Explore America's park logo Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula comprises more than 30 miles of shoreline along the south end of Lake Superior, the largest and deepest of the Great Lakes. And that stretch of shoreline includes more than a dozen miles of stunning sandstone cliffs rising 200 feet above the water.

The park contains a number of other lakes, ranging from the 762-acre Beaver Lake to the 10-acre Miners Lake. Hiking trails lead to several waterfalls where streams and rivers tumble over cliffs of limey sandstone. Bridalveil Falls and Spray Falls drop directly into Lake Superior and are best seen from a boat in the great lake.


The U.S. Congress authorized pictured Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore as the first national lakeshore on Oct. 15, 1966.

Things to do

The best way to see much of what makes Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore special — the sandstone cliffs stained red and orange; arches and caves carved by the waves — is from the cockpit of a sea kayak. There are kayak put-in points are Sand Point, Miners Beach, Twelvemile Beach and Hurricane River. Several backcountry campsites are accessible by kayak.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore also has 111 miles of hiking trail, including a 42-mile section of the North Country National Scenic Trail that when completed will travel more than 4,000 miles through seven states. Those with no interest in walking for 10 months will find a number of pleasant day hikes ranging from a quarter-mile trip along Munising Creek to a 50-foot waterfall to a three-mile roundtrip walk from the Hurricane River Campground to the Au Sable Light Station, built in 1874.

Why you’ll want to come back

The long winters provide opportunities for ice climbing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and ice fishing. Miners Falls offers a 40-foot column of ice for climbing. Ice curtains 20 to 50 feet high are found along Sand Point Road.

Flora and fauna

Visitors may run into black bears scrounging for food — some have learned to associate people with food. Other wildlife living in the varied habitat of wetland, sand dune, cliff, and northern hardwood forests include white-tailed deer, coyotes, muskrats, raccoons, porcupines and beavers. If you’re really lucky, you may spot a moose. If you’re really, really lucky, you may spot a wolf.

More than 170 species of birds have been documented at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore including peregrine falcons, osprey and bald eagles. You may also spot sandhill cranes.

By the numbers:

This is part of Explore America's Parks, a series of user's guides to national, state and local park systems across the United States. We'll be adding new parks all summer, so check back for more.

Inset photo of Chapel Rock: farlane/Flickr

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: A user's guide
The red and orange sandstone cliffs are best viewed from a kayak — but with 111 miles of hiking trail, you'll see many snapshot-worthy sites on foot, too.