Mackinaw City, Michigan Road Trip | Travel

So most of you know based on our Instagram posts that my boyfriend Sean, our friends Mike and Dustin, and myself took advantage of the long weekend and made a road trip to Mackinaw City, Michigan! Mike had the idea on Tuesday night, plans were solidified on Wednesday, and we headed up right after work on Friday– packed my warm comfy clothes so fast. I spent most of my time shooting timelapse to create a compilation video, which you can view below! Hours of shooting + hundreds of photos = 35 seconds of footage.


Mackinaw City, Michigan is about 5 hours away from Fort Wayne, IN, so we finally arrived at Headlands International Dark Sky Park around 11:00pm. If you’re planning on making the trip, I would definitely recommend buying a red or green light flashlight or headlamp because walking down to the beach is about a mile walk and white light flashlights aren’t allowed (including cell phone flashlights), so you’re gonna wanna see. We set up our camping chairs and tripods a ways down the beach, found our camera spots and settings, and waited. The Canon 5D Mark IV has a built-in interval setting (hallelujah) so it was just a matter of making sure the settings were right and lettin’ it go! For these, my settings were 20-second shutter speed, f/2.8, ISO-4000 and I was shooting with my 16-35mm 2.8 prime lens!

The next day was mostly spent charging batteries, drinking too much coffee (shout out to the awesome log cabin-esk Starbucks), and napping in our motel room. Once early evening rolled around, we headed down the road to Old Mackinac Point Light. So beautiful and serene and quiet and did I mention beautiful?

A couple hours later, we drove back to Headlands International Dark Sky Park and parked across the street to explore the Mackinaw Historical Society Heritage Park. Sean had been periodically checking his phone for Northern Lights updates, so while we hoped we would see them, I don’t think any of us had any idea how intense they would be. To the naked eye, the auroras look like thin clouds with pulses of faint light, so you have to know what you’re looking for, but our cameras picked up all of the blues, greens, and purples that you see here. My settings were 13-second shutter speed, f/2.8, and ISO-4000.

We hauled back to the beach at McGulpin Point for the rest of the night to make sure we could soak in as much of the auroras as possible. We saw shooting stars, satellites, ships, and even a drone made an appearance that night. It was all so beautiful– beautiful and cold because I was wearing three shirts, two pairs of pants, three pairs of socks, and a blanket and I was still shivering. But totally 100% worth it. Settings here were 15-second shutter speed, f/2.8, ISO-800.

Overall this was an amazing weekend and I would absolutely recommend the trip! The hike to the beach at Headlands International Dark Sky Park is smooth and easy for all ages, the weather is gorgeous during the day and chilly at night (but nothing a good blanket and warm clothes can’t fix), and the views are definitely worth the late nights if you’re able to stay awake! Cheers to good friends, awesome nights, and spontaneous road trips.

Mackinaw City, Michigan | Nature + Travel | May 26-28, 2017

Location: Michigan, USA

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