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

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

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

Pictured Rocks Cruises offers daily trips from Memorial Day weekend through October 10.

Sea kayaking is a popular method of exploring the park. While this may be the best way to see the natural formations, it is a serious trip in dangerous and cold water, which should not be undertaken lightly or without proper equipment. Guides are available. The most efficient port of entry to Pictured Rocks, for a sea kayak, is from the harbor at Munising.

I’ll start with a photo of one of the other tour boats that we passed as we were headed back to port.

Pictured Rocks tour boat

Pictured Rocks tour boat

Now, it’s the photos of the Pictured Rocks themselves, in no particular order. I shot well over 200 photos, whittling that number down to 40 for this post was extremely difficult.

Pictured Rocks

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Bridalveil Falls

Spray Falls

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Here’s a map that covers the area.

PRNL

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

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

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

19 responses

  1. Makes me want to go back. Tried to go there years ago and the boat had engine trouble and we had to turn back. Also have thought a sea kayak would be a great way to see the area but only on the right day.

    October 5, 2013 at 5:45 am

    • Thanks Robert! If I had known that Lake Superior was going to be as calm as it was, I would have brought my kayak.

      October 5, 2013 at 9:58 am

  2. This is such a beautiful place and you got some great shots of it. I love the waterfalls and I’d like to roam around on top of the cliffs for a day or two. Judging by all the fallen rock I’m not sure I’d want to get too close to those cliff faces in a kayak though.

    October 5, 2013 at 7:52 am

    • Thanks Allen! You’d be in luck if you were to visit the area, the North Country trail and others run near the tops of the cliffs for much of their length. Most of the rock fall happens in the spring during freeze/thaw cycles, and during storms, when 20 to 30 foot waves crash into the cliffs.

      October 5, 2013 at 10:01 am

  3. Amazing how many different colors the water appears to be. Great shots.

    October 5, 2013 at 8:36 am

    • Thanks, there were times that I was worried that I was showing too much water in my photos, but the colors were too beautiful for me not to.

      October 5, 2013 at 10:02 am

  4. Well done for putting the map in. Much appreciated. Well worth the boat fare.

    October 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    • Thanks Tom, the boat cost me three hours pay, but it was worth it.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      • It did seem to be a perfect day as far as the weather went.

        October 6, 2013 at 9:43 am

  5. Really enjoyed looking at these photos of Pictured Rocks. We have never even been there! The summer before last we took a sunset boat cruise around Grand Island north of Munising. Don’t know if you ever saw this post: http://upwoods.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/goodnight-sandstone-cliffs-goodnight-sun-thanks-for-making-us-shine/ Anyway, have always wondered the difference between these Grand Island Cliffs and Pictured Rocks and you’ve finally answered my question. Thank you, quietsolopursuits–I appreciate this.

    October 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    • Thanks Kathy! I shot a few photos of the cliffs of Grand Island because they are very similar to the Pictured Rocks, but simply ran out of room to include any of them.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:43 pm

  6. So lovely–again, didn’t think Michigan had vistas like this (sorry, I’m sadly out of touch, I know!!!) Some of the images even look like southern Italy! (Although I bet the water is not quite as warm…)

    October 6, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    • Thanks again Lori. Michigan is a beautiful state, but you’re right about the water in Lake Superior, it’s cold even in the summer.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm

  7. As beautiful as these are, I’d also have a hard time weaning down from 200 images. So photogenic it is, I’m sure nearly all were perfect. A perfect clear day with blue skies and blue water, With the colored rocks as a natural contrast. Their shapes and curves decorating the landscape. So glorious.

    October 6, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    • Thanks, but since I was shooting from a moving boat, there were a few bad ones in the batch. The biggest problem I had was keeping the horizon level, as the boat rode bow high, which threw me off for a few shots.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:18 pm

  8. The Pictured Rocks are stunning, and you got a lot of fantastic shots! In terms of beauty, I really can’t pick a favorite. I have to say, though, that I got a kick out of the one where the tree is propped up perfectly, after (apparently) dropping from the treeline above. Great find!

    October 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    • Thanks Jan, I shoot them as I see them. 😉

      October 6, 2013 at 10:59 pm

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