Sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, and beaches are just a few of the reasons why Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was high on my bucket list for years! When I finally laid eyes on the gorgeous shoreline, my expectations were beyond exceeded.
The first stop for our crew was to book tickets with Pictured Rocks Cruises. Of course, just our luck, the day we decided to visit these insane creations, there were high winds and most of the cruises had already been canceled due to the choppy waters. We spoke with the extremely helpful ladies at the front desk who advised us that the final cruise of the day, the sunset cruise, had not been canceled yet. We took our chances, booked our tickets, and decided we would call back later in the day to see what decision the captain had come to. With an entire free afternoon, we spent the day chasing waterfalls.
In between all the waterfalls, we made our way to Miner’s Castle where you can access the cliffs by trails, not too strenuous for even the most out of shape – like me! The views were breathtaking and I left there thinking, “okay, if the cruise is canceled, I’m totally fine with that.”
Of course, I wanted to get up close and personal with the rocks from eye level, but if hiking atop these magnificent wonders was as good as it got, I was going home a happy girl.
We spent just one day in Munising, but you could easily make a whole week’s vacation out of all the incredible spots to explore.
Another bucket list item I was able to cross off was visiting all 5 of the Great Lakes! Lake Superior was the last of the Great Lakes I hadn’t made it to. We drove down Miner’s Castle Road and then trekked down a short path to Miner’s Beach where we dipped our toes in the chilly water. Even in the middle of summer, Lake Superior’s water temperature is only about 58° F due to being the deepest Great Lake with an average depth of 483 ft. At it’s deepest points, Lake Superior can reach 1,332 ft.! Compared to Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and Lake Huron, Lake Superior is the largest in both depth and surface area, boasting almost 32,000 sq. ft., touching the borders of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada.
After lunching at Navigator Restaurant, located right in the center of town, we gave Pictured Rocks Cruises a call and to our delight, our sunset cruise was a go! We drove the whole 2 blocks, threw on extra layers to combat the cold, and got in line for a ride of a lifetime.
As we boarded, we were advised if anyone had any tendency of getting motion sick, this trip was not for you. Some people took up the offer to disembark for a full refund. After everyone was settled on the top level of the catamaran, we were off!
The captain was excellent at describing all the points of interest, even turning the boat around at times so that everyone on both sides could get the best view. This company knows their customer service.
East Channel Lighthouse
Our first stop was the East Channel Lighthouse which stands on the southern tip of Grand Island in Munising Bay. First built in 1868, it was restored in the early 2000s and remains as a reminder of the only instrument sailors used to have available in order to find safe harbor.
The vast sandstone walls, painted a variety of ever-changing colors are usually what people envision at the mention of Pictured Rocks. The colors are created by groundwater and springs rich with minerals such as lime, iron, and copper that leak out of cracks in the rock and trickle down the face of the cliff.
Named for the three rock formations that connect at the base and at the peak to create an arrangement that could be interrupted as drums fit for giants.
Legend has it that a couple displayed their love for one another by jumping off the top of this rock arch together which is where the name generated from. Note: DO NOT attempt, the water depth at the base is super shallow.
This massive rock formation is named as such after many have said they see an “Indian Head” carved into the near vertical cliffs.
I was able to capture my favorite picture of the tour at this spot. The way the sunlight illuminated the cove, just gorgeous!
If you look closely, you will notice the lone tree on top of the rock formation. There is not enough dirt to sustain the root system so if you look even closer, you will see the roots bridge across to the cliff side. At one point, the rock formation created an arch, but once the arch collapsed, all that was left was this incredible feat of nature.
Our tour’s grand final was Spray Falls. The best view of this remote waterfall is from the water, from which you can see the Spray Creek shoot about 70 ft. off the cliff into Lake Superior.
Seriously, there was no bad view on the entire trip. My advice if you are planning to tour Picture Rocks, have a full battery (or two!) for the camera of your choice.
The entire tour lasts about an hour and 45 minutes. Between the wind, the sun setting, the only two left on the upper deck was my niece, Ava, and myself. Our fingers may have been frozen, our face numb, but it was well worth it.
Have you visited Pictured Rocks? For more adventures, check out my Bucket List Travels!