The Pictured Rocks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

This post is written by Blogger Hubby

Jane and I had been to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan about four years ago.  On that occasion we did the normal tourist thing – we viewed the lakeshore from a concession tour boat out of Munising Bay.  The lakeshore consists of multi-layered sandstone cliffs streaked with colorful mineral stains that tower up to 200 feet above the water.  Centuries of crushing ice and battering waves carved the sandstone bedrock into sculptured cliffs, eroding them inland.  The sculpturing includes protruding rock formations, caves and arches with lake water rushing through.

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I recently revisited the lakeshore with my brother and our kayaks to view the cliffs up close and personal.  There were several things we considered in planning the trip to make it a safe and enjoyable experience.

photo from picturedrocks.com
       photo from picturedrocks.com

1)   We monitored the wind conditions online in order to have some confidence that conditions will be safe for kayaking when we arrive.

2)   We researched nearby, inland kayaking locations as a backup ‘plan B’ if wind conditions are poor.  We found that the Indian River and Au Train River have canoe/kayak trails.

3)   Finally, we looked at the National Park Service website for the Pictured Rocks to find access sites to the lake.  We know that weather and water conditions can change suddenly on the Great Lakes so we wanted a site where we could get off the water in a short time.

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The trip to Munising is about 2 ½ hours from the Mackinaw Bridge that connects the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan.  It includes a 25 miles stretch of perfectly straight highway through the Seney National Wildlife Refuge.  The principle access to the lakeshore is at Miner Beach where there is lots of parking and a toilet.  We were glad we brought a pair of  ‘wheels’ for the kayak because there was a somewhat long boardwalk from the parking area through the woods before you get to a set of stairs down to a sandy beach and to the water’s edge. The water conditions were just right, and we took our time exploring the cliffs and rock formations, and taking lots of pictures. This is a tremendously beautiful and unique natural resource, and we are fortunate that it is protected by the NPS and open to the public.  We stopped at a sandy stretch and had our picnic lunch on the beach.

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The only dicey experience we had was from the waves created by some of the tour boats that came by too close and too fast.  We just turned into the waves and rode them, also watching for the back waves coming off the cliff walls back into the lake.

If you are looking for a place to do some kayaking, hiking or to get away, I would recommend visiting The Pictured Rocks in Michigan.

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