If you plan to visit the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, actually seeing the rocks in all their glory is a must do. Sure, you can see the rocks somewhat from lookout points and hiking trails, but taking a boat tour of the rocks is truly the best way to see them all and is highly recommended.
While there are other options in the area, Pictured Rocks Cruises is by far the most popular company. It leaves from the middle of downtown Munising so it’s easy to work it into any plans you have around town. They have a variety of cruise options at different times of the day, including sunset trips. We had a beer or two at By George Brewing before the tour, along with a snack from the Driftwood Deli, and dinner at Tracey’s after the tour. (I highly recommend all of these options.) The deli is located in the same building as By George and they “deliver” your food by bringing it do
We did the spray fall cruise, which lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes.
I’m admitting this now, this is going to be a weird blog post. This post is a lot of pictures with little commentary. I will point out some of the points of interest on the tour, but a lot of the splendor of the Pictured Rocks is sitting back and looking in awe at these stone giants. If you’ve seen these rocks before, you will also note that some of these pictures are out of order. While the boat travels northeast along the shore, there was a fair amount of turning the boat to see a variety of angles. Plus, you get to see them again on the way back in slightly different lighting.
The first highlight on the Pictured Rocks boat cruise is not a rock at all, but instead a manmade building. Constructed in 1868, the East Channel Lighthouse is a haunted looking building sitting on Grand Island, the island just off the shore from Munising.
In a previous post I covered Miners Castle and the overlook. Check it out here if you missed it. This is a view of Miners Castle from the water. You can see the wooden observation decks too.
Everywhere has one, this is the Pictured Rock’s version of Lover’s Leap. Jumping from this point is not advised though as the water near the base is only a few feet deep.
“Indian Head” is a rock formation named for it’s resemblance to a Native America chief. The rock makes up the face and the trees make up the headdress.
As I mentioned in my last post, the color you see throughout the pictured rocks, is thanks to the minerals in the water. As water seeps through cracks and between the layers of rock, minerals are deposited in the soft sandstone and leave behind color. Blue and green colors are from copper, black is manganese; and yellow, red, and orange are iron.
One of the most recognizable rocks on the lakeshore, Chapel Rock holds up a lone tree growing on top of it.
Grand portal is a great reminder of how these rocks and this landscape is alive and changing. Once a stunning archway, it has since collapsed.
Rainbow cave boasts an impressive display of mineral stained rocks.
It’s hard to pick a favorite section, but if I had to pick, this would probably be it.
The namesake of this cruise and the turnaround point, Spray Falls shoots 70 feet from the rocks directly into Lake Superior. When we saw it, there was a pontoon getting close and personal with the falls.
With this I end this series on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. When you consider your next national park trip, I urge you to consider this lakeshore instead. With so much to see and do, there’s something for everyone.