My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

My vacation in the UP, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by land

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a U.S. National Lakeshore on the shore of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, United States. It extends for 42 miles (67 km) along the shore and covers 73,236 acres (114 sq mi; 296 km2). The park offers spectacular scenery of the hilly shoreline between Munising, Michigan and Grand Marais, Michigan, with various rock formations like natural archways, waterfalls, and sand dunes.

Pictured Rocks derives its name from the 15 miles (24 km) of colorful sandstone cliffs northeast of Munising. The cliffs are up to 200 feet (60 m) above lake level. They have been naturally sculptured into shallow caves, arches, formations that resemble castle turrets, and human profiles, among others. Near Munising visitors also can view Grand Island, most of which is included in the Grand Island National Recreation Area and is preserved separately.

The U.S. Congress made Pictured Rocks the first officially-designated National Lakeshore in the United States in 1966.

This will be the first of two posts that I do on the Pictured Rocks area, this one will cover what I saw while hiking, the second one will show more of the cliffs that give the park its name as seen from a tour boat.

I’ll start at the east end of the park, near Grand Marais, Michigan and work west to Munising, Michigan, which is where I boarded the tour boat.

So, first up, the Grand Sable dunes. The Grand Sable Dunes, at the eastern end of the Lakeshore, are a perched dune formation. Sand washed ashore by wave action was then blown up slope by northerly prevailing winds until it came to rest atop a glacial moraine. The Grand Sable Dunes today form a sand slope that rises from Lake Superior at a 35° angle. The summits of the tallest dunes are as high as 275 feet (85 m) above lake level.

Grand Sable Dunes

Grand Sable Dunes

Grand Sable Dunes

Grand Sable Dunes

Sable Falls – Sable Falls tumbles 75 feet (23 m) over several cliffs of Munising and Jacobsville sandstone formations on its way to Lake Superior.

Sable Falls trailhead

Sable Falls trailhead

Sable Falls

Sable Falls

Sable Falls

Sable Falls

The Au Sable Light Station was built in 1874 on Au Sable Point, a well known hazard on Lake Superior’s “shipwreck coast”. The Au Sable Point reef is a shallow ridge of sandstone that in places is only 6 feet (1.8 m) below the surface and extends nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) into Lake Superior. The Au Sable Point reef was one the greatest dangers facing ships coasting along the south shore of Lake Superior during the early shipping days when keeping land in sight was the main navigational method. The Au Sable Point reef was known as a “ship trap” that ensnared many ships, including the passenger ship Lady Elgin which was stranded there in 1859.

The shoreline in this area is considered one of North America’s most beautiful, “but in the 1800s it was considered one of the most deadly because of unpredictable features below the surface and violent storms and blinding fogs above.” The reef extends nearly a mile out as a ridge of sandstone a few feet below the surface. The shallow water caught many a vessel following the shore. Turbulence was common when the lake was “pushed in by violent storms out of the north and northwest.” Thick fogs resulted form the mix of frigid lake air and warmth from the sand dunes. “As early as 1622, French explorers called the region ‘most dangerous when there is any storms’.”

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Miners Falls drops 50 feet (15 m) over the sandstone outcrop.

Miner's Falls

Miner’s Falls

Chapel Falls cascades some 60 feet (18 m) down the sandstone cliffs on its way to Chapel Lake.

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Miner’s Castle.

Miner's Rock

Miner’s Castle

Miner's Castle

Miner’s Castle

Munising Falls, a 50 feet (15 m) waterfall over a sandstone cliff.

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

I’ll include a map and more details when I do the second post, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore as seen from the tour boat.

Here are links to the previous posts I’ve done on my vacation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

My vacation in the UP, the highlights

My vacation in the UP, Sunrise, sunset

My vacation in the UP, the bridges

My vacation in the UP, Tahquamenon Falls State Park

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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16 responses

  1. Wonderful pics.. thanks so much for sharing ♥

    October 3, 2013 at 3:21 am

    • Thank you, it was my pleasure!

      October 3, 2013 at 3:23 am

  2. What luck to have so many waterfalls within reach! With such beautiful places to choose from I think I’d have a hard time choosing, but so far the Munsing falls are where I’d spend at least a couple of days, shooting them at sunrise and sunset for the different lighting. They are beautiful!

    October 3, 2013 at 6:22 am

    • Thanks Allen! I don’t know if I should tell you this or not, but, Munising Falls are in the small town of Munising. They sit in a small pocket of undeveloped park within the city limits.

      October 3, 2013 at 8:48 am

      • Wow-it’s hard to believe they leave something so beautiful undeveloped. They could bring in a lot of tourist dollars if they promoted the falls. Personally, I’m glad that they don’t.

        October 4, 2013 at 6:50 am

      • In Michigan, we’ve learned that we can bring in more tourist dollars by leaving nature’s beauty undeveloped. Tourism is the third largest segment of our economy, behind the auto industry and agriculture.

        October 4, 2013 at 8:29 am

  3. Hubby and I were just talking about the U.P. yesterday. We agreed if a trip to Illinois is warranted…..we would only return if we could incorporate a trip to the U.P. and Mackinac Island. Lovely photos!

    October 3, 2013 at 11:02 am

    • Thanks, but why would any one willingly travel to Illinois? 😉

      October 3, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      • Ah….the call of family could be the ONLY reason and I assure you it isn’t willingly….lol.

        October 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

  4. I am really envious of your rich supply of waterfalls.

    October 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm

  5. Really gorgeous country, love the pictures.

    October 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm

  6. Pingback: My vacation in the UP, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by boat | Quiet Solo Pursuits

  7. Another outstanding collection from your vacation. You need to get out on vacation more often. They’re beautiful!

    October 6, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    • Thanks! Would you like to tell my boss that? Maybe he’d give me another vacation. 😉

      October 6, 2013 at 9:19 pm

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