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Manistee's Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary

Protecting our natural resources is a priority here in Michigan, and thanks to our state parks, everyone can enjoy the woods, wildlife and fresh air. In 1988, the Michigan Audubon Society received a property gift from M.E. and Gertrude Gray, which became Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary. This 72-acre site sets upon high, sandy bluffs that overlook Lake Michigan. Here you can view over 150 different varieties of shrubs and trees–not all of which are native to Michigan. Lake Bluff Center is open daily from dawn to dusk, and offers maintained trails, beach access, restrooms and facility rentals.


In the 1930s, this land was home to some of the most delicious Michigan fruits, including sweet and sour cherries, apples, pears, plums, currents and gooseberries. During WWII, eggs, meat and dairy products were also produced…much of which was shared with friends and neighbors. After the war, stables were added and horses were abundant. Summer buggy rides and winter sleigh rides were common. Time took its toll on the orchards, and in the years following WWII, the orchards disappeared and were replaced with an abundance of trees, including Spruce, Pine, Birch, Oak, Maple, Ash and many more. In the 1960s, the Grays added a large indoor arena to house their Arabian horses; this lasted only a few years.

A lookout point at the sanctuary. | Manistee County Chamber of Commerce

The wetlands at Lake Bluff Center is the perfect home for such varieties as bald eagles, hawks, sea ducks, woodpeckers, and wild turkeys. The Lake Michigan shoreline is a good place to sit and watch many of these majestic birds.

Michigan Audubon’s bird sanctuary system protects over 5,000 acres in Michigan. 

Lake Bluff is a Bird Sanctuary & Animal Haven

Its goal is to promote understanding, awareness, and enjoyment of the environment. Many other species of animals also inhabit Lake Bluff Center. It’s not unusual to spot white-tailed deer along the trails, and monarch butterflies make their stop here on their migration to Mexico. Lake Bluff Center is a quiet place…one that most people find relaxing due to its serene natural habitat.


The giant Redwoods are the most interesting species of tree you’ll find at Lake Bluff Center. These trees arrived in Manistee as seedlings in 1949, and only three survived. Today, one of these redwoods rises 100 feet into the sky and boasts a diameter of up to 50 inches. In addition to the trees, today you’ll also find beautiful flowering plants, such as Hydrangeas, Lilacs, Dogwood, Lilies and Mums…offering the visitor a colorful scene from spring to fall. 

We are so lucky to have this special area of land preserved for all to enjoy. The trees, animals, birds, flowering plants and panoramic view make Lake Bluff Center a must-see for nature lovers.

For more information, please contact:

Michigan Audubon/Lake Bluff Center

2890 Lakeshore Rd., Manistee, MI 49660

(231) 723-4042

Lake Bluff Center

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