Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore features sandstone cliffs, sea caves and formations that soar 50 to 200 feet above the immaculate Lake Superior shoreline, miles of white sandy beaches and dunes, an amazing trail system, and magical waterfalls.
As the oldest tour company in Munising, Pictured Rocks Cruises offers daily trips to the best parts of the national lakeshore from mid-May to mid-October. Passengers are treated to stunning views of the colorful cliffs and sea caves that are stained by lake minerals, waterfalls, and other iconic landmarks.
Lasting between 2 to 2 1/2 hours, each boat tour provides ample time to enjoy the breathtaking shoreline. While all points of interests in the Pictured Rocks are worth exploring, here are the top highlights of a Pictured Rocks Cruises tour:
Grand Island’s East Channel Lighthouse
Since 1867, the East Channel Lighthouse has illuminated the path for incoming ships into Munising Bay. Situated along the southeast coast of Grand Island, the lighthouse is privately owned so you can only view it from the water. All Pictured Rocks Cruises’ tours sail by the beacon, giving passengers plenty of time to photograph the beautiful structure.
While Miners Castle is the easiest formation in the Pictured Rocks park to access by land, seeing it from the water can’t be beaten. The formation initially had two turrets on top of it, making it appear like a natural castle. However, due to erosion over time, one of them plummeted into the lake in 2006.
Although Bridalveil Falls can be viewed from the distance of the lower Miners Castle overlook or from the west end of Miners Beach, you’ll cruise right by it on a boat tour. However, being a seasonal waterfall, it typically dwindles to a trickle by mid-summer.
Grand Portal Point
Grand Portal Point was once an archway so vast that boats could sail through it. Unfortunately, the formation crumbled in 1906. Towering at 300-feet, it’s still a breathtaking site to enjoy in person.
Spray Falls tumbles 70 feet over cliffs before cascading into Lake Superior. Just beneath the falls, 20 feet underwater, lies the wreckage of the “Superior” ship that sank in 1856. To catch a glimpse of this magnificent waterfall, book the Spray Falls Cruise.
This stunning remnant of Cambrian age sandstone was carved by high water some 3,800 years ago and was dubbed Chapel Rock by French explorers. There once was an archway connecting the rock to the mainland, but it collapsed in the 1940s. The lone white pine growing from atop Chapel Rock is estimated to be about 250 years old.
The Best Sunsets
Embarking late in the day, the Sunset Cruise offers a stunning view of the Pictured Rocks cliffs bathed in the setting sun’s warm glow. Passengers can cherish the unforgettable experience of a picturesque Lake Superior twilight and a delightful evening all in one.