Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Ultimate Guide to Jaw Dropping Cruises, Hiking, Waterfalls, Kayaking, Maps and 12 Mile Beach Campground

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Ultimate Guide to Jaw Dropping Cruises, Hiking, Kayaking, Waterfalls, Maps and 12 Mile Beach Campground

By Sherry Trautman | Traveling Michigan

Magnificent Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is located along the scenic Lake Superior Shoreline in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Perfect for sightseeing, kayaking, hiking, boat tours, camping and photography!

Located near Munising, the National Lakeshore is a must-see during your UP vacation!

Would you love to visit Pictured Rocks but not sure how to see them?  We have an interactive map that will solve all your concerns!  Our locations are free, easy to see and just magnificent! Plus lots of other things to do while you are here!


How To Easily See the Pictured Rocks Cliffs


For so many years we only saw Pictured Rocks from the Miner's Castle viewpoint.  What a shame!

This past year I decided I research more immersive ways to see this spectacular Upper Peninsula marvel and boy were we not disappointed! We spent two weeks exploring and still haven't seen it all!

You can see the magnificent cliffs in so many ways! Hiking, snowmobiling, boat cruises, beaches and driving to iconic view points! We will cover some of the easier and best ways to get your started here!

Easy Ways to See Pictured Rocks:



Waterfalls at Pictured Rocks

  • Munising Falls - 1/4 mile round trip
  • Miner Falls - 1.2 miles round trip
  • Mosquito - 2 miles round trip
  • Chapel - 2.4 miles round trip
  • Sable Falls - 1/4 mile with 168 stairs each way

**Grab our Ultimate List of 45 Waterfalls and Scenic Places in the UP!


Pictured Rocks Interactive Map


IMPORTANT: Be sure to click this Pictured Rocks Map link to be connected live with Google Maps on your phone.  


We created this Pictured Rocks Interactive Map to help you find your specific stops and aid in planning your trip. 

Helpful Map Tips:

  • Click on the plus and minus in the left corner to zoom in or out of the map.
  • Click on the icons for more info, addresses and photos of the stops.
  • Click on the map to drag and move it to view surrounding areas.
  • In the Header, click on the rectangle in the upper left of the map to see a menu of all of our stops. Click on anything that looks interesting to see where it is on the map. To hide the menu, click the rectangle in the header. 
  • In the Header, click on the "square" icon in the upper right side to expand the map for better viewing. 

Be sure to wear a sturdy hiking boot!  I wear these women's hiking boots for the wider toe box.  Chris prefers these men's hiking boots because of the amazing memory form takes the pain out of walking.

Can You See Pictured Rocks From Land?

Certainly!  Miner's Castle Overlook and Miner's Beach are the easiest ways.  You can also hike the North Country Trail along the coastline.  

We love Log Slide Overlook which offers breathtaking views of the coastline without a lot of walking involved. 

Can I Swim at Pictured Rocks?

Miner's Beach Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Upper Peninsula MichiganMiner's Beach Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Upper Peninsula Michigan

Of course! Our favorite beaches is Miner's beach and Sand Point beach as the water is so clear with tremendous views. 

Bonus: Miner's beach is home to Elliot Falls!

When is the Best Time to Visit Pictured Rocks? When are the Black Flies?

Be sure to come prepared for changing conditions. Hiking in weather? Grab a raincoat or warm pants

All seasons are beautiful at Pictured Rocks.  Summer is ideal for swimming, camping and sightseeing.  We enjoy visiting in the autumn as the trees are magnificent and the tourists are less. 

Black flies and mosquitoes can be a pest mid-May to mid-July. Stable flies are common along the shore in warm, humid weather. 

Wear:


I wore this mosquito jacket while hiking Pictured Rocks and it was a lifesaver in the dark buggy areas as it has hood too.

Miners Castle Overlook and Famous Pictured Rocks Viewpoint


Yeah, you are stuck with a photo of us, but you know you gotta find this point of Pictured Rocks National Park and take a pic!  It's so incredibly beautiful! See the point on the map above!


Miners Beach is a Wow Factor with Magnificent Views of Pictured Rocks!


When they say a picture is worth a thousand words, how about a video?  It's just breathtaking here!


Elliot Falls is a Gorgeous Waterfall in Michigan's Upper Peninsula


While at Miner's Beach, check out Elliot Falls which is on the east end of the beach.  While it is small, it takes the day for it's beauty! It's rock formations makes it an exquisite waterfall at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.


Pictured Rocks Cruises

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks Cruises is an absolutely breathtaking experience and a trip you should not miss. 

What Side of the Boat Should I Sit On?

It doesn't matter which side of the boat you sit on as the right side is closest to the rock on the way out and the left side is closest to the rocks on the way back. However, if you take a later afternoon cruise you may want the most light as possible so sit on the right side. There is also a large area at the back of the boat where you can walk around. 

The boat has an open top section, closed inside section and other open sections to wander around. There is a bathroom at the back of the boat.

You will see such fantastic rock formations and Spray Falls which is only visible by water.


Riptide Ride is an Absolute Blast!


We really REALLY enjoyed our exciting Rip Tide Ride around Grand Island during the Rip Tide Ride in Munising, Michigan. This is a great family owned business to support as they are so friendly and care about your well being. 



You will scream with delight during the zig zags and high speed turns.  We got to see waterfalls so close up that we could touch them! 

We dipped into caves, saw lighthouses and enjoyed great views of Grand Island.


Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Book this UP adventure at least 3 days before your visit as times fill up.
  • No food or drink is allowed on the boat.
  • Leave your purse in the car. You don't need to have it sliding around.
  • Don't wear floppy sun hats as it will blow off.  A tight visor or baseball hat is better if you need to wear a hat.  
  • Wear sunscreen!
  • It will be very windy.  Girls, put your hair in a braid or bun or you will have a rats nest!
  • It's best to arrive 30 minutes prior.  
  • If the parking lot is full near the gift shop, there is another one across the street.
  • The gift shop has restrooms. 
  • Take note, the lake is much cooler.  Even if it's 75 outside, wear pants and bring a sweatshirt or long sleeve t-shirt.
  • Oh, and you might get a little wet from the spray during the high speed turns but we didn't.  
  • No bathrooms on the boat. You will remain seat belted the entire time.


Want More Activities on the Water and Views of Pictured Rocks in Munising?

Want more activities on the water? Check out:

  • Glassbottom Shipwreck Tours
  • Pictured Rocks Kayaking

These are great options for more fun on the water! We recommend later afternoon/evening cruises as the light is best on the rocks at this time. 

You can also rent pontoons at Superior Pontoon Rentals to view Pictured Rocks National Park, caves and waterfalls on your own. Or you can dock close to shore and spend time on Grand Island exploring historic landmarks, lighthouses, waterfalls, and scenic overlooks. You can rent them for the evening, half or full day. Great for families!


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Kayak Accessibility Map 

A sea kayak is the only type of kayak that should be used on Lake Superior.  Here is the National Parks Service info on kayaking at Pictured Rocks

We recommend taking a kayaking guided tour for safety as the waves on Lake Superior are unforgiving.

Pictured Rocks Kayaking offers guided tours.

Best Pictured Rocks Hiking


We've done A LOT of hiking trails in Michigan's Upper Peninsula at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and it is honestly some of the best hiking out there. 

When hiking or kayaking at Pictured Rocks, the National Parks Service recommends using a GPS (Global Positioning System)

Recommended Hikes:

  • Mosquito Falls Hike
  • Chapel Falls Hike Length: 6.2 miles roundtrip (from parking lot). Trail passes Chapel Falls and continues to Chapel Rock and Chapel Beach.
  • North Country National Scenic Trail (follows the lakeshore)
  • Grand Sable Dunes
  • Log Slide Overlook 
  • Sable Falls Dune Trails 


Waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula

Want the Ultimate UP Waterfall List?

I spent a week putting together 45 Upper Peninsula Waterfalls and MUST-SEE spots so be sure to check it out!


Sand Point Beach has Stunningly Clear Water!


Sand Point Beach is a great spot to spend the afternoon!  Wonderful beach to wander along and build sand castles. The water is amazingly clear and beautiful as you can see. I love that there is shade trees to get a break from the sun.

No food or amenities so be sure to pack in what you need. There is a porta john. This area gets very busy so arrive early so you can get a closer parking spot. 


Sand Point Marsh Trail 


The Sand Point Marsh Trail is one heck of a great place to walk and see wildlife.  It's a 0.5 mile loop that is all boardwalk.

Located across from Sand Point Beach, this boardwalk trail takes you through beautiful wetlands. See lots of  a cattail marsh, small ponds, and white cedar and black spruce swamp communities dominate the scene. The best times for wildlife activity are early or late in the day. Wheelchair accessible. 


Drive in and Backcountry Camping at Pictured Rocks

Drive in Camping is at Twelvemile Beach, Hurricane River and Little Beaver Lake campgrounds.  No showers. You can register and pay at the campgrounds but get there early because during peak seasons the campgrounds fill by 10 am. 

Backcountry Camping: There are 14 backcountry campgrounds, most along the North Country Trail.  You will need a permit that you can get at www.recreation.gov.  

You can only use stoves at Chapel Beach and Mosquito beach as fires are not allowed. 

There is no potable water so you will need a water filter.  

We recommend LifeStraw water filter as a must-carry tool for hiking, camping and travel as it filters up to 1,000 gallons of contaminated water without iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals

12 Mile Beach Campground

Twelvemile Beach Campground is a scenic campground with spectacular views of Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. 30 minutes east of Munising.

There are 36 sites total, including 2 handicap accessible sites so book early to secure a spot. Twelvemile Beach campground has water, pit toilets, picnic tables and fire rings making it a perfect secluded camping space. Can walk to the beach.

The campground has access to the North Country Trail and the two mile long self-guided White Birch Interpretive Trail so be sure to take a day to explore these great trails.

Know before you go:

  • Cell signal may be non existent so be prepared.  
  • Sites #14 and #15 can be very windy.
  • No running water (no flush toilets)

Booking and more information of Twelve Mile Beach Campground


Where to Stay in Munising

Booking.com

We stayed at the AmericInn which was in a good location for the falls, restaurants and beaches.  Lots of great choices in the Munising area. 


Pets at Pictured Rocks

Per the National Parks Service, pets are allowed only in limited areas of the park and prohibited on most trails.  Check at Visitor's Centers or specific websites of your intended destinations to see you dogs are allowed. 

Pets are not allowed in the backcountry.


Can I Take My Drone to Pictures Rocks?

Drones are prohibited in all areas of the park.

Pin This Pictured Rocks Page!

Want More Waterfalls and FUN? 
See Two More Options Below!!

1.  45 Upper Peninsula Waterfalls and Jaw-Dropping Scenic Spots to Visit This Summer!


See our whole page dedicated to 45 Upper Peninsula Waterfalls and Jaw Dropping Scenic Spots Your Family Will Love This Summer!


OR...Another Awesome Choice

2. Ultimate Upper Peninsula Road Trip!


Zoom in and out of the map to see our stops!

Click the links below for full city guides, tips, maps, photos and things to do!

  • Mackinaw City (See our City Guide)
  • Mackinac Island (See our Island Guides!)
  • Tahquamenon Falls or a train ride/river boat excursion (Tons of photos, info)
  • Whitefish Point (This place is spectacular! See our photos and things to do!)
  • Manistique (be sure to visit this page, there's at least 2 full days of activities and additional map of things to see in this area)
  • Kitch-iti-kipi (Highlight of the summer! This place is jaw-dropping!)

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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What cities are near Pictured Rocks mi? Not rated yet
Just wondering the closely spot to get a hotel near the rocks. Thanks! Answer Hi Issi, I would recommend getting a hotel in Munising as there …

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I have a couple drones that I love to fly and would like to capture video of pictured rocks. Are they legal to fly at Pictured Rocks? Answer Hi …

How many miles is pictured rocks? Not rated yet
Just wondered how long the rocks span along the coast? Answer Hi Roger, Pictured Rocks extends for 42 miles along the shoreline of Lake Superior …

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When is the best time to visit Pictured Rocks? In terms of most scenic, less busy? Thanks! Carol Best Answer Hey Carol, good question! Really, …

Can you swim at Pictured Rocks? Not rated yet
Visiting in the summer next year and our kids would like to swim if possible. It would be cool to swim with fantastic views! Thanks! Answer Hi …

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Just wondered the best way to see the pictured rocks without going on a boat and long hikes. Answer Hi Dave! The best spots to see Pictured Rocks …

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