Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park, Cass City

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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Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park Reviews
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44 reviews
  • This site is off the beaten track and many locals don't even know about it, but I found it to be fascinating! Not only did I get a history lesson but the setting was lovely too. Well worth a stop!  more »
  • Fascinating presentation by the DNR ranger. This is a small site and the glyphs are heavily eroded. I would not make a special trip, but if you are in the area, it is worth a visit.  more »
  • 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 »
  • This is a beautiful park with some amazing trails through the woods and some awesome Native American petroglyphs carved in giant sandstones. It's one of the best places on Earth in my opinion.
  • Somewhat disappointed, petroglyphs display structure was closed! Trail bridge across Cass river was gone, so could not loop the trail! But beautiful park nevertheless, geological features and history! Wish they fix the bridge and open the petroglyph display soon. Would love to revisit!
  • Locked gate around the Petroglyphs doesn't allow you to get close enough to see the carvings, but viewable from all sides until tarp is put up for protection from weather. Bridge to cross for circle path is destroyed, but walk along the river is beautiful. Bring bug spray! Restroom & picnic tables.
  • Drove 80 miles and was a somewhat disappointed. Petroglyphs weren't what we expected to see. A bit over stated on the website. Bridge out so you can't do the full loop and the bugs were unbearable so be sure to bring spray. Bathrooms could use a thorough cleaning as well.
  • 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.

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