Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Miles of Nature's Beauty
Unique to our area and by far our largest summer attraction is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The name “Pictured Rocks” comes from the streaks of mineral stain that can be seen on the face of the weathered-sculpted cliffs. An array of colors occur when groundwater seeps through the cracks and trickles down the rock face. Iron (red and orange), copper (blue and green), manganese (brown and black), limonite (white) are among the most common color-producing minerals.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is managed by the National Park Service as one of only four National Lakeshores. The Pictured Rocks tower 50 to 200 feet directly from Lake Superior and stretch for about fifteen miles along its 42-miles length. In addition to the Pictured Rocks, the lakeshore also offers 12 miles of beautiful beaches, nearly five miles of enormous sand dunes, several waterfalls, and lighthouses. Within the park, over 100 miles of trail lead to remote lakes, streams, and forest to explore.
The park is open year-round and is truly a four-season recreation destination with ice climbing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, sightseeing, birding, backcountry and vehicle-based camping. The list goes on!
Words cannot fully describe the beauty of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. To help yo to appreciate the lakeshore to its fullest, while in town stop by one of the Visitor Information Centers in Munising or Grand Marias, visit NPS.gov/piro or call the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Visitors Center at 906-387-3700.
Formations Erode and Change
Gradual changes can be seen in the Grand Portal. 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.
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.
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.
Kayaking the Shores of Gitchee Gumee
Gitchee Gumee, the Ojibwa (Native American) name for Lake Superior, has inspired all who have stood on her shores or paddled her waters.
Miles of colorful sandstone cliffs 50-200 feet high rise from Lake Superior’s rugged shoreline and long stretches of white sand beach invite kayakers to explore the beautiful Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Kayakers can explore the many coves and view shipwrecks in the crystal clear waters of Lake Superior.
There are a number of “put-in points” along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore including Sand Point, Twelvemile Beach, Hurricane River, Miner’s Beach, Grand Island Landing, Anna River and the Munising boat launch.
Please note: Because the conditions on Lake Superior can change quickly, it’s always a good idea to have a guide if you are a beginner.
Kayak Rentals and Excursions
Pictured Rocks Kayaking
1348 Commercial Street, Munising, MI 49862
(906) 387-5500 – Website
Uncle Ducky Outdoors
1331 M-28 West, Munising, MI 49862
(906) 387-1695 – Website