Pictured Rocks: The Gem of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Pictured Rocks National LakeshorePictured Rocks National Lakeshore. PC: Instagrammer @somedayisnow_rtw

Sandstone cliffs towering 50 to 200 feet along Lake Superior’s pristine shoreline, stretches of white sandy beaches, dunes, and breathtaking formations and mineral stained rock face – the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula provides some of the most incredible sights in the world. It’s no wonder it’s consistently rated a top vacation spot in the United States.

Munising is the western gateway to the park, offering narrated boat and kayak tours that show you the most stunning parts of the national lakeshore. Read on to for the 8 reasons why Pictured Rocks is a true gem of the Upper Peninsula.

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Why is it Called Pictured Rocks?

The colors of the cliffsThe colors of the cliffs. PC: Craig Blacklock

Pictured Rocks got its namesake from the minerals that stain the rock face of the 50 to 200 feet sandstone cliffs along miles of pristine Lake Superior shoreline. Vibrant hues of red, blue, white and green color the cliffs from minerals like iron, copper, manganese, and limonite, and reflect off the turquoise water that surrounds them.

10 Breathtaking Photos of Pictured Rocks

1. Unique Access & Views: Cruising the Cliffs

Cruising along the national lakeshoreCruising along the national lakeshore. PC: Munising Visitors Bureau

Delighting passengers along the gorgeous shoreline as the oldest tour company in Munising, Pictured Rocks Cruises operates every day from early May to mid-October. View the brilliantly colored cliffs, sea caves, waterfalls and see famous landmarks like Lovers Leap, Miners Castle, Chapel Rock, and Grand Island’s East Channel Lighthouse aboard one of their 2 to 2 1/2-hour-long tours.

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2. Awe-Inspiring Sunsets

Battleship RowBattleship Row during a Sunset Cruise Tour. PC: Instagrammer @n.e.traveler

Of course, like anything on the water, Pictured Rocks looks absolutely spectacular at sunset. The angle of the national lakeshore is what makes it particularly special. Yellow, orange, and red rays reflect off both Lake Superior and the imposing cliffs and intriguing rock formations. It’s especially beautiful to see beams of light sparkling on the tumbling waters of Spray Falls.

The Spray Falls Sunset Tour

3. So Many Highlights

East Channel LighthouseEast Channel Lighthouse. PC: Instagrammer @maymiejameson

The national lakeshore almost literally has too many highlights to list. Bridalveil Falls, Chapel Cove, and Battleship Row. Chapel Rock, Grand Portal, and Rainbow Cave. Then, if you go a little farther along the lakeshore is additional, remote waterfall – Spray Falls.

Luckily, the easiest (and some say best) way to see these icons is from the water. Pictured Rocks Cruises offers 3 tours for guests: the Classic Cruise, the Spray Falls Cruise, and the Sunset Cruise.  Each tour offers intimate views of the East Channel Lighthouse on Grand Island, Miners Castle, Lovers Leap — along with the landmarks we mentioned and some that we don’t even have space to.

Everything You Need to Know About Pictured Rocks Cruises

4. Over 10 Gorgeous Waterfalls

Spray Falls, Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreSpray Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. PC: Tim Trombley

You don’t have to travel far in the U.P. to find stunning waterfalls … the area is home to hundreds of them! With its proximity to the Great Lakes and countless streams and creeks, it’s no wonder the rural area is overflowing with these gorgeous sights. Several of the falls can even be found within the Pictured Rocks.

The Top 7 Waterfalls of the Pictured Rocks

5. The Beautiful Sandy Beaches

Upper Peninsula Gem - Sand Point Beach, Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreSand Point Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. PC: Instagrammer @maymiejameson

Surrounded by Lake Superior, there are countless pristine beaches for you, your family, and friends to enjoy in the Munising area, with more than five in the Pictured Rocks!

Pictured Rocks Cruises | Fares & Schedule

6. The Grandest Island: Wild, Scenic & Serene

Grand Island Recreational AreaGrand Island Recreational Area. PC: Munising Visitors Bureau

Take a 5-minute ferry ride from Munising to historic Grand Island! It’s the perfect place to spend a day or even a few hours hiking, biking, fishing, and exploring. The island provides a combination of rugged dirt trails and gravel roads that will accommodate any level of adventurer. You can camp beneath a gorgeous starry northern sky or stay in one of the rustic cabins on the island.

7. Hundreds of Miles of Trails

Chapel RockChapel Rock PC: Instagrammer @maymiejameson

Whether you’re looking for a short walk, a day-long excursion, or a backpacking experience, Pictured Rocks has some of the best trails in the world. Nearby Hiawatha National Forest also has a slew of hiking and biking options for adventure seekers.

How to Experience the Beauty of
Pictured Rocks by Trail

8. You Can Kayak Through Sea Caves

Paddling through cavesPaddling through caves. PC: Pictured Rocks Kayaking

Glide through sea caves! With Pictured Rocks Kayaking, paddlers take in the beauty of the park during a relaxing boat ride before being launched into the water to kayak near gigantic archways, formations and through sea caves. The boat anchors near the Painted Coves where staff helps launch paddlers into the water for five miles (approximately 2 hours) of kayaking.

Why You Need to Take a Kayak Tour of Pictured Rocks

How Do I Get There?

MunisingMunising. PC: Munising Visitors Bureau

Nothing says adventure like hitting the open road. Or fly into Sawyer International Airport, which is conveniently located in the central U.P. and a 45-minute drive to Munising, where your Pictured Rocks adventure awaits!

Planning Your Pictured Rocks Adventure

It’s an Upper Peninsula Gem: So Remember to Plan Ahead

The Fuzzy Boyak Welcome CenterThe Fuzzy Boyak Welcome Center. PC: The Alger County Chamber of Commerce/Fuzzy Boyak.

It’s always a good idea to book your trip to Munising and buy your tickets ahead of time. Need help finding lodging options in this Upper Peninsula gem? Call the Alger County Chamber of Commerce at (906) 387-2138!