michigan
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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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
42 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • August 6, 2017
    Seen the reviews on here and while randomly riding around the thumb, we seen the signs. Awesome guy from the DNR giving a history lesson. Indian heritage is always welcome and appreciated (esp when I ...  more »
  • July 11, 2017
    A fun stop for a glimpse of Michigan history! The on-site staff was friendly and full of information and the cool forest trail was a great stop on a hot day for both us and our dog.  more »
  • July 4, 2017
    The park ranger sat down with us and explained many of the Petroglyphs that we would see. He was very knowledgeable and super kind to my son. We happened to come when a Native American tribe was perfo...  more »
Google
  • July 1, 2017
    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.
  • June 16, 2017
    Don is a super wonderful tour guide. If you want to learn about history put this stop on you travel list... Great hike also..
  • June 5, 2017
    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.
  • June 3, 2017
    Nature walks are always a good way to stretch ur legs w the family and see cool stuff
  • April 24, 2017
    Tarp around petroglyph area until at least May, Cass River overflow made trails inaccessible to hike. Will return but disappointed this visit.

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