The Best Ways to Experience the Fall Season around Pictured Rocks

Fall colors in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore appear in September and usually peak by mid-October. PC: National Park ServiceFall colors in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore appear in September and usually peak by mid-October. PC: National Park Service

Home to hundreds of serene waterfalls, immaculate beaches, and deep forests, Michigan’s rural Upper Peninsula is the perfect place for nature lovers searching for a unique adventure.

Nestled along the turquoise waters of Lake Superior near the small city of Munising is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. 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 colors shows in the world.

Fall Cruise Tours: Fares & Schedule

With attractions like Tahquamenon Falls and Kitchitikipi nearby, the Pictured Rocks area is the place to be in the fall. Read on for how to experience the fall season near Pictured Rocks:

The Chapel Basin Loop, Melstrand

Hiking to Grand Portal on the Chapel Basin Loop in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. PC: Instagram user @charlotte_reader_Hiking to Grand Portal on the Chapel Basin Loop in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. PC: Instagram user @charlotte_reader_

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.

From the Water

A portion of the Pictured Rocks seen aboard a Pictured Rocks Cruises’ tour. PC: Instagram user @little_pioneerA portion of the Pictured Rocks seen aboard a Pictured Rocks Cruises’ tour. PC: Instagram user @little_pioneer

The best way to soak in the fall foliage around Pictured Rocks is by taking a tour along the lakeshore. Visit Munising, the park’s western gateway, and climb aboard a Pictured Rocks Cruises boat tour, where you’ll travel alongside the most visually stunning 40 miles of shoreline on the Great Lakes. Pictured Rocks Cruises offers tours through mid-October.

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Heading towards Lover’s Leap on a Pictured Rocks Kayaking tour. PC: Pictured Rocks KayakingHeading towards Lover’s Leap on a Pictured Rocks Kayaking tour. PC: Pictured Rocks Kayaking

For a bit more adventure, book a trip with Pictured Rocks Kayaking and see the most beautiful parts of the park as you paddle up close after launching into Lake Superior from a boat. The kayaking outfitter recently extended the end of its season and will operate tours until the end of September!

Why You’ll Love to Paddle Pictured Rocks

East Channel Lighthouse as seen from a Pictured Rocks Cruise during autumn. PC: @colerobertfisherEast Channel Lighthouse as seen from a Pictured Rocks Cruise during autumn. PC: @colerobertfisher

Both tours include the most iconic landmarks of Pictured Rocks including the Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse, Miners Castle, Chapel Rock, Lovers Leap, and more!

Near Waterfalls

Miners Falls. PC: Instagram user @soham_gokhaleMiners Falls. PC: Instagram user @soham_gokhale

The U.P. is home to all but one of Michigan’s waterfalls. Ranging in size from under 5 to 50 feet vertical drops, there are over 200 waterfalls in the U.P., with the PRNL home to several of them.

Miners Falls is the most powerful waterfall in the Pictured Rocks park. The 1.2-mile round-trip hike is a popular one and a great way to see some of the most treasured areas in the park due to the falls’ close proximity to Miners Beach and Miners Castle.

The Best Waterfalls of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Munising Falls. PC: Instagram user @cpxphotographyMunising Falls. PC: Instagram user @cpxphotography

Munising Falls is located at the western edge of the Pictured Rocks park and is arguably the most popular waterfall in the area. Located within the city limits of Munising off Sand Point Road.

By A Natural Spring

Kitch-iti-kipi or Kitch-iti-kipi or “The Big Spring”, Manistique, Michigan. PC: Instagram user @deftony83

After visiting Pictured Rocks, enjoy a short hour drive and see Michigan’s largest spring – Kitch-iti-kipi, also known as “The Big Spring.” Enjoy the gorgeous fall hues reflecting off the crystal clear waters of the spring on a self-guided raft while you glide across the spring – a must see!

The Upper Falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. PC: Jaymie DepewThe Upper Falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. PC: Jaymie Depew
Nicknamed “The Root Beer Falls” due to the unique, copper color of the water, Tahquamenon Falls consists of the Upper and Lower Falls. The Upper Falls is one the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. It’s more than 200 feet across with a drop of approximately 50 feet. Four miles downstream you’ll find the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island. A gorgeous place to see fall color and only a 1 ½ hour drive from Munising!

The Upper Peninsula is full of stunning fall color, and you won’t want to miss the amazing sights of Pictured Rocks. Kayak, cruise, or hike to take in the sights along Lake Superior’s shoreline now.

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