In my opinion Michigan is the best state in the whole country for metal detecting. I admit I have lived in Michigan my entire life, but I promise I’m not entirely biased. Michigan borders four of the five great lakes and has some of the largest publicly owned forests in the country! In addition to the nearly endless beaches and forest where one could metal detect, in Michigan you never know what you’re going to get. You can get anything from treasures left behind by lumber operations and copper mines to artifacts from Native American cultures who once inhabited the land. My favorite vacations have been traveling across the state to metal detect on the beaches of the great lakes.

I could go on and on about the many places that I’ve been metal detecting in Michigan, but for the purposes of this list I have distilled them down into just 15 locations of which I believe to be the best places to metal detect in Michigan.

1. Grand Haven State Park (Lighthouse Beach)

Given that Michigan borders 4 out of the 5 great lakes, it is no surprise that it has plenty of lighthouses. However, not all of Michigan’s lighthouses are open to the public, and not all of them have metal detector friendly policies. That is what makes Grand Haven State Park special. The park is located on the west side of Michigan’s lower peninsula at the opening of the Grand River on the coast of Lake Michigan. It is a 48-acre park which, besides its lighthouse, is made up completely of beach sand.

Metal Detecting Grand Haven State Park
Metal Detecting Grand Haven State Park

Grand Haven State Park also happens to be one of the 5 total state parks in Michigan that allow metal detecting on all portions of the park as long as it is conducted in a way that doesn’t damage the resources of violate any state laws. This is great for detectorists because the entire park is essentially a giant beach. Moreover, because there is a lighthouse the park is especially popular. This means that there is tons of foot-traffic and it’s all on the sand! It’s basically a perfect place to go looking for jewelry, coins, and other dropped treasures.

Where to Metal Detect at Grand Haven State Park


2. Huron-Manistee National Forests (Buried Treasure)  

Technically two separate national forests, the Huron and Manistee national forests are both located in the upper portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan and were combined for administrative purposes. Together they comprise 978,906-acres of land which is filled with thousands of lakes, and miles of rivers and streams. Portions of this land were former sites of logging camps and early settlers, now abandoned and overgrown with new forest. Furthermore, a section of the Manistee portion of the national forest is known as Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness. It is one of the few dune ecosystems that is nationally owned and therefore open to metal detector use.

Metal Detecting Tip: There’s nothing worst than the batteries dying in the middle of a hunt. Take it from me – Carry Extra Batteries!

Apart from the sheer size and uniqueness of these national forests, both of which are huge positives for detectorists, the forest also may hold a long forgotten buried treasure. That’s right, deep in the woods of the Huron portion of the national forest there may be half a million in buried gold coins. All of the stories of the treasure differ somewhat, however the most popular of them state that a payment of gold coins was in route to a lumber camp when the train was held up by robbers. According to the legend the robbers buried the gold in an iron stove somewhere on the shoreline of Benton Lake. The treasure has never been found and might still be out their waiting for some lucky detectorist to find it.

Where to Metal Detect in the Huron-Manistee Forest


3. Warren Dunes State Park (Tons of Foot-Traffic)

The Warren Dunes State Park is a series of huge sand dunes located near the most southwest portion of Michigan, bordering Lake Michigan. The park has a total of 1,952-acres of land and is one of the five most popular camping destinations in the state of Michigan. This is a pretty big achievement as camping is a highly popular recreational state, most of it done in the more northern portions of the state. The Warren Dunes are such a popular attraction that the park has over a million visitors every year. That’s a million people who come and potentially drop jewelry, coins, and any number of other things in the clean sand.

However, unlike some state parks in Michigan, metal detecting is not allowed in the entire park. The portions of the park which are open to metal detecting can be found, thanks to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, on the printable map linked below.

Warren Dunes Metal Detecting
Where to Metal Detect at Warren Dunes, MI

Map of areas open to metal detecting: http://www.michigandnr.com/publications/pdfs/RecreationCamping/metal-maps/warrendunes.PDF

Where to Metal Detect in Warren Dunes State Park


4. Antrim Creek Natural Area (Ghost Town)

Unlike the other locations on this list, the Antrim Creek Natural Area is not managed by national or state governments. Instead it is maintained by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy through the officials of Antrim county. However, it is very comparable to a state park in that it is comprised of 156-acres of land and even boasts an entire mile of shoreline on Lake Michigan. In fact, the area was originally designated as a port town given its proximity to the lake.

However, Old Antrim was a poor location for a port as the waters were shallow and only small watercraft could actually dock along the waterside. This didn’t stop a town from developing briefly, although eventually all of the residents eventually moved. All that is left are some foundations and small signs of previous habitation.

This would be a great place to metal detect as you might find some relics from the mid 1800’s. The land is open to hunting and pretty much all other forms of recreation, and the regulations listed on their website (which is linked below) don’t mention metal detecting.

Learn the Regulations for Antrim Creek Natural Area: https://www.gtrlc.org/recreation-events/property-rules-hunting-regulations/

Where to Metal Detect in Antrim Creek Natural Area


5. Ludington State Park (Ship Wreak Beach)

Home to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, the Ludington State Park would seem to be an unlikely place for shipwrecks, however more than one have been found in recent years either within the bounds of the park or very near to them. Apart from that, the park also has pretty much everything that can make a state park great.

The park is situated in between Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan, plus a mile of the Big Sable River runs through the park. But the impressive natural features don’t end there. The park has several miles of shoreline and even sand dunes bordered by marshlands and forests. All of this put together makes the Ludington State Park a big tourist destination with tons of foot-traffic every year.

Ship wreaks, although uncommon, can be found here as well as many other locations along the north-western portions of Michigan’s shoreline due to the rapid changes between very deep and very shallow waters. Ludington State park has plenty of other great attributes which makes it a perfect place to go metal detecting, but the possibility of finding relic from a centuries old ship wreak washed ashore is definitely a plus.

Areas of the park open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, linked below.

Where to Metal Detect at Ludington State Park

Ludington Atate Park is popular with ch scanners, but make sure your sweeping the right places. Fortunately the State of Michigan has a downloadable map. Find it Here – http://www.michigandnr.com/publications/pdfs/RecreationCamping/metal-maps/ludington.PDF


6. Hiawatha National Forest (Nearly 1 Million Acres of Searchable Land in the Upper Peninsula!!!)

The upper peninsula of Michigan is well known as one of the most naturally beautiful places in the entire world. Anywhere in the upper peninsula would be a great place to go metal detecting, but the Hiawatha National Forest is an especially great place due to its enormous size and unique geological features. The forest is 894,836-acres of land with over 100-miles of shoreline. The forest borders both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior with some portions on the eastside even bordering Lake Huron. Some portions are still used today for commercial lumber projects, however many now abandoned logging operations were conducted before the land was designated a national forest.

The extensive shorelines, abandoned logging operations, beautiful forests, and previous inhabitants of Native Americans all make the Hiawatha National Forest an amazing place to go looking for long forgotten relics. However, as I mentioned some portions are used for commercial operations and others are used by the forest service itself for things such as museums. Because of this, not all of the land is open to metal detecting. I recommend in general trying to stay away from areas where it looks like human activity is present.


7. Muskegon State Park (Two Miles of Beach on Lake Michigan)

The former site of the Ryerson Hill & Company lumber mill, the Muskegon State Park is a 1,233-acre plot of land situated on the eastern coast of Lake Michigan. The park has two miles of beachfront, although it also has sand dunes, hiking trails, and an Olympic-designated winter sports complex. This makes it a highly popular destination for both visitors and locals. It is the stereotypical great metal detecting beach with tons of foot-traffic and beautiful views.

Where to Metal Detect at Muskegon State Park

Areas of the Muskegon State Park open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources – http://www.michigandnr.com/publications/pdfs/RecreationCamping/metal-maps/muskegon.PDF


8. Traverse City State Park (One of Michigan’s most popular Resort Towns)

Officially known as the Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park, the park is 47-acres of land located on the southern shoreline of the East Grand Traverse Bay (a bay of Lake Michigan). The Traverse City State Park is one of the few state parks in Michigan that allow metal detecting on all portions of the park, both on the beach and in the campgrounds. It is also a highly popular camping destination as it is located in one of Michigan’s most visited resort towns. This of course means tons of foot-traffic, something that detectorists are always looking for.


9. Petoskey State Park (Home of the Michigan State Stone the Petoskey Stone)

The Petoskey State Park occupies land which was owned by William Wirt Rice and his tannery which he founded in the late 1800’s. Today, however, much of the 303-acre park is comprised of heavily vegetated sand dunes and a beach on the shores of Little Traverse Bay (a bay of Lake Michigan). The Petoskey stone, Michigan’s state stone, can be found on the parks beach, which makes this area a huge tourist destination. Tons of foot-traffic of visitors from all around the country come to this beach every year. Plus, in additional to their lost treasures, you might even find a few Petoskey stones!

Areas of the park open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, linked below.

Map of areas open to metal detecting:http://www.michigandnr.com/publications/pdfs/RecreationCamping/metal-maps/petoskey.PDF


10. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Largest State Park in Michigan)

Only the beaches of Union Bay (a bay of Lake Superior) are open to metal detecting in this immense 60,000-acre state park, however its other spectacular attractions bring plenty of foot-traffic to this beach every year. The park is home to the most extensive stand of old growth northern hardwood in North America, the Lake of Clouds, and even an abandoned copper mining town. Moreover, the park is filled with breathtaking waterfalls and views from the higher portions of the mountain. This is definitely a location which is good both because of the metal detecting opportunities and the other recreational activities that can be had in the area

Where to Metal Detect in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness

Areas of the Porkies open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources – http://www.michigandnr.com/publications/pdfs/RecreationCamping/metal-maps/porkies.PDF


11. Lakeport State Park. (Former United Auto Workers Retreat)

Lakeport State Park is one of the few places on this list that is located on the shores of Lake Huron. Because of its close proximity to the city of Detroit, the southern unit of the Lakeport State Park was formerly the location of the United Auto Workers Retreat. Today, it is one of the best places to go metal detecting on the east side of Michigan as it is one of the few state parks which allow metal detecting on all portions of the park. Whether you’re looking for treasures left in the mid twentieth century by auto workers, or just some jewelry left behind by the parks many visitors, the Lakeport State Park is a great destination for detectorists.


12. Mears State Park (Camp on the Beaches of Lake Michigan)

Formerly owned by the lumber baron Charles Mears, and officially known as the Charles Mears State Park, the Mears State Park is a 50-acre plot of land on the north side of the channel that connects Lake Michigan and Pentwater Lake. It is also one of the few places where you can actually camp on the shores of the great lake. It is a great metal detecting vacation location as metal detecting is allowed on all portions of the park, and the opportunity to camp with a view of a great lake is unbeatable in the state of Michigan. You are most likely to find coins, jewelry, and other things left behind by the parks many visitors. But you might just find a relic left behind from the days when it was inhabited by a lumber baron!


13. Brimley State Park (One of the Oldest State Parks in the Upper Peninsula)

Due to Brimley State Park being one of the oldest state parks in the upper peninsula of Michigan, it offers the special opportunity to search for objects left behind by visitors from all the way back to 1923 when the park was founded. It is 151-acres of land on the shores of Whitefish Bay (a bay of Lake Superior) and is particularly interesting to detectorist as metal detecting is allowed on all portions of the park. It isn’t as heavily trafficked as some of the other locations on this list, and so might be better for those who enjoy a private treasure hunting adventure.


14. Baraga State Park (Copper Nuggets)

The upper peninsula of Michigan, particularly the western areas, is known for having some of the largest deposits of naturally occurring copper in the world. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find public land that is open to metal detecting in this area. However, the Baraga State Park is one of these locations. While you are more likely to find coins or jewelry, it is possible that you could unearth a copper nugget. I recommend trying to find private land, or other such areas, in this area as copper deposits that are multiple tons in size have been found. It is always important to get the proper permissions for this kind of detecting, however.

Areas of the park open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, linked below.

Map of Areas Open to Metal Detecting in Baraga State Park

You can download directly from the State Baraga State Park here – http://www.michigandnr.com/publications/pdfs/RecreationCamping/metal-maps/baraga.PDF


15. Rifle River Recreation Area (Big Fisherman’s Retreat)

Only some small portions of this state park are open to metal detecting, but luckily the best location is the canoe launch which is designated as being open. The Rifle River Recreation Area is a 4,449-acre plot of land with upper portions of the popular Rifle River running through it. It is a very popular location for fisherman from every state in the Midwest, and therefore the canoe launch is one of the best locations to go metal detecting in Michigan.

Areas of the park open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, linked below.

Map of Areas Open to Metal Detecting in the Rifle River Recreation Area

You can download directly from the State of Michigan here – http://www.michigandnr.com/publications/pdfs/RecreationCamping/metal-maps/rifleriver.PDF


Metal Detecting Laws in Michigan

Michigan Metal Detecting Clubs

Favorite Metal Detecting Shops in Michigan

Tips for Metal Detecting in Michigan

  1. Consider getting a coil cover if you metal detect on rocky beaches.  Damaging a coil is expensive and an inexpensive cover will help your coil last.
  2. Consider using a waterproof metal detector so that you can detect in the many rivers and streams that Michigan has to offer. You might even find something in one of the great lakes!
  3. Always bring a sand scoop to the beaches and dunes of the great lakes. It’s saved me a ton of time on my metal detecting trips.
  4. If you go metal detecting in one of the National Forests make sure you don’t stray too far from the paths. It can be very easy to get lost in a million acres of woodland.

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David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.