I don't know about you, but when I hear the word "petroglyph" I think of ancient civilizations in Egypt or natives from the deserts out west-- not my own backyard of Michigan.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that Michigan does in fact have a collection of historical petroglyphs and they're believed to be between 300 to 1000 years old!

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What is a Petroglyph?

Per Wikipedia a petroglyph is defined as, "an image created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, or abrading, as a form of... art." Quite literally the word petro + glyph means "rock art".

Petroglyphs in the Mitten

Referred to by the Michigan History Center as, "Michigan’s largest known collection of early Native American teachings carved in stone" the carvings are called Ezhibiigaadek Asin. In the native Anishinaabemowin language this translates to "written on stone", which seems very fitting!


An indigenous language of Michigan, Anishinaabemowin is the language of the Anishinaabeg who are comprised of the  Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatomi tribes. According to Michigan State University, this language is part of the Algonquian language family and is spoken throughout Michigan, Wisconsin,  Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and parts of Canada like Québec and Saskatchewan.

UTRMichigan via YouTube
UTRMichigan via YouTube

Where Can I Find the Petroglyphs?

Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park can be found near Cass City, which is located in "the Thumb" just south of Bad Axe. The 240 acre park is open to visitors year-round with the enclosure surrounding the petroglyphs open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, from May 25 through September 4.

The part that I love most is that the petroglyphs are free to view, and the park itself doesn't even require a recreation passport like most of Michigan's state parks! I certainly want to make the trip over to the Thumb to see these petroglyphs with my own eyes. Pure Michigan never ceases to amaze me!

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