The National Lakeshore in Summer. Photo courtesy of Tim Trombley.
Dazzling waterfalls. Scenic overlooks and beaches. Unforgettable boat cruises and kayak trips. Stunning sandstone formations and dunes. When planning a trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you’ll discover there’s plenty of exciting things to do in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Whether you have young children or seniors in your group, Pictured Rocks is a perfect trip for the entire family.
The Colors of Pictured Rocks. Photo courtesy of Tim Trombley.
The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore extends 42-miles along the gorgeous shores of Lake Superior and offers miles of beaches and enormous sand dunes, spectacular waterfalls and lighthouses, and over 100 miles of trails that lead to remote lakes, streams, and serene forests. Designated the first National Lakeshore in the United States, the park’s name derives from minerals that stain the rock face of sandstone cliffs that tower 50 to 200 feet along miles of shoreline. Gorgeous hues of red, blue, white and green from minerals like iron, copper, manganese, and limonite, stain the sandstone and illuminate off the magical turquoise water.
Check out these top family-friendly activities when exploring the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore:
Get on the Lake
Two Pictured Rocks Cruises on Lake Superior. Photo courtesy of Tim Trombley.
The best way to see the Pictured Rocks cliffs and sandstone formations is by boat. Visit Munising, the park’s western gateway, and climb aboard the Pictured Rocks Cruises or book a guided kayak tour with Pictured Rocks Kayaking where you’ll see the most visually appealing parts of the park.
Pictured Rocks Cruises: Amazing Sights for Any Age
Pictured Rocks Cruises is an authorized concessionaire of the NPS and has offered tours of the cliffs and sandstone formations for over 50 years. The Cruises offers three narrated tours for guests: the Classic Cruise, the Spray Falls Cruise, and the Sunset Cruise. The high-speed catamaran used for Spray Falls Cruises offers the easiest indoor accommodations for wheelchairs. All tours are great for kids, as tickets for children 6-12 are $10 and those for 5 and under are just $1.
If you’re looking for an activity that’s more physically demanding but offers similar sights, book a trip with Pictured Rocks Kayaking, the only kayaking outfitter in the area that provides offshore launching. Guests with Pictured Rocks Kayaking travel along the lakeshore aboard a kayak-launching vessel and are set afloat where the most notable scenery in the park begins. Since the launch boat follows you as you paddle, you’ll always be within a reasonable distance of restrooms and emergency help. It’s a fantastic way to bond with any family members that are comfortable paddling a kayak!
Waterfall as seen from Pictured Rocks Cruise. Photo courtesy of Craig Blacklock.
There are over 20 waterfalls found in the Munising area, with several located in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore! While many of the waterfalls are accessible by a short walk – making them especially easy for seniors or small children to get to, others are deeper in the park and require more effort. Popular waterfalls that have easy access are Munising Falls, Alger Falls, Miners Falls and Wagner Falls. After obtaining a waterfall guide and map at the Fuzzy Boyak Welcome Center in Munising, you’ll be all set for a tranquil adventure in the pristine area.
Check out the Sights
Hiking to Miners Castle. Photo courtesy of Tim Trombley.
Walk one of many self-guided nature trails in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and see a vast array of nature and wildlife. The half-mile accessible boardwalk at the Sand Point Marsh Trail meanders through cattail marsh, open bog, spruce-tamarack swamp, and white cedar wetlands. This trail is close to Sand Point Beach – a popular swimming area that also has several picnic tables and metal fire rings where families may barbeque.
Another must see destination is Miners Castle, perhaps the most famous landmark along the Pictured Rocks shoreline that can be seen by water and land. Erosion over time created the interesting rock formation that give this place its name. Trails to all overlooks are paved and easy to reach.
Miners Beach, which is near Miners Castle, offers gorgeous views of Lake Superior and the Pictured Rocks as well. There’s also a wheelchair accessible boardwalk that leads from the parking lot to the staircase down to the beach.
Another popular area to visit with the family in the Pictured Rocks park is the Log Slide overlook, where you can see enormous sand dunes that tower atop the 300-foot high Grand Sable Banks. These magnificent sand dunes are located just west of Grand Marais, the park’s eastern gateway. Just a suggestion, though – make sure to take the scenic drive along H-58 east from Munising to Grand Marais.
Don’t miss out on the adventure! Kayak, cruise, or hike to take in the sights along Lake Superior’s shoreline now.
Our top priority at Pictured Rocks Cruises is to guarantee the safety of our employees, community and patrons. With that said, all Pictured Rocks Cruises tours are cancelled until June 15th, 2020 due to COVID-19. We apologize for any inconvenience and will gladly refund the full cost of any reservations. Check back in the coming weeks for the latest updates. Until then, keep following the health guidelines provided by the CDC and the state/federal government.