Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
The lakeshore offers towering multicolored sandstone cliffs, mile-long sparkling beach strands, dashing waterfalls, a huge area of sand dunes, inland lakes and streams and it’s all YOURS to explore!
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is managed by the National Park Service as one of only four national lakeshores. Just like an old-time quilt, this park, which is about the size of five Manhattan Islands, is also a mosaic of human history.
Historic sites include an 1874 lighthouse, early U.S. Coast Guard lifeboat stations, old farmsteads and a Civil War era iron blast furnace site. The lakeshore includes some fifteen miles of cliffs along its 40 mile length. Within the park, about 100 miles of trial lead to remote trout streams, secretive bogs, and a system of thirteen backcountry campsites.
The park is open year-round and is truly a four-season recreation destination with ice climbing, cross-country skiing and showshoeing, ice fishing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, sightseeing, birding, backcountry and vehicle-based camping. The list goes on!
To appreciate the lakeshore to its fullest, stop by one of the two visitor information centers in Munising Falls (year-round) and Grand Sable (summer only).
Formations Erode and Change
Gradual changes can be seen in the Grand Portal above. Its huge arch formation continues to erode causing the sandstone to fill in the archway below. Sometimes changes happen overnight. Miners Castle is probably the most recognizable formation of the Pictured Rocks and on 4/13/06 it lost one of its two towers or “turrets”. After falling into Lake Superior, it changed the appearance of the castle immensely.
Visitors are asked to be very careful when visiting, stay clear of the cliff edges, and please stay on the trails. Photo of Indian Head formation by Craig Blacklock.
The Munising Formation
These cliffs of limestone are existing today because of the lime/sand stone named the Munising Formation. This occurrenceis also responsible for the large amounts of waterfalls in the central part of the Upper Peninsula. This unique formation runs all the way from the Tahquamenon Falls to the Laughing Whitefish Falls. Many visitors and vacationers to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan enjoy the Pictured Rocks by Tour Boat. It is relaxing, educational, fun, and the views are breath taking. There are also fishing charter boats that can guide your way to a great catch on Lake Superior!
The Miners Castle formation is located within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore approximately 6.5 miles east of Munising, MI on Alger County Road H58. Then continue traveling 5 miles north on Miners Castle Road to the parking area. The visitors platform is just a short walk and provides ample opportunity for photography and viewing. Miners Castle is probably the most recognizable of all formations within the Pictured Rocks National Park and Lakeshore. There are plenty of interpretive exhibits at the Miners Castle area. In 2006, Miners Castle lost one of turrets caused by erosion.
Miners Beach is located approximately 6 1/2 miles east of Munising, MI. It is situated within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and is found on Alger County Road H58, then head 6 miles north on Miners Castle Road. This beautiful beach is perfect for swimmers, picnics and beach enthusiasts. Kid Rock also filmed his Music Video, “Born Free” here on the shores of Miners Beach – see our featured video for a sample of what you can expect when visiting! With over 73,000 acres of Lake Superior shoreline, this spot along the shore is a great place to relax and enjoy a very beautiful beach.
Chapel Falls is an 80 ft scenic waterfall located within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park. Its water is derived from Section Creek. There is a long hike to this waterfall – approximately one hour. Located within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park, this beautiful waterfall is located East of Miner’s Castle. Traveling West on H58 from Munising, MI, you will drive approximately 15 miles. About 1 1/2 miles past Melstrand, MI you will see a sign “Chapel Area” on your left. Stay to the right and follow the signs. You will need to hike approx 3 miles one way from the parking area.
Photo by Gina Harman of Velvet Green Creations.
The Grand Portal Point is a well known feature found within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It has gone through some major transformations since its first collapse in the year of 1900. This beautiful arch can be seen for miles because of its size and grandeur. This is a fantastic place for viewers from boat tours, kayakers, and pontoon boats. These remote areas are best kayaked with a guide or if your an expert. Grand Portal is the highest point along the Pictured Rocks and located a few miles North West from Munising, after the tour passes Mosquito Beach.
Indian Head is located along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This incredible formation indeed looks like a profile of a Native American, hence the name. Also, Native Americans came to this from many regions to trade goods and metals on Grand Island. This has been a place of legend and lore fore many years. Come and enjoy the over 73,000 acres of Lake Superior shoreline and National Park that make up this incredible natural wonder. This is best viewed by tour boat.
Twelve Mile Beach
Twelve Mile Beach is located within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and can be accessed at the Twelve Mile Beach Campground. This is located 16 miles west of Grand Marais, Michigan on Alger County Rd H58. This is a isolated beach found shortly after Spray Falls. This is a great place to visit, enjoy, relax and stroll along the sandy shores of Lake Superior.
Grand Sable Banks
The Grand Sable Banks rise some 300 feet above Lake Superior. On top of the banks lie the Grand Sable Dunes. The story of their origin is steeped in the frigid depths of the last ice age. Todays Grand Sable Banks formed as Lake Superior fell from its most recent high, about 500 years ago. As sand supply diminishes Jack pine and other conifers invade the plateau. A layer of topsoil once again begins to be deposited in the forest floor. Over centuries the level of Lake Superior has risen and fallen, undercutting the baser of the sand banks. Prevailing northwest winds have whipped the unstable sand upslope, piling it in dunes atop of the banks.
The Log Slide is located approximately 7 miles west of Grand Marais, MI. It is on Alger County Road H58. From there you will have to was almost a mile north on Log Slide Road. Lumberjack stories tell the tales of the Log Slide and how the chute would catch on fire from the generation of friction from the logs travelling down to the water. From this point, you can view the Grand Sable Banks and Dunes and its also a great place to view the top of the AuSable Light State just to the west of the Log Slide.