Hi there!

 

Welcome to America’s first national lakeshore!

A trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore means a trip to the Great Lakes and a trip to Lake Superior! (And a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.)

 

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: national lakeshores in Michigan. National parks in Michigan. Upper Peninsula. UP. Michigan travel blog

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: national lakeshores in Michigan. National parks in Michigan. Upper Peninsula. UP. Michigan travel blog

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: national lakeshores in Michigan. National parks in Michigan. Upper Peninsula. UP. Michigan travel blog

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: national lakeshores in Michigan. National parks in Michigan. Upper Peninsula. UP. Michigan travel blog

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: national lakeshores in Michigan. National parks in Michigan. Upper Peninsula. UP. Michigan travel blog

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: national lakeshores in Michigan. National parks in Michigan. Upper Peninsula. UP. Michigan travel blog

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: national lakeshores in Michigan. National parks in Michigan. Upper Peninsula. UP. Michigan travel blog

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: national lakeshores in Michigan. National parks in Michigan. Upper Peninsula. UP. Michigan travel blog

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: national lakeshores in Michigan. National parks in Michigan. where to see sand dunes in up. where to see pictured rocks cliffs. Upper Peninsula. UP. Michigan travel blog

 

 

There are 3 national lakeshores in the United States, designated by the U.S. National Park Service. These are all located on the Great Lakes:

 

 

3 of the VERY BEST things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

 

1. Miners Castle overlook

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park: where to see pictured rocks cliffs near munising. upper peninsula UP michigan travel blog
If you are not giving yourself much time, and you are on the Munising side of Pictured Rocks, then don’t miss Miners Castle! Walk 5-10 minutes to get to the overlook. The town of Munising is the side of the Pictured Rocks cliffs.

 

 

2. Log Slide overlook

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park: where to see pictured rocks sand dunes near grand marais. upper peninsula UP michigan travel blog
If you are not giving yourself much time, and you are on the Grand Marais side of Pictured Rocks, then don’t miss the Log Slide! Walk around 10 minutes to get to the overlook. The town of Grand Marais is the side of the Pictured Rocks sand dunes.

 

 

3. Pictured Rocks cliffs!

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park: where to see pictured rocks cliffs near munising. upper peninsula UP michigan travel blog

 

The cliffs are what makes Pictured Rocks famous. There are a few different ways to see the Pictured Rocks cliffs. Each option requires a time commitment of a couple of hours at least. The best way to see Pictured Rocks can be by boat, by kayak, or by foot! It depends on your preference!

 

 

Take a Pictured Rocks boat cruise to see the cliffs

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park: pictured rocks boat cruise tour. where to see pictured rocks cliffs near munising. upper peninsula UP michigan travel blog

 

 

Take a Pictured Rocks kayak tour to see the cliffs

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park: pictured rocks kayaking tour. where to see pictured rocks cliffs near munising. upper peninsula UP michigan travel blog

 

 

Hike to see the Pictured Rocks cliffs

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park: pictured rocks hiking. where to see pictured rocks cliffs near munising. upper peninsula UP michigan travel blog

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park: pictured rocks hiking. where to see pictured rocks cliffs near munising. upper peninsula UP michigan travel blog

 

 

So those are the very top things you must consider when you’re going to Pictured Rocks.

There is a list of more activities below that includes beaches, waterfalls, and even a lighthouse. There are also ideas to get you started on hiking, camping, swimming, and even scuba diving in Pictured Rocks.

 

Share the video.

 

 

How did the Pictured Rocks shoreline on Lake Superior come to be?

In short, it has to do with glaciers, ice sheets, the changing of water levels, rough waves, and erosion throughout the very ancient years.

The Pictured Rocks shoreline continues to change today for some of the same reasons of water levels, crashing waves, and erosion.

In recent years, there have been sightings of large chunks of rocks falling into the lake. (For example, news story and video.) The Pictured Rocks cliffs most recently crumbled into Lake Superior in June 2021. This is said to have happened to the cliffs between Miners Beach and Mosquito Beach: VIDEO. This is another example of how unstable the edges of the cliffs can be… so don’t get too close to the edge when you are hiking!

 

 

You can also see evidence of eroding cliffs and dunes in places as you are exploring the Lake Superior coastline in Pictured Rocks.

Read more about the Pictured Rocks geology (pdf) from the State of Michigan.

 

 

Drive-in camping in Pictured Rocks

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: camping in pictured rocks campgrounds. car camping, tent camping, rv camping. UP Michigan travel blog

 

Another top thing to consider at Pictured Rocks is camping. There’s tent camping and RV camping available. Campgrounds get booked up, so better to book sooner rather than later.

Drive-in camping is also called “frontcountry” camping, meaning you can drive straight up to your campsite and set up camp.

None of the campgrounds have any “modern” amenities. This means that there are basic no-flush toilets, and there are no showers.

There are 3 frontcountry campgrounds in Pictured Rocks.

If your Michigan road trip will take you to other parts of the UP, also see some more camping spots near Lake Superior.

 

 

Backcountry camping in Pictured Rocks

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: backpacking pictured rocks. backcountry camping in pictured rocks campgrounds. UP Michigan travel blog

 

Backpacking in Pictured Rocks is a thing. This means overnight hiking and camping trips. There are areas that you can hike for miles with lake views!

 

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hiking lake superior and the north country trail in michigan. hiking pictured rocks. UP Michigan travel blog

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hiking lake superior and the north country trail in michigan. hiking pictured rocks. UP Michigan travel blog

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hiking lake superior in michigan. hiking pictured rocks. UP Michigan travel blog

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hiking lake superior in michigan. hiking pictured rocks. UP Michigan travel blog

 

The North Country Trail is a hiking trail (backpacking trail) that goes for 4,700 miles from the midwest to the east coast.

And yes, this North Country Trail goes right through Pictured Rocks!

 

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: backpacking the north country trail in michigan. backpacking pictured rocks. backcountry camping in pictured rocks. overnight hiking trip. UP Michigan travel blog

 

So you can make your North Country Trail backpacking trip exclusively in Pictured Rocks too.

 

Best things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: backpacking pictured rocks. backcountry camping in pictured rocks campgrounds. UP Michigan travel blog

 

When doing an overnight trip, it’s recommended that you take a shuttle to your starting point, and then hike to your car. 

Be sure to read through everything there is to know about backcountry camping in Pictured Rocks. Backcountry campsites also do get booked up ahead of time so early planning is important! 

You book your Pictured Rocks campsite (both frontcountry and backcountry) through the official national park camping reservation website.

If you’re not into overnight hiking, you don’t have to miss out on the North Country Trail! You can hike sections of the North Country Trail as day hikes too.

 

 

Bears in Pictured Rocks

Bears in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park. bears in upper peninsula. michigan bears. michigan travel blog

 

According to the State of Michigan:

Approximately 15,000 – 19,000 black bears (including cubs) roam the hardwood and conifer forests of northern Michigan.

About 90 percent of the bear live in the Upper Peninsula, while the remaining ten percent are mainly found in the northern Lower Peninsula.

 

Pictured Rocks is bear country.

You may come across a “bear cam” (bear camera) when you are in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. 

 

Bear camera in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park. bears in upper peninsula. michigan bears. michigan travel blog

 

If you’re tent camping with your car, leave all food and scented items in your car. At backcountry campsites, there are food storage areas so you can keep items that might attract bears away from you.

 

Bears in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park, hiking and camping. UP Michigan travel blog

 

You will also find “bearproof” trash cans all over the park.

 

Bearproof trash can in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park. bears in upper peninsula. michigan bears. michigan travel blog

Bearproof trash can in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park. bears in upper peninsula. michigan bears. michigan travel blog

 

It’s important for everyone to do their part in taking care not to leave trash around. It takes an effort from everyone who visits Pictured Rocks to keep it so that bears do not associate humans with food. This means that it takes an effort from everyone to keep it so that bears are not a major threat to humans. So please, take care!

 

Bears in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park. bears in upper peninsula. michigan bears. michigan travel blog
“A fed bear is a dead bear.” If bears start to recognize human food as bear food, they can become a serious threat to humans – to you! If that happens, a bear may have to be put to rest for good. This is why it’s said to be important that everyone does their part to pick up after themselves.

 

See the pdf of how to keep bears away. Read more about hiking and camping with bears in national parks.

 

 

Swimming in Pictured Rocks?!

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: swimming in pictured rocks. can you swim in lake superior at pictured rocks? UP Michigan travel blog

 

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has many Lake Superior beaches

But…

Does Pictured Rocks have beaches for swimming?

Well… that is up to you and your tolerance for cold water! 😉

The short answer is yes, there are beaches that can be deemed relatively safe for swimming in Pictured Rocks in the summer.

The waters off of Pictured Rocks never really warm up any time of the year, and even in summer Lake Superior can be cold. 

Still, there are people who get in the water to swim while they are at Pictured Rocks! 

You might be considered lucky if the water temperature is in the mid-60s when you’re there. That can be considered “warm” for Lake Superior.

 

According to the National Park Service:

Shoreline water temperatures in summer usually range from the upper 50s to the upper 60s.

Some years it can reach 70 degrees by mid-August in Munising Bay.

 

There are NO lifeguards anywhere on the beaches in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Also know that Lake Superior in some ways can act like an ocean. Rip currents exist.

Take care when swimming!

 

 

Scuba diving in Pictured Rocks

Also, there are also tons of shipwrecks in Lake Superior.

And although Pictured Rocks isn’t considered the most dangerous area of Lake Superior, even along Pictured Rocks was said to be called “Graveyard Coast.”

 

snorkeling and scuba diving in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: scuba diving michigan shipwrecks. great lakes graveyard coast, lake superior shipwecks. UP Michigan travel blog

snorkeling and scuba diving in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: scuba diving michigan shipwrecks. great lakes graveyard coast, lake superior shipwecks. UP Michigan travel blog

 

You can explore some shipwrecks along the Pictured Rocks shoreline too.

 

snorkeling and scuba diving in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: scuba diving michigan shipwrecks. great lakes, lake superior shipwecks. UP Michigan travel blog

snorkeling and scuba diving in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: scuba diving michigan shipwrecks. great lakes, lake superior shipwecks. UP Michigan travel blog

 

Snorkeling and scuba diving is a thing in Lake Superior, and there is also the Alger Underwater Preserve that is located off the shores of Pictured Rocks.

According to the National Park Service:

Some of the best scuba diving in the Midwest can be found in and around Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Snorkeling and scuba diving are permitted throughout the park.

See more (pdf) about what you can find scuba diving in Pictured Rocks.

If you’re interested in Great Lakes shipwrecks, then you may also want to visit Whitefish Point aka the Graveyard of Lake Superior when you’re in the eastern UP. (That could be called the most dangerous area of Lake Superior.) This is located around 2 hours from Pictured Rocks.

 

 

🌳

 

 

 

Now…

20+ things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park

 

Driving to Pictured Rocks from Munising

Pictured Rocks map. Munising map. Things to do in Pictured Rocks near Munising. UP Michigan travel blog
Map of Munising to west entrance of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

 

So this first part will start by going in the general order of west to east, so if you are entering Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park from the Munising side. Your landmark for easy reference on this side can be the Munising Falls Visitor Center. This is also the side of Pictured Rocks that’s closest to Marquette.

 

 

1. Munising Falls

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: munising falls. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This can be a pretty quick visit, or you can make it a little longer by going to the different viewpoints. The trailhead is located right at the Munising Falls Visitor Center. 

It’s about a 5 minute walk to get to the straight on waterfall viewpoint. And then there are stairs that you can take to get to the 2 more viewpoints.

Munising Falls: See more about this Pictured Rocks activity

 

 

2. Sand Point Beach

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: sand point beach, lake superior. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This is said to be usually the warmest water temperature you’ll find in Pictured Rocks for swimming in Lake Superior.

 

 

3. Miners Castle Overlook

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: miners castle overlook. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This is one of the most popular spots in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. There are 2 overlooks you can walk to in order to see the iconic Miners Castle Point. You can also hike to Miners Beach from here. (Coming up on the list.)

 

 

4. Miners Falls

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: miners falls. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This is another shorter waterfall visit that you can do. It’s listed as 1.2 miles round trip, and there are some stairs. The trail will take you to an overlook of the waterfalls.

Miners Falls: See more about this Pictured Rocks activity

 

 

5. Miners Beach

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: miners beach. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This is a sandy beach you can visit. There’s a parking lot for the easy access to Miners Beach.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: miners beach. UP Michigan travel blog

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: miners beach. UP Michigan travel blog

 

Or if you’re looking to go hiking in Pictured Rocks, you can hike to Miners Beach too. There is a trail that goes from the Miners Castle overlook to Miners Beach, and this would be around 2 miles round trip, although it can be more or less depending on how much you walk around the overlooks and at the beach.

 

 

6. Elliott Falls

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: elliott falls, miners beach falls. UP Michigan travel blog

 

Hike further along Miners Beach and you can see small waterfalls flowing into Lake Superior!

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: elliott falls, miners beach falls. UP Michigan travel blog

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: elliott falls, miners beach falls. UP Michigan travel blog

 

These waterfalls may also be called the Miners Beach Falls.

You can either make it a beach walk by walking directly on the beach to the east end of Miners Beach (right side as you’re face the lake). Or there’s a hiking trail that’s runs a bit higher up, and you can make it a hike from above with Lake Superior views!

 

 

7. Chapel Falls

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: chapel falls. UP Michigan travel blog

 

You can take the trail to see Chapel Falls, and then you can go further where you can walk along a creek, see smaller waterfalls, and there’s also another overlook of Chapel Falls that gives you views of the waterfalls from a distance.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: river walk to chapel falls. UP Michigan travel blog

 

 

See more about this Pictured Rocks activity: Chapel Falls Trail

 

This can be a hike with a few things to see if you go further than the waterfalls! (Next up on the list!)

 

 

8. Chapel Rock

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: chapel rock, tree growing on a rock. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This is another unique geological formation. It’s a tree growing on a rock! There are Pictured Rocks boat tours that go by this so you can see it from the water.

You can also hike to Chapel Rock to see it up close and personal. You will continue following the Chapel Falls Trail past the waterfalls to the shoreline.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: chapel rock, tree growing on a rock. UP Michigan travel blog

 

 

See more about this Pictured Rocks activity: Chapel Rock hike

 

 

9. Chapel Beach

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: chapel beach. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This is a popular sandy beach that you hike to get to.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: chapel beach. UP Michigan travel blog

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: chapel beach. UP Michigan travel blog

 

Once again the access to Chapel Beach can be Chapel Falls Trail. You go past further than Chapel Falls, and further past Chapel Rock, and you will reach Chapel Beach! 

 

 

10. Chapel Beach Falls

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: chapel beach falls, waterfalls flowing into lake superior. UP Michigan travel blog

 

And then also notable at Chapel Beach is another spot in Pictured Rocks where you can see some small waterfalls flowing onto the beach, and flowing into Lake Superior!

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: chapel beach falls, waterfalls flowing into lake superior. UP Michigan travel blog

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: chapel beach falls, waterfalls flowing into lake superior. UP Michigan travel blog

 

You’ll pass it shortly after you pass Chapel Rock.

Chapel Falls + Chapel Beach: See more about this Pictured Rocks activity

 

 

11. Chapel Loop Trail 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hike the chapel loop trail where to see pictured rocks cliffs by hiking. UP Michigan travel blog

 

And then, you can continue walking further along past Chapel Beach to hike the Chapel Loop Trail. This is THE hike you want to do if you want to see the famous Pictured Rocks cliffs by foot. It’s said to be the ONLY hike that you can see the famous Pictured Rocks cliffs by foot.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hike the chapel loop trail where to see pictured rocks cliffs by hiking. UP Michigan travel blog

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hike the chapel loop trail where to see pictured rocks cliffs by hiking. UP Michigan travel blog

 

If you hike the loop, it will be around 9-10 miles total, possibly more as you’ll want to walk around in various areas too! (Like around beach, and the side trails along the cliffs.)

 

 

12. Grand Portal Point

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hike to grand portal point. UP Michigan travel blog

 

There are various spots along the Chapel Loop Trail that you can see the cliffs, but one of the notable landmarks is Grand Portal Point. This is another landmark that you can see by boat too.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hike to grand portal point. UP Michigan travel blog

 

If you were to hike to Grand Portal Point and back (not as a loop) it would be around 9 miles round trip.

 

 

13. Mosquito Beach

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: mosquito beach. UP Michigan travel blog

 

If you hike the Chapel Loop Trail, this will also take you past Mosquito Beach. (The trail is also sometimes called the Chapel – Mosquito Loop for this reason.)

This isn’t really a typical beach, but more so an area of sandstone. You might enjoy bringing a light picnic lunch and eating it out here. (The same goes for a lot of other places on this list!)

Mosquito Beach is located near Mosquito River.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: mosquito river. UP Michigan travel blog

 

You can also hike directly to Mosquito Beach and back from the parking lot, not as a loop. This would be around 4 miles round trip.

 

 

14. Little Beaver campground

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: little beaver lake campground, pictured rocks camping. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This is a quieter campground and a more secluded campground. There’s a bumpy road to get to it and limited campsites available. It sits right on an inland lake, Little Beaver Lake. You can hike to a Lake Superior beach from the campground, explained next on the list.

 

 

15. Big Star Cove

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hike to big star cove. UP Michigan travel blog

 

The only way to get to the Big Star Cove is to hike to it. You can access it from the Little Beaver campground. You’ll first hike to Lake Superior (where you can access a sandy beach) which is about 1.5 miles away, and then continue on the trail to the left as you’re facing the lake to come across Big Star Cove shortly after that. This is a spot in Pictured Rocks where you can basically see the impact of the crumbling cliffs.

If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, this is one hike to choose. You can call this an “off-beat” location. This would be a little over 3 miles round trip.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hike to big star cove. UP Michigan travel blog

 

If you want to make it a longer hike, you can continue to hike further along the shoreline (map). This is also along the backpacking trail.

 

 

16. Spray Falls

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hike to spray falls. UP Michigan travel blog

 

Spray Falls is said to be best seen from a boat, but you can see it a little off in the distance by hiking too.

Going further along past Big Star Cove, you will come to a spot where you can kind of see the famous Spray Falls. This would be around an 8 mile round trip hike. You can also hike to Spray Falls from the other side, which would go past Chapel Beach. That would be around 10 miles round trip.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hike to spray falls. UP Michigan travel blog
Do you see Spray Falls?! 😜

 

 

Driving to Pictured Rocks from Grand Marais

Pictured Rocks map. Grand Marais map. Things to do in Pictured Rocks near Grand Marais. UP Michigan travel blog
Map of Grand Marais to east entrance of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

 

Okay, so now we are switching sides and switching directions.

This now will go in the order of east to west, so if you are entering Pictured Rocks from the Grand Marais side.

Your landmark for easy reference on this side can be the Grand Sable Visitor Center.

This is also the the side of Pictured Rocks that’s closest to Tahquamenon Falls and Whitefish Point. It can make sense to enter from this side after doing some eastern Upper Peninsula activities. On your way to Pictured Rocks, consider taking the slow scenic route and drive along the Grand Marais Truck Trail! This is a road that runs along Lake Superior, and you’ll find some shoreline access spots. It can make for a perfect stop!

See more about driving through Grand Marais to get to Pictured Rocks.

 

 

17. Sable Falls

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: Sable Falls, waterfalls hiking trail. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This is another relatively short hiking trail that will take you to see waterfalls.

 

 

18. Sable Beach

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: Sable beach, hiking trail. where to find colorful agate rocks in Pictured Rocks, in Upper peninsula. UP Michigan travel blog

 

After you see Sable Falls, you can continue on the same trail to reach Sable Beach. You’ll be able to see some sand dunes here.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: Sable beach, hiking trail. where to see grand sable dunes, sand dunes in Pictured Rocks, in Upper peninsula. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This is also where you can find colorful rocks. Look, but don’t take, though! As a part of the National Park Service, the beaches along Pictured Rocks are protected and you’re not supposed to take any rocks that are along the shores of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. (If you’re looking for Lake Superior beaches with colorful rocks that don’t seem to have any such restrictions, try some of the Eastern UP beaches on this list or the Keweenaw Peninsula beaches on this list.)

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: Sable beach, hiking trail. where to find colorful agate rocks in Pictured Rocks, in Upper peninsula. UP Michigan travel blog

 

Sable Falls + Sable Beach: See more about this Pictured Rocks activity

 

 

19. Grand Sable Dunes Loop Trail

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: Grand Sable dunes. where to see sand dunes in Pictured Rocks, in Upper peninsula. UP Michigan travel blog

 

From near the start of the Sable Falls Trail, you can also access a spot to see some nice sand dunes!

 

 

20. Log Slide Overlook

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: log slide overlook dunes. where to see sand dunes in Pictured Rocks, in Upper peninsula. UP Michigan travel blog

 

You can take a 5-10 minute or so walk from the parking lot to reach the Log Slide overlook. Here you can get great views of the Grand Sable Dunes.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: log slide overlook dunes. where to see sand dunes in Pictured Rocks, in Upper peninsula. UP Michigan travel blog

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: log slide overlook dunes. where to see sand dunes in Pictured Rocks, in Upper peninsula. UP Michigan travel blog

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: log slide overlook dunes. where to see sand dunes in Pictured Rocks, in Upper peninsula. UP Michigan travel blog

 

You can also make it a solid day hike to get to the Log Slide overlook and have this spot be your “destination”! (Explained next on the list.)

Log Slide: See more about this Pictured Rocks activity

 

 

21. Au Sable Lighthouse

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: au sable lighthouse, lake superior. where to see lighthouse in Pictured Rocks, in Upper peninsula. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This is THE Pictured Rocks lighthouse.

The only way to get to it is to hike to it.

You can hike to the Au Sable Lighthouse from Hurricane River (around 3 miles round trip). Or you can hike to it from the Log Slide (a little less than 5 miles round trip from the parking lot).

If you’re looking for a solid day hike, you can also hike from Hurricane River to the Log Slide and back (passing by the lighthouse) and that would be around 8 miles round trip, a hiking trail that goes along the coastline a lot and comes with lots of lake views. And then you can also go in the opposite direction, going from the Log Slide to Hurricane River.

In 2020 you could not go inside any of the lighthouse buildings since it was closed due to public healthy concerns, but you could still walk around the lighthouse grounds. In the past, lighthouse tours were around $3. See here for updates when your travel date gets closer.

 

 

22. Hurricane River (and beach)

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hurricane river, beach. where to see river flow into lake superior. UP Michigan travel blog

 

This is another river that’s special since it’s another river that empties out onto a beach and into Lake Superior! You can find some sandy beach here. 

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hurricane river, beach. where to see river flow into lake superior. UP Michigan travel blog

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hurricane river, beach. where to see river flow into lake superior. UP Michigan travel blog

 

 

23. Hurricane River campground

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: hurricane river campground, upper. UP Michigan travel blog

 

And right near the river is the campground. Actually there are 2. The lower Hurricane River campground and the upper Hurricane River campground.

The lower campground is closer to the beach and the hiking trail.

The upper campground is a tad inland and feels a bit more secluded. It’s a quarter of a mile from the beach and main hiking trail. There is a trail that connects the upper campground to the Hurricane River shoreline… or you can drive!

Hurricane River campground: See more about this Pictured Rocks activity

 

 

24. Lake Superior Overlook and beach

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: lake superior overlook beach. UP Michigan travel blog

 

A wide sandy beach to visit.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: lake superior overlook beach. UP Michigan travel blog

 

 

25. Twelvemile Beach

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: twelvemile beach, lake superior. UP Michigan travel blog

 

Another wide sandy beach to visit. This beach is… 12 miles long?! There is one main access point with a parking lot.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: twelvemile beach, lake superior. UP Michigan travel blog

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: twelvemile beach, lake superior. UP Michigan travel blog

 

Aside from that, you can access more of Twelvemile Beach by foot too. There’s a hiking trail (the North Country Trail) that pretty much runs all along Twelvemile Beach with a number of backcountry campsites.

 

 

26. Twelvemile Beach campground

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: twelvemile beach campground, lake superior. pictured rocks camping. UP Michigan travel blog

 

And possibly the best campground in Pictured Rocks! If you’re tent camping with a car or RV camping and looking for a campsite with lake views anyway! There are a ton of campsites where you can see Lake Superior right from your campsite!

And this is another way you can access Twelvemile Beach. You can find some beach access trails or sand dunes right behind some of the campsites.

 

Things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: twelvemile beach campground, lake superior. pictured rocks camping. UP Michigan travel blog

 

Twelvemile Beach campground: See more about this Pictured Rocks activity

 

 

How much time to spend in Pictured Rocks?

Take your pick and choose 2-3 activities on this list and you could have a perfect one day in Pictured Rocks!

Or, you could do ONLY the Chapel Loop Trail (that’s the Pictured Rocks cliff hike!) and you could leave Pictured Rocks thinking you had a perfect one day in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore!

I did everything on the main part of this list (the 20+ Pictured Rocks activities) with 4 days in Pictured Rocks, with the exception of Spray Falls.

My brother hiked one way on the North Country Trail alone from the Twelvemile Beach campground to Little Beaver Lake campground (around 11 miles one way), with a “side trip” to somewhere around Spray Falls. (Spray Falls is past Little Beaver Lake when hiking from Twelvemile Beach.) We met back up at Little Beaver Lake campground in the evening. If you are into long hikes, he said this stretch of the North Country Trail was among his favorite parts of hiking in Pictured Rocks, by the way!

Even though I did not see the Pictured Rocks cliffs from the water (aka I didn’t do the popular Pictured Rocks boat cruise or Pictured Rocks kayaking), I still found my visit to Pictured Rocks worthwhile.

And so, there are many FREE things to do in Pictured Rocks, and there are many ways to make a trip to Pictured Rocks worth it, whether that’s one day in Pictured Rocks, or 2 days, or 3 days… or more! It just depends on what type of trip you want it to be!

 

And those are some ideas on how to spend a few days in Pictured Rocks!

 

Plan more of your Upper Peninsula Michigan road trip:

 

HAPPY VISIT TO PICTURED ROCKS AND LAKE SUPERIOR!

 

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park: national lakeshores in Michigan. National parks in Michigan. where to see sand dunes in up. where to see pictured rocks cliffs. Upper Peninsula. UP. Michigan travel blog

 

 

There are affiliate links on this page. Among other partners, as an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from this.

Things to pack for your Michigan vacation!

The ultimate beach towel for travel?!
Turkish towels are considered to be more lightweight than your average beach towel while still being absorbent. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
How to be a little bit more eco-friendly during your road trip!
Instead of using plastic silverware, try out bamboo silverware like this set!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phone
You can beach-proof your phone with a simple waterproof phone case like this.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!
Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're swimming in Lake Michigan or Lake Superior! Less sunscreen also means less chemicals from that sunscreen will enter our precious Great Lakes!
Get your travel bags more organized!
Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.