Travel Guide to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Located just minutes from downtown Munising, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an incredibly diverse landscape that covers 73,236 acres of pristine land and 42 miles of Lake Superior shoreline. Pictured Rocks features towering cliffs, beautiful white sand beaches, lofty sand dunes, inland lakes, streams and waterfalls and of course, majestic Lake Superior. There is a great deal to see and do here. The park was authorized in 1966 and was America's first national Lakeshore park.
This area has been “lived in” for about 4,000 years. Ancient Woodland Indians, and more recently the Anishnabe have called this place home. The Lakeshore remains a very special place to these people. Explore their heritage as well as that of the U.S. Lighthouse Service and U.S. Coast Guard, or the iron blast furnace industry. Step back in time to ponder what life was like for a lighthouse keeper and his family as you take a Park Ranger guided tour of the Au Sable Light Station.
We all lead incredibly busy lives, so take a few minutes to relax and let the Lakeshore work it’s magic on you. Sit at the foot of a tree along the trail. Think of how special the Lakeshore is, the quiet of the dunes or forest, the solitude of creekside gurglings, the opportunity to immerse yourself in clean air and the pulse of nature.
The Park Service hopes your stay with us - whether a few hours or several days - is an enjoyable and safe one.
Here are a few things to consider as you visit the park:
- Near Grand Marais, Sable Falls cascades down an outcrop of Jacobsville Sandstone on its way to Lake Superior. A lengthy staircase leads to views at the bottom of the waterfall, then continues out to where the creek joins Lake Superior.
- In the center of the park’s backcountry, Chapel and Mosquito Falls dash down valleys that once carried glacial meltwater rivers. A round trip hike of two to three miles leads to these spectacular waterfalls.
- The road to Miners Castle also leads to the Miners Falls Trail. Miners Falls drops some 60 feet over the Northern Michigan Escarpment before flowing into Miners Lake and Lake Superior. The falls are accessed by a .6 mile trail and steep staircase to a viewing platform.
- Munising Falls is within the city limits of Munising on Washington Street. A paved, fully accessible trail leads to three viewing platforms near the falls where the creek tumbles through a valley of spring wildflowers.
Lighthouse & Maritime History
- The Au Sable Light Station still shines its beacon over Lake Superior. A 1.5-mile walk from the lower Hurricane River Campground leads to the lighthouse and a unique feeling of remoteness. June through August you can enjoy a tour of the assistant keepers residence and tower. A maritime museum and information center is open next door five days a week.
- At Sand Point, the former Munising Station (US Coast Guard) serves as Lakeshore headquarters. The grounds and boathouse are open and a 36’ self-righting motorlifeboat is on display in the boathouse.
- Vehicle accessible overlooks of Lake Superior are located at Miners Castle and Miners Beach near Munising. Other spectacular overlooks are at the Log Slide and Sable Falls near Grand Marais.
- Sand Point Beach near Munising is a swimmer’s delight. Plus, the entire eastern half of the Lakeshore is known for its sugar sand Twelvemile Beach.
Hiking & Exploring
- The Lakeshore maintains nearly 100 miles of trail, 40 of which is a portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail. The park is open year-round for hiking, exploring, and winter activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. There are groomed ski trails near Munising and Grand Marais.
- Three drive-in campgrounds are available at Little Beaver Lake, Twelvemile Beach and Hurricane River. All offer rustic camping with water, pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. Backcountry camping is available at 13 backcountry campgrounds. Both individual sites (1-6 people) and group sites (7-20 people) are available. A fee is charged for backcountry camping and permits are required.
- With miles of colorful cliffs and white sandy beaches, the Pictured Rocks shoreline, on Lake Superior, is a kayakers paradise. The park features many put-in points from Munising to Grand Marais as well as backcountry camping for those who are on overnight trips.
- The Lakeshore is open to snowmobiling and a number of unplowed roads throughout the park lead to many of the main attractions. The two most popular destinations include Miners Castle and the Log Slide. These unplowed roads and the shoulders of plowed park roads are open to snowmobiling in conformance with state law. Snowmobile use outside of designated routes is prohibited.
Hunting & Fishing
- The Lakeshore is open to hunting and fishing in accordance with State of Michigan regulations. Whitetail deer, bear, and grouse are the main species that are hunted. Fishing for brook trout, steelhead, coho salmon, and panfish is common in lakes and streams.
Tour Groups & Tour Bus Motorcoaches
- Pictured Rocks is a great stop for tour groups and tour buses. There are various sightseeing opportunities throughout the park that will accomodate large groups and motor coaches. No permits are required to operate within the Lakeshore.
- The Pictured Rocks attractions that will accommodate large RVs / motor coaches include: Sable Falls, Log Slide, Miners Castle & Munising Falls.
- Your pet is welcome at the Lakeshore, but is permitted only in certain areas. Ask for the pets brochure at a visitor center to learn where pets are allowed.
Leave No Trace
- Over 400,000 people visit the Lakeshore annually. Each person is urged to follow the seven Leave No Trace Principles which include:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors