In the coming years, Sue Reece, a ranger at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, expects to see trails improved and expanded, bridges refortified and seasonal maintenance staff added to the 73,000-acre Upper Peninsula gem that became the country’s first national lakeshore in 1966.
The upgrades and the personnel will come via visitor entrance fees that launched at Pictured Rocks for the first time in March.
“All the entrance fees that we collect in the park go directly to enhancing a visitor’s experience,” said Reece, the property’s chief of interpretation and education. “It’s to improve our trails, improve our campgrounds and fix our visitor centers.
“All of these things are for future public use and enjoyment.”
National park policy requires entrance fees to stay locally and be a supplemental way to build resources at the public properties. All other funding for basic park operations comes through direct appropriations from Congress, and that financing has gone largely unchanged despite an explosion of popularity at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
“People have awakened to the joy of being outdoors,” said Cori-Ann Cearley, president of the Munising Convention and Visitors Bureau. “People have invested in recreational tools – they’ve bought kayaks, they’ve bought bikes and hiking boots and they want to continue using them.
“Federal funding is limited and these entrance fees are going to allow (the park) to cover project fees that are just going coming from the federal government.”
The fee is meant to be “as painless as possible,” Reece said, and will be phased in over a three-year period. Here is a look at how the fees are being implemented:
March 1, 2022
- Per person walking, bicycling, or boating (good for 7 continuous days): $5.00
- Seven-day motorcycle pass: $10.00
- Seven-day vehicle pass: $10.00
- Pictured Rocks Annual Pass (good for 12 months): $20.00
- Commercial Vehicle fees are based on seating capacity and run from $25 to $100.
Effective January 1, 2023
- Per person walk, bicycle, or boat-in (good for 7 continuous days): $10.00
- Seven-day motorcycle pass: $15.00
- Seven-day vehicle pass (covers entrance fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle): $20.00
- Pictured Rocks Annual Pass (good for 12 months): $30.00
Effective January 1, 2024
- Per person walk, bicycle, or boat-in (good for 7 continuous days): $15.00
- Seven-day motorcycle pass: $20.00
- Seven-day vehicle pass: $25.00
- Pictured Rocks Annual Pass (good for 12 months): $45.00
Park users will be able to pay online prior to entering Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, at visitor centers inside the park and via a QR code that will be posted at strategic locations throughout the park that overlooks Lake Superior.
The National Park Service will have free entrance on the following dates in 2022:
- Thursday, August 4 – Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- Saturday, September 24 – National Public Lands Day
- Friday, November 11 – Veterans Day
The park, which is known for its dramatic and colorful sandstone cliffs along Lake Superior, saw a record-setting 1.3 million visitors in 2021. There are over 100 miles of hiking trails that culminate with sights of heart-stopping panoramic beauty, including the lakeside cliff-top views, sandy beaches, waterfalls and old growth forests.
The property spans 43 miles of coastline and is open year-round for non-motorized outdoor adventures.
AFTER THE ADVENTURE: Here’s where to grab a bite to eat in Munising.