One of Michigan’s two treasured national lakeshores (the other being Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore 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 any time of year.
While the most popular sites of Pictures Rocks National Lakeshore are accessible by vehicle, expect long stretches of bumpy, dirt roads, followed by short footpaths. 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. The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore/Hiawatha National Forest Interagency Vistors Center is located at 400 E. Munising Ave. (at the intersection of M28 and H-58) in Munising. 906.387.3700.
Scenic Attractions at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
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 at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
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 at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
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
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 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?
- Try Coastal Camping on Lake Michigan
- Camp on Arbutus Lake and its chain of lakes
- Wake up to water views from an island when you Hop the Ferry to South Manitou
- Check out these sweet little state campgrounds at Twin Lakes and Fife Lake
- Majestic water views and beaches among the cliffs are found in these Four Long Weekend Trips to Pictured Rocks
- Kayak and Camp the Manistee River
- Pitch a tent on Grand Isle, a Lake Superior Gem
Heading to the Upper Peninsula? Here are some ideas!
- In the Wolf’s Jaw on Lake Superior
- Video: A Day Unfolds on a Lake Superior Beach
- The Birders of Whitefish Point
- Iron Mountain Italian
- Seduced by the U.P.’s Sylvania
- Kayaking Lake Superior’s Shoreline
- Cruise the Straits
- Grand Island’s Big Beauty
cornerstone: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan