Mackinac Island’s Arch Rock viewing area to close for construction of $7.5M nature center

MACKINAC ISLAND, MI – The viewing platform for Mackinac Island’s most famous rock formation will soon close.

The upper viewing area of Arch Rock, known as the Arch Rock Plaza, will close on Monday, Sept. 11, as construction crews begin a $7.5 million project to construct the Milliken Nature Center in the area.

The area will remain closed to all traffic, including carriages, bicycles, and pedestrians, through at least April of 2024, according to Mackinac State Historic Parks.

Guests will be able to view Arch Rock from M-185, the shoreline road that circles Mackinac Island, and walk the stairway known as Spring Trail to the Arch Rock viewing platform.

“The Milliken Nature Center will be a welcome and fitting addition to the Arch Rock area,” said Mackinac State Historic Parks Director Steve Brisson. “In order for this structure to be ready for guests during the 2024 season construction must start soon. While we empathize with guests who may not be able to fully visit Arch Rock this fall, we are confident future guests will appreciate and enjoy the new Milliken Nature Center.”

Arch Rock, a unique natural limestone arch, stands on Lake Huron’s shoreline 146 feet above the Great Lake and can be seen from the island’s perimeter. It has been visited by millions of people since humans first came to the island.

The Arch Rock Plaza will be closed at the intersection of Rifle Range Road and Leslie Avenue and again at the intersection of Arch Rock Road and Huron Road. The Arch Rock Bicycle Trail and Botanical Trail will dead end before the hill leading to Arch Rock.

During this time Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, private livery tours, drive-yourself carriages, and saddle horses will have alternate routes that avoid Arch Rock.

Arch Rock closed

Roads will be closed at Leslie Avenue and Huron Road. Arch Rock Bicycle Trail will dead end before hill heading to Arch RockMackinac State Historic Parks

Guests on bicycle or walking will still be able to make a loop near the Arch Rock area by backtracking to Winnebago Trail, which runs from Huron Road to Rifle Range Road. It crosses Pottawatomie Road, Arch Rock Road, the Arch Rock Bicycle Trail, Rock Trail, and ends at the intersection of Rifle Range and Sugar Loaf Roads.

Occasional truck traffic from British Landing, on State, Garrison, and Rifle Range roads, will also occur. During construction a new drain field will be added to the Arch Rock area, and the out-of-date restroom structure will be demolished.

The Milliken Nature Center, named for Michigan Governor William Milliken, will include modern restrooms, a nature center, and space for guests at Arch Rock to relax. Mackinac Associates, friends preserving and sharing Mackinac’s heritage, helped contribute to this project.

The Milliken Nature Center is slated to open in May 2024. Official groundbreaking on the site, which will include Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, will take place Sept. 1.

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