While the entirety of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is stunning, one of the biggest draws to the area is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Designated the first national lakeshore in the United States, the Pictured Rocks are encompassed by massive sandstone cliffs and formations that are painted with vibrant colors from minerals found in Lake Superior. The park also has gorgeous waterfalls, impressive sand dunes, and miles of serene recreational trails.
Under a 10-hour drive from the Pittsburgh area, here’s why a road trip to Pictured Rocks should be in your future:
Plan Your Road Trip
The Trip UP-
In Ohio, Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a must! Discover stories from rock’s earliest artists to those newly emerging musicians of today. In addition to the thousands of items on display, the exhibits feature films, video, interactive kiosks, reading material and, of course, plenty of music.
Your next stop should be the Henry Ford Museum! The large indoor and outdoor history institution complex and National Historic Landmark is in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, where you’ll learn about automotive history and some of the best technology in the world! Attractions include: Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour and Benson Ford Research Center.
Once you’re in the U.P. …
Tour the Pictured Rocks by Boat
Since the cliffs run along Lake Superior’s shoreline, it’s no surprise the park is best seen by water. Pictured Rocks Cruises – an authorized concessionaire of the National Park Service, which manages the national lakeshore – has provided tours for over 50 years. See the exquisite sights of Miners Castle, Lovers Leap, the East Channel Lighthouse, Grand Portal Point, and many more!
Tours depart in front of the Pictured Rocks Cruises’ office and gift shop near the city dock in downtown Munising. Open daily from 8 a.m. until the last boat returns to the dock from mid-May through mid-October. Book your trip online or by calling (906) 387-2379.
Discover 14 Waterfalls
Paddle Under Lovers Leap
In case you needed another reason to Paddle Pictured Rocks, near the end of the tour, you’ll reach Lover’s Leap. The popular archway is one of the most iconic and photographed formations in the Pictured Rocks Park – passing through it is certainly a magical memory you won’t soon forget. Your tour guide will treat you to even more lore, but according to an old Native American legend, a couple once jumped from the top of this landmark to convey their love.
Stargazing in the Pictured Rocks
Experience the Fall Colors
Although the lakeshore is a popular summer destination for travelers, rich shades of red, orange, and yellow blanket the thick treetops that surround the colorful sandstone cliffs in the fall, providing one of the best color shows in the world.
When you hike the Chapel Basin Loop, you’re guaranteed to see the best views of the Pictured Rocks by land. All hikes begin at the Chapel/Mosquito trailhead parking lot at the end of Chapel Road, approximately 15 miles northeast of Munising off Highway 58. Here, you’ll get to explore at least two beaches, waterfalls, and popular landmarks in the park, such as Chapel Rock and Grand Portal Point.
Bonus: boat and kayak tours are also offered in the fall!
Reservations Highly Recommended
The top stops and things to do on your road trip from Pittsburgh to Munising, Michigan: home to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This route could start in the Pittsburgh. It takes I-76 W past Cleveland and onto I-80 W up through Toledo and US-23 N through Ann Arbor. You’ll take I-75 N to pass over the Mackinac Bridge to US-2 and then arrive in Munising.