Exploring the Natural Wonders of Munising

It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland. It houses the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, a 95,212 acre haven of wilderness, swamps, islands and wildlife. It’s home to the Hiawatha National Forest, composed of a million transformed acres once devastated by forest fires. Most notably, it’s home to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This 73,000-acre tract of Lake Superior shoreline forms one of Michigan’s three beloved National Parks. Essentially, it has everything the traveler yearns for: country roads, expansive shorelines, deep blue water, lighthouses, shipwrecks, and trails upon trails for hiking and biking.

Welcome to the world of Munising, Michigan—a town of little more than 2,300 residents located on the northern coast of the Upper Peninsula. To unearth Munising’s most iconic natural wonders and must-do activities, we checked in with Kathy Reynolds, executive director of the Greater Munising Bay Partnership for Commerce Development and the Munising Downtown Development Authority.

Mineral seeps on sandstone cliffs between Miners and Mosquito Beaches, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan. © Craig Blacklock, from the book, Pictured Rocks

Mineral seeps on sandstone cliffs between Miners and Mosquito Beaches, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan. © Craig Blacklock, from the book, Pictured Rocks—From Land and Sea, available at blacklockgallery.com.

Munising’s natural wonders are its most prominent draw. Topping Reynolds’ list of must-see natural attractions is seeing Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore—by both water and land. Also at the top of the list is viewing one or more of the 15 waterfalls in the county, and visiting the Grand Island National Recreation Area. Since Pictured Rocks ranks as Munising’s top treasure, she shared her favorite stretches of the vast shoreline to hike including Chapel Loop, Beaver Basin and the North Country Trail.

Hiking is the most popular outdoor recreational activity in the region, but for those who wish they had webbed toes rather than hiking boots, she offers a superior activity on the Big Lake. The one tour that travelers to Munising just shouldn’t pass up is a Pictured Rocks Cruise, she advises: “Pictured Rocks Cruises is the most popular, and is the only authorized concessionaire of the National Park Service providing interpretive programming.”

Mineral seeps on cliffs between Miners and Mosquito Beaches, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan.

© Craig Blacklock, from the book, Pictured Rocks — From Land and Sea available at: blacklockgallery.com. Mineral seeps on cliffs between Miners and Mosquito Beaches, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan.

Trying to decide when you should schedule a tour? Reynolds suggests checking out Pictured Rocks Days—a festival in June, which features vendors, bands, outdoor activities, demonstrations, food and boatloads of fun. If you’re a Yooper, take advantage of the “Yoopers Ride Free Days” when you can catch a free ride on the Pictured Rocks Cruise.

We asked Kathy Reynolds for some words of wisdom on how best to bear a summer swim in Lake Superior. Her response? “Get in quick!”

 

Calling all National Park lovers! We want to publish your photos in the July 2016 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. More details here.

Article Comments

  • rick

    The colors on the rocks are from minerals leaching thru the sand stone. Red from iron ore, white from limestone, and greens from copper. If you get to Munising, take the tour. Well worth the money. I worked as a deck hand in my high school years.

  • Randi COOK

    Was there in the winter and rented snowmobiles years back. Have always wanted to return in the summer. ONE DAY!