Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI

Marquette, MI

After a three night stay near St. Ignace, Monday morning we headed west across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Our target destination was the Ojibwa Casino, a few miles east of Marquette.  The first two thirds of the 150 mile journey was through the center of the UP along Route 28.  The road was flat, tree lined, and pretty much deserted.

A traffic jam along Route 28

We arrived at the casino a bit after noon and found only two of the seven RV spots were taken.  We quickly set up in one of the available sites (50 amp electric, no water/sewer) and went into the small casino to sign in at the Customer Service Desk.  There is no charge for the RV site and, in fact, they pay you to stay here!  We received a $5 voucher that we could take to the cashier for cash or credit on a player’s card.  Since we really don’t like to sit at a slot machine and push the button we felt a little guilty taking their $5 and electricity without spending money there, so we opted not to cash the voucher.

Since the skies cleared soon after our arrival, we jumped in the Jeep and headed back east about 40 miles to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Pictured Rocks is a U.S. National Lakeshore on the shore of Lake Superior.  It extends for 42 miles along the shore and offers spectacular scenery of the hilly shoreline with various rock formations like natural archways, waterfalls, and sand dunes.

Pictured Rocks derives its name from the 15 miles of colorful sandstone cliffs northeast of the little town of Munising.  The cliffs are up to 200 feet above lake level. They have been naturally sculptured into shallow caves, arches, formations that resemble castle turrets, and human profiles.

Our first stop was the observation decks for a view of Miners Castle, one of the best known features of Pictured Rocks.

Miners Castle

A closer view

The cliffs are made of sandstone so they are constantly changing.  Miner’s Castle is a good example as it once had two “turrets”, but in 2006 one of them collapsed.  See the small opening at the base of the Castle in the picture above?  A zoom shows it to be a cave that allows water to pass from one side of the Castle to the other.

The colors in the cliffs are created by the large amounts of minerals in the rock.  A look directly below us on this observation deck shows some of that color.

Looking to the north you have a nice view of some of the cliffs.  Tour boats are plentiful as the rocks are best viewed from the water.

There is a one and a half mile trail from the observation point that leads down to a beach along the lake shore.

Upper section of the trail to the beach

Exiting the trail on to the beach

From the beach you get another view of the cliffs to the north.  Sorry about the picture below.  We didn’t realize that a young couple photo-bombed our picture!

Hiking the trail back from the beach

About a half mile from the observation deck parking area is the trail head to Miners Falls.  Its a short hike (.6 mi.) out to a great view of the falls.  The falls drop about 40 feet over a sandstone outcrop.

Miners Falls from the observation deck

The falls from below

Pothole formations at the base of the falls

On our way back through the little town of Munising we noticed the junior-senior high school building.  From the road it looks a bit like a bunker but . . .

. . . it has a great view of the water on the other side.

Tomorrow we plan to visit the nearby city of Marquette.  More on that later . . .

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17 Responses to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI

  1. Sue says:

    Great pictures, I can’t believe the color of that water! Imagine the nerve of the, ahem, young couple – Jumping right into your shot. Looks like you’re having a wonderful time, just what you’re supposed to be doing. We’re off for Denver in the morning.

  2. libertatemamo says:

    This is one area of MI we’d love to see. Heard so much about it and your shots sure do make it enticing. Plus free camping?! Fabulous!

  3. Ingrid says:

    Thanks for the tour and casino info. The Midwest may be in our plans next summer 😉

  4. pmbweaver says:

    Gorgeous header photo.

    Now you can’t beat the price of that casino campground!

    Oh my gosh…those cliffs are awesome. But, it is a little scarey to know that those colors are created from minerals.

    I think you should have thanked that young couple. They actually made the photo much prettier.

    I love waterfalls. For some reason, the roaring sound is soothing to me.

    Great photos you two! Enjoy your stay.

  5. Beautiful! Those potholes are odd, in the photo they look like protrusions instead of indentations at first glance. Love the colors in the water!

    Who are you kidding…you guys are young and young at heart! Great shot!

  6. Joseph Dominick says:

    Hey guys! Great pics. Our new email address is jdomwr@gmail.com.

    Looking forward to catching up with you later this year.

  7. Thanks for the peek, we can’t wait to see these beautiful rocks in person. Great photos. We will check out those casino parking too!

  8. Sherry says:

    Your pictures are fantastic and I should know, we were just there last month. BUT we didn’t know about the casino. It’s OK since we spent quite a bit of time at either end of the Lakeshore in Munising and Grand Marais. I’d totally have made a big stink about the photobombers. But they do take a good picture. You definitely put us to shame driving 150 miles AND seeing all of that in the afternoon..

  9. Laurel says:

    The color of the water is absolutely stunning! I really like the photos from above that show how incredibly clear the water is. (Very nice photo of you two, as well!) 🙂

  10. Paul Weaver says:

    How’s the sign outside Marquette….”1 mile to end of earth, 3 miles to Marquette”???
    Put the $5 chip on “red” at the roulette table…double or nothing.

  11. Janna says:

    Gorgeous photos!

  12. LuAnn says:

    This was a great walk back through history for us, having been there three years ago. In fact Terry had a photo of Miner’s Castle from about 30 years ago that had the other turret on it that we could compare to the more recent one. I looked back on our photos of the area and I have one that looks to be very near the place where you must have been standing to take the shot, although I am in my photo in a green shirt that blends right into the surrounding landscape. Did you steal my photo and Photoshop me out (lol)? How very clever of that young couple to photo-bomb your shot! 🙂

  13. Jodee Gravel says:

    Wow, cliffs, forest, falls, beach – all in an afternoon! Great pics of that gorgeous area. This time of year that school looks to have the perfect location – but in the Winter I imagine they’re glad they have the bunker! Heavy traffic and photo bombers – sorry the hoards are messing with your good times……

  14. Amanda says:

    Beautiful! We missed Pictured Rocks when we went through the UP a few years ago and always regretted it. Now that I know there’s free casino camping nearby I want to go even more. Love all the photos, and that young couple looks awfully familiar 🙂

  15. jcgc50 says:

    The UP is on our list for one of these years. Beautiful photos!

  16. Lovely photos and great selfie Pam and John! I haven’t go the hang of that yet.

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