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7 Amazing Facts About the Pictured Rocks

Kayakers paddle along the colorful cliffs of the Pictured Rocks.Kayakers paddle along the colorful cliffs of the Pictured Rocks and take in interesting facts during their guided tour.

Whether you want to kayak, boat or enjoy miles of hiking and biking trails in the summertime, or snowmobile, ski or explore frozen waterfalls and ice caves in the winter, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a year-round destination with something for everyone.

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The area draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, and the reasons are undeniable. Here are seven incredible facts of the Pictured Rocks that will have you eager to experience it firsthand:


1. Why Are They Called Pictured Rocks?

The streaks of color on the Pictured Rocks cliffs.Multicolored streaks of minerals stain on cliffs in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

The cliffs in the Pictured Rocks park soar between 50 and 200 feet over beautiful Lake Superior. The rock face is stained by vibrant colors from minerals like iron and manganese that are found in the water. While often mistaken as the “Painted Rocks,” the name Pictured Rocks refers to the colors from lake minerals only; there are no pictographs (rock paintings) or petroglyphs (rock peckings) within the national lakeshore.

Why Pictured Rocks is a Bucket List Destination


2. Monumental Wave Action on Lake Superior

A wavy day at Miners Castle in the Pictured Rocks parkA wavy day at Miners Castle in the Pictured Rocks park. PC: National Park Service

The Pictured Rocks are located between the cities of Munising and Grand Marais on the southern shore of Lake Superior. A force to be reckoned with – the big lake is known to cast waves as tall as 40 feet.

Needless to say, the weather in the area is highly influenced by Superior so it’s imperative to stay vigilant and keep an eye on the forecast at all times, especially when planning a trip on the water.

Guided Pictured Rocks boat and kayak tours in Munising are suggested to see the best parts of the park safely.

Kayaking the Pictured Rocks


3. Autumn Colors – the Best in the Country?

Color change at Sand Point BeachColor change at Sand Point Beach. PC: Instagrammer @maymiejameson

Did you know the U.P. has been recognized countless times as the best place to view autumn colors in the entire U.S.?

The optimal time to witness fall foliage in all its glory is either during the final week of September or within the first ten days of October, although it’s difficult to foresee the precise “peak” weekend. To maximize your chances of catching the best display, it’s wise to plan your visit ahead of time.

Experience the Fall Season in Pictured Rocks


4. You Can Climb Waterfalls in Pictured Rocks

Climbers during Michigan Ice Fest in Munising, the largest ice climbing festival in the MidwestClimbers during Michigan Ice Fest in Munising, the largest ice climbing festival in the Midwest. PC: National Park

Michigan Ice Fest, the largest event of its kind in the Midwest, takes place in the Pictured Rocks every year. The combination of cold temperatures, waterfalls, lake-effect snow, and water seeping out of the rock layers of porous sandstone cliffs creates phenomenal ice curtains and columns.

Why Pictured Rocks is a Bucket List Destination


5. How Old Are Pictured Rocks?

Castle Rock, best seen by waterThe layers of sandstone towards the bottom of Castle Rock are ancient. Kayakers often reach out to touch this history. PC: Tim Trombley

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore contains ancient red sandstone called “Jacobsville Sandstone”. Rising just a few feet above lake level, the oldest rocks visible in Pictured Rocks were deposited between 1 billion and 500 million years ago during the Precambrian period! The

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6. You Can Kayak through Sea Caves

You Can Kayak through Sea Caves

Paddle through sea caves and see a sandstone castle with Pictured Rocks Kayaking, the only outfitter in Munising that launches you into the water by boat!

Top 7 Highlights of a Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tour


Now offering a 3-hour Miners Castle tour, passengers can explore the caves of the most popular sandstone formation in the park! Otherwise, their 5-hour tour features Lovers Leap, Grand Portal Point, Chapel Rock and Cove, and so much more.

Everything You Need to Know About Pictured Rocks Kayaking


7. There are Over 7 Waterfalls in Pictured Rocks

Spray Falls in the Pictured Rocks. See by boat.Spray Falls in the Pictured Rocks. See by boat. PC: Munising Visitors Bureau

Nature’s artistic flair is on full display at Pictured Rocks as over 7 majestic waterfalls can be found within the national lakeshore! These cascades range from thunderous torrents carving through gorges to gentle trickles cascading into Lake Superior.

How to Have a Romantic Weekend in Pictured Rocks


Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tours: Find More Fascinating Facts

There’s plenty more to learn about the storied lakeshore. A guided Pictured Rocks Kayaking tour is the best way to explore and will leave you with lifelong memories. Reserve your spot on a tour today!

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