It’s no secret that our state’s biggest assets are our natural resources. From the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes to the Porcupine Mountains, we are truly blessed. Without a doubt, one of the crown jewels is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
The easiest and most enjoyable way to truly experience the vastness and splendor of Pictured Rocks on any #MittenTrip to Munising is to stare up at their towering walls from the waterline. It is only from this angle that you can truly appreciate just how magnificent the cliffs are in all of their splendor. There are two ways to get this kind of view: you can take a kayak out under your own power, or you can leave the transportation up to someone else and take a Pictured Rocks Cruise. The cruises leave from the docks in Munising Bay several times each day, so it’s easy to work the trip into any vacation.
There are three possibilities for the kind of boat tours that you can take. The Regular Cruise is the perfect length and gives you a great tour of a large portion of the rocks. It’s a two and a half hour boat ride that takes you east along the base of the rocks. The crew narrates the majority of the cruise and they include local lore, geological facts, and entertaining stories. Also, they slow the boat down at all of the big attractions to make sure that you can properly appreciate each one.
One of my favorite sections of the Pictured Rocks Boat tour comes at the end of the Regular cruise when Chapel Rock appears. It is a very unique sandstone formation with three pillars, and atop the pillars sits a solitary pine tree. The fact that this tree has grown on the top of Chapel Rock is in and of itself a true feat. However, the view from the east truly shows the tree’s resilience; the main roots of the tree span a stretch of roughly fifteen feet, through the air, back to the mainland searching for water and nutrients.
Before heading back to the harbor the boat motors over past the East Channel Lighthouse. This iconic lighthouse guided sailors safely into the harbor for many years before being decommissioned. It was renovated about a decade ago in order to preserve its historical nature. The captain of the boat slows down and pivots the boat around so that passengers on both sides can get a full view of the lighthouse.
The Pictured Rocks cruise is by far the best way to see a large swath of the rocks in the shortest amount of time. The crew will make sure that your trip is informative and fun. From Miners Castle to Battleship Row, you will be in awe the entire time. Whichever trip you decide to take, make sure that you get to the docks 30 minutes before your scheduled departure to make sure that you get the best seats. I suggest sitting on the right side near the rear of the boat because you get a prime viewing on the way out and you can stand up to take pics without bothering other passengers.
*Other tours include Spray Falls Cruise, which adds another waterfall, and the Sunset Cruise at twilight.
Do you have recommendations for the best ways to experience Pictured Rocks?