Michigan Lighthouse Guide and Map: Alpena County Lighthouses
The Lake Huron shoreline of Michigan is well-known for its lighthouses, shipwrecks, beautiful beaches, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Alpena is the county seat of Alpena County, and one of the largest cities in the northeast Lower Peninsula. There’s a lot to love here, including the NOAA Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, shopping, dining, trails, and more! We’ve already provided a guide to exploring the lighthouses of Presque Isle County to the north, and today we will show you how to visit the three Alpena County lighthouses. One of these lights is easy to see from the city marina, while the other two are found on islands and require a boat to visit. With the Michigan Lighthouse Festival headed to Alpena in August of this year, you have a chance to get on a special lighthouse boat cruise and visit all of these lighthouse and more!
Alpena Light – The only lighthouse within Alpena city limits, “Little Red” is a 1914 steel skeletal tower that sits at the end of a breakwall on the northern side of the Thunder Bay River. Surrounded by private industrial property, the best views of the Alpena Light come from the water or the end of the marina breakwater on the opposite side of the river. To reach the marina, look for Prentiss St. as you head north into downtown on U.S. 23. There is some parking on a small drive here or you can park at Bay View Park and walk over. This unique light is painted red and stands more than 30 feet tall.
Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse – The other two Alpena County lighthouses are found on islands out in Lake Huron. With a tower that stands over 60 feet tall the Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse warned mariners of the dangerous limestone reef near the island, where several shipwrecks can be found in shallow water. The Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse Preservation Society maintains the lighthouse and has helped restore the tower and the attached dwelling. See their Facebook page for contact information as your best bet to see this light is through a trip with them or on an Alpena Shipwreck Tours boat cruise.
Middle Island Lighthouse – Until a few years ago, it was possible to not only visit this lighthouse but to stay overnight on the island! It was recently put up for sale, so the best opportunities to see this lighthouse now come from a private boat or charter. Middle Island Lighthouse has a tower that stands 76 feet tall, painted white with a distinctive orange stripe in the middle. The dwelling stand a few hundred feet away and is a two-story brick structure that housed the Coast Guard personnel stationed here. A brick fog signal building also survives on the island.