Driving around Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it’s hard to believe you’re still in the United States. A road trip here comes dotted with charming little towns that give way to the untouched landscape of the coast with the more than 70,000 acres of national parkland waiting to be explored. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Throw out your itinerary for the weekend. Simply driving along the lakeshore, you’ll find charming small towns you’ll want to stop and meander through. Munising is the largest and, as the closest to the park entrance, it’s where you’ll want to stay if you’re not camping in the park. It’s full of shops that will have you wishing you packed an extra suitcase, but, even if you’re not in a shopping mood, make sure to stop at Muldoons Pasties & Gifts and get yourself a pasty. Further from the park entrance, it’s hard to resist stopping in a community called Paradise. Check out the shipwreck museum before taking in Tahquamenon Falls, and follow it up with a craft brew at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub.
Pictured Rocks Cliffs
No visit to this part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is complete without taking in the namesake Pictured Rocks Cliffs. The sandstone cliffs stretch out along Lake Superior towering 200 feet above the lake at their highest point. But more than their sheer size, it’s the colors of the cliffs, streaked with red, orange, blue-green, white brown and black, that will strike you the most. Pro viewing tips: the cliffs are best seen from the water and there are boat tours you can take, but, you can also see them by taking a 10-mile hike along the Chapel Basin.
Waterfalls seem to pop up everywhere along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but the must-visit for us is Munising Falls. The 50-foot waterfall, located a short, easy walk off Miners Castle Road, is a must-visit for how incredibly powerful the falls are. Take the stairs up to the elevated platforms and watch in awe as the water drops over the cliff. On your way back from the falls, stop at Miners Castle Rock, one of the most famous landmarks in the park and one of the few places you can see the Pictured Rocks Cliffs on foot.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore’s Lighthouses
Wander down a 1.5-mile trail from the Hurricane River Campground and you’ll find an active light station standing guard over the lakeshore. Depending on the season, you can tour the Au Sable Lighthouse, originally built in the 1800s, but even if the lighthouse isn’t open when you visit, the views along the trail are worth the walk alone.