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.
Why is it Called Pictured Rocks?
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.
1. Unique Access & Views: Cruising the Cliffs
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.
2. Awe-Inspiring Sunsets
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.
3. So Many Highlights
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.
4. Over 10 Gorgeous Waterfalls
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.
5. The Beautiful Sandy Beaches
6. The Grandest Island: Wild, Scenic & Serene
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
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.
8. You Can Kayak Through Sea Caves
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.