Fisherman’s Island State Park (Charlevoix): Michigan’s Best Spot for Petoskey Stones
We’ve visited many Lake Michigan beaches between Manistee and Mackinaw City over the years, and have been lucky enough to find Petoskey stone (Michigan’s state stone) at many of them. Over the past two years we have had the chance to visit Fisherman’s Island State Park in Charlevoix, where both Petoskey stones and Charlevoix stones are plentiful in the water and on the beach. While we still recommend trying your luck at any of the beaches listed in our Petoskey Stone Hunting: 10 Beaches Where You Can Find Michigan’s State Stone article, we are also pretty confident in now saying that Fisherman’s Island State Park is the best place in the state to find a Petoskey stone.
Michigan law limits rock collecting to 25 pounds per year. In just two visits to Fisherman’s Island State Park this year we were able to come pretty close to that limit in just Charlevoix stones and Petoskey stones. The best times to check the beach are after a recent rain or the day after a storm. This park is well-known for its plentiful Petoskey stones, so there will more than likely be a few other people rock hunting when you visit. A Michigan recreation passport is required for entry into the state park.
Petoskey stones are composed of a fossilized rugose coral, Hexagonaria percarinata. The hexagon pattern is fairly easy to spot when surrounded by other rocks. There is usually a dark spot in the center of each hexagon, this is where the mouth and tentacles were in the ancient coral. Charlevoix stones have a smaller exoskeleton compared to the Petoskey stone. It is also a favosite but has a smaller coral pattern and a lighter or white color set of small rays radiating from the eye. Once you know what these two stones look like, it becomes incredibly easy to pick them out on rocky beaches or in shallow waters.
Fisherman’s Island State Park covers more than 2,500 acres south of Charlevoix and has a rustic campground (that includes some amazing waterfront sites) and a picnic area. The star attraction here is five miles of unspoiled Lake Michigan shoreline, with lots of beach area for swimming. If you know how to spot Petoskey stones there’s a really, really good chance you won’t go home empty handed.
We’ve explored the beach area right by the park entrance, the beach area between the campgrounds, and the beach area near the south campground. That still leaves a lot of beach to explore, and that was one of the things we loved about visiting – you could spend hours in any one section of the park and still have plenty more to explore on your next visit!
Fisherman’s Island State Park is located at 16480 Bells Bay Rd., west of U.S. 31.