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“Weather” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Waters of Lake Huron Off the Coast of Northeast Michigan, Alpena, MI 49707
+1 989-356-8805
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Ranked #1 of 16 Attractions in Alpena
Type: Nature/ Wildlife Areas, Outdoors
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Attraction details
Owner description: Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 448-square-miles of Lake Huron, protecting one of America's best-preserved and nationally-significant collections of shipwrecks. Lake Huron's unpredictable weather and rocky shoals helped Thunder Bay earn the unfortunate name of "Shipwreck Alley." During the Great Lakes' 200-year shipping history, scores of vessels ended their careers on the lake floor off Alpena, Michigan. Some of the wreck sites remain largely intact while other sites are only remnants. However, many wrecks remain undiscovered... These vessels, preserved in time within the fresh, cold waters of Lake Huron, still have stories to tell of Great Lakes maritime history and commerce, from the earliest explorations to westward expansion in the 1800s and modern day trade. Through exploration, education, and research, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve bring to the American public the lore of Great Lakes maritime heritage.
Knox, Indiana
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2014

The displays were fascinating. There is no admission but I certainly made a donation--let's keep this place open. We were going to take the glass bottom boat ride, but it was cancelled due to bad weather. We'll try again sometime.

Visited July 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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96 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
25 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
“Psst! Don't tell anyone... Alpena on Thunder Bay is a well kept SECRET!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2014

Drive up US 23 along Michigan's Sunrise Shore.of the 200+ miles of shoreline between Saginaw Bay & Mackinaw CIty, you will be struck by the amount of BIG LAKE you can actually see! You'll pass through little towns with names like Standish, Au Gres, Omer (Michigan's smallest city), Au Sable, Oscoda (former home of the USAF 370th bomb wing), Harrisville, Ossineke & ALPENA. That's the place. It's a laid back town & you can miss some of the attractions if you aren't careful. The Chamber of Commerce is right on US 23 at the 4th street intersection. But if you are adventurous, drive around the town before heading back there for a map of the places to see & things to do.
But I'll share a few with you. Let's go the the National Marine Sanctuary. Head into town & at the intersection of US23 & Second Avenue, head toward the bridge (north-ish) drive slow & when you are on the bridge, look up river. THERE on the right side is the Lady Michigan. She is the Glass Bottom Boat that will take you out inoto Thunder Bay to see Shipwrecks!. Finish crossing the bridge & turn Left on Fletcher Street. Drive down to the end of the street & THERE IT IS! NOAA & the Underwater Sanctuary building. Park & go inside. Ahhh nice & cool. What's that noise? Waves roaring??? OH Look, over there, a BIG ship - no that can't be, it's a mock up of a big ship. So go onboard. NOw hang on, the ship will rock to & fro as it battles the waves of Lake Huron, & the sound effects will convince you it's real. I could go on & on. Nope. I'll let you see for yourself. Then YOU report back your findings! Happy Sailing!

Visited July 2014
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Milan, Michigan
Top Contributor
125 reviews 125 reviews
26 attraction reviews
Reviews in 43 cities Reviews in 43 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
“An historical treasure on the Sunrise Side”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2014

We come to this museum almost every time we visit Alpena (where we have a cottage on a nearby lake). This is a very interesting and well-managed museum that pulls together not only the busy and tragedy-filled maritime history of region, but displays of local cultures, industries, and natural history. My favorite part is viewing the items rescued from the various vessels shipwrecked in the area. It gives you a view into their lives on the ships and a feel for the terrors they must have felt working the Great Lakes.

I am also impressed that every time I come to the Marine Sanctuary Museum there is more to see. They are always adding to their displays and offerings. The staff is knowledgeable and enjoy passing on their expertise to you. There's something here for everyone from young children to adults. That they offer this for free (donations accepted) is even better. I always give something because the work they do is important. There are very few National Marine Sanctuaries and we are lucky to have this gem in our fair state!

Take a couple hours to see this and if inclined, do it in conjunction with the Shipwreck glass bottom boat tour. Together, they really give you a great feel for the lives of those working the Great Lakes through the ages.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alpena, Michigan
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“underwater wonderland”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2014

The most interesting place if u like maritime heritage. Museum was awesome and free! Glass bottom boat to shipwrecks a must.

Visited June 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wausau, Wisconsin, United States
15 reviews 15 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Amazing shipwreck stories”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 18, 2014

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is largely undiscovered treasure in my hometown. Thunder Bay comes by its name naturally, and that has much to do with why there are hundreds of shipwrecks in the area. We have toured the museum/interpretive center several times, and also taken the glass bottom boat shipwreck tour out into the bay (for a fee). The boat ride changes depending on weather and the whim of the pilot--so many wrecks to see! The museum is masterfully done, the centerpiece being a recreation of a 19th century schooner set up to simulate the experience of sailing with cargo on the Great Lakes in a storm, in typically cramped conditions. There are many artifacts of the most recent wreck in the area, the Nordmeer, as well as the most famous, the Pewabic, and others--and much discussion of the new ethic of leaving artifacts in place. The only drawbacks to the experience: it needs more money to expand further (I would like to be able to add a little motion to the ship replica, for example); and docents wandering through the displays or leading tours might be helpful, although there is plenty of interpretive material.

Visited April 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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