Hi guys! Welcome to my article on Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I’m Taylor Dustin – aka The Wandering Michigander. People often ask me how I came up with this name but really it’s not just a name, it’s who I am.
I grew up in a town called Eau Claire in the southwest corner of Michigan. The beach has always been my home. I actually don’t know what it’s like to live more than 45 minutes from Lake Michigan – I call that being lucky!
Ever since I can remember, I have had a desire to explore and get to know everything around me. I think it stems from the fact that I grew up in a tiny town and really wanted to get out and explore. A lot of people get trapped in their small hometowns and I didn’t want that to happen to me.
Wanderlust is a word that describes how I’m feeling at all times. I desire to live an awe-inspired life and to make the most of the time I’m given here on earth. Life is so short and I’m extremely passionate about living it to the fullest. Photography and videography are creative outlets that help me treasure my adventures forever. And now I get to share that with the world.
My Adventures at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
I clearly remember the first time I visited Pictured Rocks. I was a sophomore in college who realized I had lived in Michigan my entire life but had never been to the Upper Peninsula. I’m pretty sure I discovered Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on my Instagram explore page.
To be honest, I had no idea this place existed or that we had cool stuff like this in Michigan. I would be lying if I said the bright blue/green water wasn’t part of the reason why I wanted to go. Also, the hiking trails and awesome kayaking opportunities at Pictured Rocks were right up my alley.
I have been back to Pictured Rocks three times since my first trip. Each time I go, I find something new to explore. After all, there are 40 miles of lakeshore just waiting to be explored. The 40 miles of lakeshore is filled with waterfalls, amazing hiking trails, colorful sandstone cliffs, great views of Lake Superior and its crystal-clear water, beaches, camping, kayaking and more. What more could you ask for in a bucket list destination?!
Things To Do at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
My favorite experience at Pictured Rocks is kayaking in Lake Superior with views of the sandstone cliffs and crystal-clear water. It’s a view you just don’t get from the shore. My first time going, I passed on kayaking because I thought it was too expensive. Turns out it’s definitely worth the money. Below you can find more suggestions for things to do at Pictured Rocks:
- Hike the Chapel Loop Trail: It’s a long hike but absolutely worth it!
- Go on a Kayaking or Glass Bottom Boat Tour: You need to experience Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from the water at least once. You can also see shipwrecks beneath the water which is pretty cool.
- Check out Miners Castle, Miners Falls and Miners Beach: These are all classic and iconic places of Pictured Rocks not to be missed, especially for photographers wanting to capture the best nature of the area.
Why Camping is the Best Option
I recommend people camp when they go to Pictured Rocks. I really think it adds to the overall experience. There are three rustic campgrounds located throughout Pictured Rocks. The drive-in campsites require a reservation, so I would try to do that in advance. They can get booked up pretty fast. And remember, rustic campsites don’t have electric, water or sewer hookups.
You can also do backcountry camping. These campsites are only accessed by hiking/kayaking. There are 14 of these sites. You need a backcountry camping permit but you can get that at recreation.gov. There are also some free places you can camp on state forest land. Google is your best friend when it comes to this. You can find the answers to all your questions.
Staying at a hotel in Munising is also an option. This is the main town of Pictured Rocks. The hotels can book up fast, so I would do this ahead of time. There are tons of locally owned motels that I recommend if you are looking for a bargain. Not going to lie, I have also slept in my car multiple times when here. I just park it in a safe spot and set up camp in the back.
Treasured Memories from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
My favorite memory from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is when I camped near Miners Beach, woke up at the crack of dawn, ran along the beach and watched the sunrise. It was so invigorating and something I wish I could do every day. Then we headed out for our kayaking tour bright and early. Our tour was the only one on the water and it was amazing!
Need to Know Before you Go
If you are going to Pictured Rocks, I recommend starting on the east end and working your way west towards Munising. If you do this, you can hit up Tahquamenon Falls and Whitefish Point then head to Grand Marais and Sable Falls. All of these places are worth visiting too.
Tahquamenon Falls is just an iconic stop you need to make. It’s the biggest waterfall in Michigan and has some cool hiking trails to do as well. Grand Marais is a cute tiny town with a fantastic beach. And Sable Falls is often overlooked but so worth visiting even if just for a few hours.
Bringing a map is a great idea for Pictured Rocks. The service can be terrible and so you might not have access to your GPS. There is one main road you can drive along to find pretty much all of your stops. As long as you get to that road, you will be fine. I will say that campsites can book up fast, so if you are interested in that you might want to book ahead of time.
The same thing goes for hotels. But if you happen to go without booking your stay ahead of time and run into issues like not having a place to stay, you can definitely car camp! I think everyone needs to try that. One last tip is to go with an open mind. Just let yourself be free and explore!