6 Reasons we love Pictured Rocked National Lakeshore

By on October 17, 2018

Our time in the upper peninsula of Michigan began at Pictured Rock National Lakeshore. We were here a few years ago, but when we decided we were going through the UP this year, stopping at Pictured Rock was a no-brainer.

Before we jump in, I have to tell you that we skipped Tahquamenon Falls State Park and we regret it. The park is beautiful with upper and lower waterfalls, great hiking, and a wonderful campground. If you make your way to the UP, stop at Tahquamenon Falls. Also, make sure you stop at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub which is located in the park at the trailhead to the upper and lower falls. The food is outstanding and the beer is bubbly good!

To best explore Pictured Rock, we camped at the Munising Tourist Park and highly recommend it. We stayed at this campground the last time we were through here. The reason we love this campground is that it is right on Lake Superior. The sunsets will take your breath away! Campsites #72-80 provide the most privacy, have plenty of room for RV’s, and are right on the water. It’s a small campground but there is a playground, it’s right off M-28, and of course, it’s on the water! This city of Munising is a small but quaint town to just wander around. We love hanging out at Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore. The food is fabulous and it’s a good place to enjoy one of the many books on their bookshelves.

Let’s get to it – here are 6 reasons we made Pictured Rock National Lakeshore a priority in our UP travels.

#1: Sea Kayaking
Of course, I have to start with sea kayaking because it was the primary reason for stopping here. There are several companies that have half day and full day tours, we chose Northern Waters for our tour this time around. Kayaking on Lake Superior is some of the most beautiful kayaking we have ever done. You go out in a tandem kayak so make sure you bring someone you trust, haha. Every company we have gone with does a great job of providing the group with some basic kayaking training. However, we would suggest you are not brand new to kayaking as it will really slow the entire group down. In Dayton, we have Five Rivers MetroParks and they do a fantastic job of providing people with opportunities to “try out” various sports to prepare you for activities like this one. If you are a more experienced kayaker, we strongly suggest going on a full day tour as you won’t have as many new folks.

If kayaking is not something you can or want to do, there are plenty of boat tours so you can still explore Pictured Rocks.

#2: The Colors
Pictured Rock lives up to its namesake and is simply stunning. When the sun hits the rock the color explodes. There are all of these nooks and crannies to slide your kayak into and feel like you are holding up a thousand plus tons of rock. Just look at the pictures below. If you like what you see, imagine how gorgeous it looks in person. It left us speechless.

#3 Rock Formations
I love sliding the kayak through these small spots! You have to wonder how or when this happened to the rock. The last time we kayaked this area we came around a corner only to see a big wave and a lot of kayakers looking up. A big piece of rock fell right before their eyes! Fortunately, nobody was hurt but a lot of people were quite startled. I am conflicted – I wish I would have seen it but I doubt we would have come back, haha!

#4: The Clear Water
It feels like you can see all the way to the bottom of this very deep water. The only other time I have seen water this clear was in Florida as I snorkeled around the coral. I am confident there are places around the world with crystal clear water, but I was raised on the Mississippi River and there is nothing clear about that body of water. Therefore, when I am around clear water, I am mesmerized. There is something so breathtaking about crystal clear water. At one point the guide showed us a ship wreckage and it was amazing how much you could see. If I had the right gear, I would have loved to have snorkeled around it. Lake Superior was a warm 60 degrees the day we were on it.

#5: The Hiking
The best part of Pictured Rock National Lakeshore is there is so much more to do besides kayaking. You can day hike and backpack the area. According to the National Park Service, you can backpack about 43 miles. We did a 10-mile loop to explore Chapel Rock and the Mosquito Falls area. Pictured below is Chapel Rock, a most impressive balancing rock overlooking Lake Superior.

#6: The Waterfalls
You can see about 18 waterfalls in the Munising area. The last time we were here it was our goal to see all of them! This trip we didn’t have the time so we only saw a few. The one pictured below is Miners Fall which is part of an easy 1.2 mile hike. There are some waterfalls that you can only see from a kayak and some only after a good rainfall. Then there is Mosquito Falls which you only see if you are covered in enough deet, haha!


That is an oversimplified summary of Pictured Rock. We didn’t explore the Grand Island National Recreation Island and we wish we would have had time to do it, but you can only do so much when you have time constraints. Pictured Rock is a beautiful place to visit with plenty to keep you busy. If you check it out, let us know your favorite spots. If you liked what you read here, be sure to like and/or comment on the post so we know what you want to hear more about next time.
Until we adventure again…



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