Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: The Ultimate UP Trip

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of Michigan’s most majestic destinations. Spanning over 42 miles of shoreline, this nationally acclaimed lake shore is a must see for any visitor to Michigan. Follow this guide to experience the best of Pictured Rocks in 2020 and beyond.

Pictured Rocks Travel Guide Overview (2021)

Where is Pictured Rock National Lakeshore? How Do I get there?

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks is located just outside the city of Munising in Alger County. The National Lakeshore is located in the north central portion of Michigan’s, Upper Peninsula. Marquette, to Pictured Rocks is about a 50 minute drive.

Mackinac Bridge to Pictured Rocks is about a 2 Hour drive. Visitors may want to work north to south from Grand Marais and down, whereas visitors coming from the West, vice versa.

Best Things to do at Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Here are some of the things that you can do at Pictured Rocks:

  • Camp – Camping is permitted in and around the park. Don’t worry when winter comes through because Camping is permitted year round.
  • Hike – This is why you came here! The park features some of the BEST trails in all of Michigan. All levels of hikes are at your disposal, even Backcountry! (Permits Required for overnight stays!)
  • Kayak – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Kayaking is one of the best ways to experience the park. It’s quite the experience to witness the giant cliffs from a kayak.
  • RENT A PONTOON! THIS is easily the best way to have the most amazing Pictured Rocks experience. Rent a pontoon from Munising and explore the shoreline as well as the surrounding islands that the Boat Tours skip! You will love this. Stop wherever you want and go at your own pace. Full & 1/2 day options available.
  • Pictured Rocks Boat Tours – Boats operate on a 2 hour schedule that takes you from the heart of Munising to the Spray Falls! This is a great way to experience the shoreline if you have limited time and want a quick and highly scenic tour.
  • Swim – Go swimming at any of the spots around the Lakeshore! Those hot days will never feel better with the chill of Lake Superior cooling you down.
  • Cliff Jump – Cliff jumping is possible all along the park. The question remains about how safe some of the jumps are but be very weary of where you decide to be a daredevil.

When is the Best Time to Visit Pictured Rocks?

Chapel Beach Pictured Rocks Hiking
Chapel Beach

Summer is the best time to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore with Fall being a close second. The warmer summer months combined with more sunshine, allow the Lakes water to truly shine and allow for more activities.

Fall is magical too with the Upper Peninsula being a top destination for fall foliage. Something people always overlook in the Fall is trail conditions with rain. Most of the trails and roads in are pretty flat and don’t drain well. This means hiking is going to be a nightmare if you aren’t equipped with the correct footwear. PLAN WISELY!

Winter is an unbelievable time to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. From Ice Climbing to snowmobiling, to snowshoeing, this season is arguably the best depending on who you ask. Although the weather creates some dramatic landscapes, it can be extremely harsh and unforgiving.  

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Map

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Map

Can't Miss Hikes at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore:

Don’t follow the crowds and end up only going to the popular viewpoints. Yes they are scenic but interior hikes and shoreline trails is where you want to spend your time. Here are the best spots and hikes that you want to include on any trip to Michigan’s Best park:

  • Miners Castle/Miners Beach – Miners Castle is the most recognizable feature of Pictured Rocks. The parking lot stroll to the main viewpoint is only a few minute walk while the walk down to the second viewpoint is also quite short. Miners Beach is also only a short jaunt from the area so doing both together doesn’t require much time.
  • Miners Falls – Miners Falls is in the same vicinity as the Beach & Castle. Signs going in will lead you to a fork that goes to the parking lot for the short and rewarding Waterfall.
  • Chapel Falls/Beach – A very demanding 8 mile hike, Chapel Beach is a must see for the fit hiker. If you can’t make the entire loop, Chapel Falls is about a 3 mile round trip hike. Chapel Beach is one of my FAVORITE parts of Pictured Rocks!
  • Chapel Basin Loop – Apart of the hike above, the Chapel Basin loop connects from the Chapel falls and beach to Mosquito Beach. This is about a 10.2 mile hike with some of the most stunning views of Lake Superior in Michigan
  • Chapel Rock – Chapel Rock is one of those things that every visitor needs to see for themselves. The lone white pine that endures the hardships of winter only connected by its long, sturdy roots, is such an iconic spot that it was commemorated apart of the US national quarter series in 2018
  • Log Slide Overlook – This lookout point over some giant sand dunes is well worth your time. Take a peek atop the lake and get a sense of how giant these sand dunes you are perched atop really are.
pictured rocks national lakeshore
Miners Castle
pictured rocks national lakeshore
Chapel Rock
pictured rocks national lakeshore

Pictured Rocks Important INFO To Know!

Cell Phone Signal is Very limited at Pictured Rocks. Know your group plas before departing anywhere without knowing

Bathrooms are dispersed throughout some of the main area of Pictured Rocks and some are available at the parking lots of major hikes. 

Cliff jumping is possible at some parts of pictured rocks but it’s discouraged as most of the jumps are far to high.

Wildlife is abundant at Pictured Rocks so keep your eyes open as you will likely encounter some form of wildlife.

PETS are allowed in the park but are prohibited in certain areas. Check the parks site to see exactly that is. Pets must be kept on a 6 foot leash!

There are a few food spots on the main highways in the park. Munising has a variety of food options as well as Grand Marais area.

Some places to stay near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore include: 

Holiday Inn Express – Munising

Superior Hotel – Grand Marais

Agate Cross Bed & Breakfast – Grand Marais 

Hilltop Cabins – Grand Marais

Mountain biking at Pictured Rocks is not permitted. You can bike on the car paths but not on trails in the park.

Camping at Pictured Rocks

There is NO DROP in Camping at Pictured Rocks! All campsites require a reservation. 

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has three rustic drive-in campgrounds:

  • Little Beaver Lake (8 sites), 
  • Hurricane River (21 sites) 
  • Twelvemile Beach (36 sites)

Camping fees are $20 per night during Peak season (May 1 through October 31).
Camping fees are $15 per night during Non-Peak season 
(November 1 through April 30)

Pictured Rocks Backcountry Camping 

A backcountry camping permit is required for all overnight stays in the backcountry, year-round. The permit is only for the dates, locations, and party size specified. $15 Reservation fee + $5 User fee per person per night

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Upper Michigan Travel Guides

Pictured Rocks is just one of the countless experiences to be had in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Although I’d say its a top 3 experience for sure, there’s plenty more magical moments that you should keep on your radar.

Follow these guides below to discover what’s at your fingertips in the UP. 

Let me be your Upper Peninsula Trip Planner

Want to see the Northern Lights in Michigan? You just might while you’re up here. 

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