Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore hugs forty miles of Lake Superior’s southern shore.  The park is nestled between Munising (to the west) and Grand Marais to the east. The lakeshore takes its name from the multicolored sandstone cliffs that tower above the surface of Lake Superior. These cliffs, which have significant geographic and scientific importance, get their colors from different minerals that seep out of the cracks in the stone, and leave behind distinctive color stains. The cliffs are two hundred feet high, and extend for more than 12 miles. The forces of nature have sculpted the cliffs into distinctive formations, such as: Miner’s Castle, Chapel Rock, Grand Portal, and Indian Head.

But the picturesque sandstone cliffs are not the only thing to see at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Visitors also get the chance to see 17 waterfalls, 6 shipwrecks, and 8 lighthouses. Moreover, the park contains approximately 100 miles of trails, 14 backcountry campgrounds, and 3 drive-in campgrounds.

History: Pictured Rocks officially became America’s first National Lakeshore on October 15, 1966.  In 1972, Pictured Rocks received 271, 575 visitors.  By 2004, that number had grown to almost 400,000.  The dramatic increase in annual visitors sparked the implementation of several changes and improvements, such as the installation of modern restroom facilities, informational visitor centers, and updated trail systems.  Despite these changes, “[the] true value of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore rests in the lands, resources, and history it preserves for future generations.”

What is the best time to go? The answer to this question really depends on what you want to see. The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, according to the website: “In the spring, wild flowers bloom in great profusion…The summer brings pleasantly warm weather and abundant sunshine. Autumn boasts a colorful display as the hardwood forest changes color. A month of snow sets the stage for winter activities.”

Park visitors should be forewarned that, due to snow, some areas may not be accessible during winter. Also, the various visiting centers and information centers have varying hours of operation, as do the lighthouses. For more complete information, please visit the park’s official website.

What activities are available? This depends on what season you visit.  Spring activities include nature photography and fishing.  In summer, popular activities include picnicking, camping, hiking, and boating. Summer visitors can also enjoy a day relaxing at Twelvemile Beach, or hiking up to Spray Falls. Autumn is a prime time for hunting in the woods at the northern end of the park.  If visiting in winter, activities include cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and snowshoeing.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers something for everybody.  Form hiking to camping, sightseeing to water activities, you will certainly enjoy your time at this pristine natural reserve.  Overall, a visit to this historic National Lakeshore is an absolute must for people living in the Lake Superior area of Michigan.

Most of the information featured in this article can be found on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore’s official website.  Another source for additional information is the website of the Munising Visitor’s Bureau.