Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

One of Michigan’s two treasured national lakeshores (the other being Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, stretches along the Lake Superior shoreline in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for 42 gloriously wild and scenic miles. Sandstone cliffs look over breathtaking expanses of Lake Superior, waterfalls gush and dilly-dally their way to the big lake and shallow Lake Superior rocky pools beg for a swim. And don’t forget the miles of forest, sand dunes and inland lakes. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is busiest in summer, but don’t overlook the other three seasons for skiing, color touring and wildflower viewing. This wonderful attraction makes a superb Northern Michigan vacation.

While the most popular sites of Pictures Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, are accessible by vehicle, expect long stretches of bumpy, dirt roads, followed by short foot paths. Before you set out anywhere in the park, stop at the main visitors center in Munising to find the information on (safely) getting the most out of this spectacular lakeshore:

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore/Hiawatha National Forest Interagency Vistors Center

Find it: 400 E. Munising Ave. (at the intersection of M28 and H-58) in Munising. 906.387.3700, nps.gov/piro

Scenic Attractions at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

 Pictured Rocks and the Miners Rock Area

The lakeshore is named for the towering (as high as 200 feet), pocked, craggy, mineral-stained limestone cliffs that run 15 miles along the Lake Superior shoreline. The most easily accessible place to view the Pictured Rocks is at the formation called Miners Castle

Find it: 6.5 miles east of Munising on Alger County Road (H-58), then five miles north on Miners Castle Road.  You’ll find the beautiful, sandy Miners Beach and Rivermouth area just a bit further north on Miners Castle Road.

Chapel Rock Area

The Chapel area is the sum of four spectacular parts: Chapel Falls, Chapel Lake, Chapel Rock and Chapel Beach–a quintessential Pictured Rocks spot where Chapel Lake tumbles 60 feet down rock ledges to a sandy Lake Superior beach. Chapel Rock is a craggy old monolith that was connected by an arch to the mainland until it broke in the 1940s.

Find it: 15 miles east of Munising off Alger County Road H-58, then about 5 miles north to the end of Chapel Road (drive), then 2.5 miles (hike) to Lake Superior.

Grand Sable Dunes

If rock formations take your breath away at the lakeshore’s west end, then at the east end expect to be awed by the Grand Sable Dunes, just west of Grand Marais. These dunes cover 5-square miles and rise 300 feet above Lake Superior.

Find them: A mile west of Grand Marais at the Sable Falls parking area.

Camping

Pictured offers both  rusting drive-in and back-country camping:

Rustic Drive-in Campsites

Sites are reserved on a first come first serve basis—so queue up early and file Plan B in your rucksack in case you don’t get a site. $14-1$16.

Hurricane River Campground: 21 sites.

Find it: 12 miles west of Grand Marais on H-58

Twelvemile Beach Campground: 36 sites on a sandy bluff above Lake Superior.

Find it:  15 miles west of Grand Marais off H-58

Little Beaver Campground: 8 campsites on an inland lake.

Find it: 20 miles northeast of Munising and 3 miles north of H-58

 

Backcountry Camping

Primitive backcountry sites are located every several miles along the North Country National Scenic Trail. Backcountry campers must apply in person at either the Interagency Visitor Center in Munising or the Grand Sable Visitor Center in Grand Marais. nps.gov/piro/planyourvisit/visitorcenter

Hiking

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a backpackers dream given that the North Country National Scenic Trail meanders the entire length of the lakeshore. At a number of spots along the trail you’ll be hiking along the ridge of towering cliffs–there are no barriers, so use caution.  Starting in Munising, the trail follows the cliffs high above Lake Superior. It gradually descends as it makes its way to its eastern end near the town of Grand Marais. On these lower elevations you’ll find idyllic and secluded rocky pools perfect for a a quick dip.

Pictured Rocks By Boat

Pictured Rocks Cruises lets you see the cliffs from the water. 906.387.2379

Glass Bottom Boat Tours . 906.387.4477

Want more waterfront camping?

Heading to the Upper Peninsula? Here are some ideas!

cornerstone: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

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