When spring comes along, the forest awakens with the sights and sounds of the season. Included in those sights are various wild creatures, making outdoor activities that much more intriguing. For some campers, wildlife is exactly what they are hoping to see – and why they are there in the first place.

There are a few key spots in Michigan that are characterized by their abundant wildlife, not just in the spring, but during other particular times of the year. Of course, if you get outside and get into nature, you’ll encounter plenty of wildlife, too.


Northeast Region: Pigeon River Country State Forest: Elk

See some of the largest animals in the state, the mighty elk. It has the largest free-roaming elk herd east of the Mississippi. Located just north of Gaylord in the north-central part of the state, according to the Pigeon River Discovery Center website, “Elk can be seen anytime of the year but like any wildlife are more visible at certain times of day and year. Like deer, elk are most active early in the day and toward evening and during the night. During hot summer months, June through August, elk are probably the hardest to find… September and October are prime months to watch elk…” There are designated viewing areas (read about them here). Make sure to sit quietly and avoid going into the field directly. Most importantly, bring your binoculars.


Northeast Region: Saginaw Bay Area: Birds

The Saginaw Bay Area Birding Trail is traverses through 142 miles filled with natural areas, sprawling shorelines, and diverse habitats – making this a bird watcher’s paradise. Screech owls, red-tailed hawks, warblers, mergansers, songbirds, pelicans, bald eagles, and egrets are just some of the 200 species of birds you can find here. Not to mention, it’s a beautiful drive and a way to return to nature because it’s a less busy area of the state. Jump into Lake Huron for a break as you’re driving along.


Upper Peninsula : Isle Royale National Park: Moose

It’s quite an adventure to reach 200-square-foot Isle Royale by boat… but it’s well worth it. Open to foot traffic only, this is the best chance to see a moose in Michigan, as well as many bird species, beavers, otters, and foxes. There is a small pack of wolves on the island, too, but they are elusive creatures that aren’t keen to encountering people.


Northeast Region: Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge: Variety

The Wildlife Drive is open during daylight hours from June through September and is 6.5 miles long. It meanders past a variety of habitats ranging from forests, grasslands, marshes, and the Shiawassee River. Only vehicles are allowed, no bicycles. The route may close depending on wildlife needs, such as nesting bald eagles.


Upper Peninsula: Stonington Point: Butterflies

Although there are many places where you can see plenty of Monarch butterflies – with those distinctive black and orange wings – in Michigan during their migration, there is one particular location where they stop every season for a rest. And that’s in the Upper Peninsula in a gorgeous spot between the Big and Little Bays De Noc: Stonington Point. During the last two weeks of August and the first two weeks of September, you may experience them taking off in enormous clouds and heading south across Lake Michigan on their way to Mexico. If they aren’t taking off across the water, you can find them hanging on trees and branches by the tends of thousands. You don’t even need binoculars – just enjoy the splendor.