(906) 387-5500

Experience Stunning, Clear Turquoise Lake Superior Waters Along Pictured Rocks Lakeshore

Kayakers in front of Pictured Rocks cliffs, enjoy the beauty of clear Lake Superior waters up closeEnjoying the beauty of Lake Superior up close.

What are Pictured Rocks?

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore can be found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the “UP”. Hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to take in the beauty of the park every year. It is known for its beautiful clear turquoise water, towering cliffs, sea caves, waterfalls, and dunes. One of the best ways to have your own unique experience on Lake Superior is on a guided Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tour.



Why Are the Waters of Lake Superior a Stunning, Clear Turquoise?

Kayakers getting a remarkably close look at the Pictured Rocks in clear turquoise water!Kayakers getting a closer look at the Pictured Rocks in the beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Superior.

Lake Superior is known for its beautiful and clear turquoise water, especially along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It’s the biggest and coldest among the Great Lakes, boasting the largest surface area of any freshwater lake in the world. It’s more like a sea than a lake — approximately the size of South Carolina. But what makes the water so stunning?


Reason #1: It’s Nutrient Poor

A drone photo of Lake Superior turquoise waters, near Pictured Rocks shoreline with kayakers around Chapel Rock

Lake Superior is what’s known as oligotrophic lake, with fewer dissolved nutrients relative to its gigantic water volume. Lower amounts of nutrients such as phosphorus means less algae and plant growth. The absence of algae keeps the water remarkably clear, allowing sunlight to penetrate. The average underwater visibility of Lake Superior is 27 feet (about 2.5 stories)!


Reason #2: Sunlight Scattering & Depth

The clear, turquoise waters near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

In general, bodies of water are blue because water absorbs colors in the orange and red part of the light spectrum — scattering and reflecting blue back to our eyes. The clearer waters of Lake Superior allows sunlight to travel far into the lake’s depths. The deeper the water, the more intense the scattering effect! This is why the turquoise color is especially vibrant in deeper sections along Pictured Rocks.


Reason #3: Pictured Rocks’ Unique Layers & Cliff-topping Forests

Miners Castle in Pictured Rocks, showcasing the cliffs topped by forests

Acting like natural filters to water entering the lake, the forests that top Pictured Rock’s cliffs and its layers of sandstone and rock further reduce the influx of nutrients that would fuel algae growth. It makes Pictured Rocks particularly unique in respect to water color and clarity. Despite this filtering, the lake and shoreline supports a healthy ecosystem of plankton, invertebrates, and cold water fish.

See Kayak Tour Dates & Learn More


Nature’s Masterpiece: Mineral Stains

Nature’s Masterpiece

While they’re less of a factor in the blue-green color, the iconic “Pictured Rocks” do contribute slightly. As groundwater seeps out of cracks in the rock, several elements and minerals are transported within the groundwater and are deposited as colorful stains. Red and orange stains are caused by iron, blue and green by copper, brown and black by manganese, and white by limonite. These minerals can stain the water in streaks, creating localized color effects that are almost like brush strokes.

Top 5 Scenic Hikes in Pictured Rocks


Diverse Coast and Great Visibility

Spray FallsSpray Falls. PC: @maymiejameson

Lake Superior’s coast is beautiful and diverse, ranging from sandy shores to high, rocky, boreal-forest-covered cliffs. Over 300 streams and rivers tumble into it. Superior’s waters are among the clearest on earth, with underwater visibility reaching 100 feet in some places.

Spray Falls tumbles seventy feet over cliffs before cascading into Lake Superior. Just beneath the falls, twenty feet underwater, lies the wreckage of the “Superior” ship that sank in 1856.

Top 10 Adventures to Check Off Your U.P. Bucket List


The Best Way to See It: Safety and Comfort

Safety and Comfort

While the Pictured Rocks is a popular area to kayak, it’s essential to be aware of the risks. Unpredictable weather patterns can arise at any moment and in the event of an emergency on Lake Superior, rescue may take several hours to arrive. Fortunately, there are guided kayak tours of the Pictured Rocks offered in Munising.

Why You Need to Take a Guided Pictured Rocks Kayak Tour


Pictured Rocks Kayaking is the only outfitter offered in Munising that has a kayak-launching boat that follows guests as they paddle along the park’s magical cliffs and sea caves. Because of this, paddlers will always be within a reasonable distance of restrooms and emergency help if needed. After exploring the best parts of the park from the water, kayakers get to enjoy a relaxing boat ride back to the mainland while admiring the stunning lakeshore.


Conquer Lake Superior Waters with a Kayaking Tour

Adventure Awaits!PC: Kerry Murphy

Looking for a fun, unique time in one of the most beautiful places in the United States? You too can enjoy an adventurous and safe kayaking experience on Lake Superior in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Check out Pictured Rocks Kayaking and plan your trip today!

Book Your Tour Today

Book A Tour