Turnip Rock And Thumbnail Photo By Amanda Shaffer

Explore the Majestic Turnip Rock on a Scenic Boat Tour

Turnip Rock. The name itself is enough to make you raise your eyebrows.

Turnip Rock was formed from waves undercutting it, making it into its unique formation.

Visiting Turnip Rock has been on my own Michigan Bucket List since it was nominated for consideration many years ago to be named one of Michigan’s Seven Wonders. While it didn’t make this list, it stayed on mine (and Awesome Mitten’s Ultimate Michigan Summer Bucket List).

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At the dock for Turnip Rock Boat Tours photo by Amanda Shaffer

Turnip Rock Boat Tours

Visiting Turnip Rock had eluded me for all of my previous visits to Port Austin. Either time was limited, or the weather wasn’t cooperating.

Recently on a family vacation to Port Austin, I called Turnip Rock Boat Tours to see if I would be able to get out on the water for a tour during our visit. The forecast for our vacation didn’t look great, but by fate, the skies cleared just enough for an early morning trip out. 

I met Larry, my captain, at the dock and was the only rider for the morning, the water was flat, but we knew it would soon be a different look altogether with the weather forecast, so we quickly loaded the six-passenger boat and made our way out of the marina. 

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Port Austin Reef Lighthouse photo by Amanda Shaffer

Port Austin Reef Lighthouse

You can expect an hour to a half trip for a regularly scheduled tour out to view Turnip Rock. While you won’t stop at the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse, you will go around it, and the views you get will be a pleasant addition to your tour.

The reef is currently under construction, but separate tours are offered. I would bookmark this if you are a lighthouse fan and plan to take a tour in the future.

Seeing the lighthouse so close was a completely different experience from viewing it from the breakwater path, and it was amazing to see it up so close. 

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Turnip Rock and the Thumbnail photo by Amanda Shaffer

A New Perspective

When first arriving to view Turnip Rock, I was shocked at how close it actually sat to the shore of the small peninsula of Pointe Aux Barques.

Most of the photos that circulate of the formation are from the viewpoint of looking out to Lake Huron instead of in at the shoreline, often making it appear several yards off the shore of the private gated community instead of just a few. 

Another famed but lesser known formation is the extreme tip of the peninsula is coined the Thumbnail. What was great about the tour was the bit of history lesson you got while driving around the formation.

I have always been a bit of a history fan, so hearing stories and having things pointed out to me in real time was a treat. 

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Turnip Rock by boat photo by Amanda Shaffer

Getting Up Close

When conditions allow, you’ll get close enough to touch the famed sea stack. Because the water was so flat at the time, I could touch the rock where waves have crashed over the years and cut away, making it take its Turnip-like form.

I was happy to be in the company of a retired charter boat captain as he navigated the waters effortlessly. While it may seem like a simple ride to view this landmark, there are rocky spots surrounding Turnip Rock, and because the water was so clear and shallow, I was actually able to see markings from where boats had snagged rocks. 

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Turnip rock photo by Amanda Shaffer

Safety is the Priority

Because the land surrounding Turnip Rock is privately owned, the only way to visit it is through water access. This can make planning your trip out to Turnip Rock a bit more challenging, as everyone that has been on one of the Great Lakes knows that they can often be unpredictable and change quickly.

The Turnip Rock Tours’ number one priority is your safety, and they will take that into account when they make a reservation for your trip. 

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A kayak rental from Port Austin Kayak photo by Amanda Shaffer

Other Considerations for Your Turnip Rock Visit

Because of the shallow water, we could not go 360 degrees around the rock formation, so if you are looking for that photo of the rock framed by the waters of Lake Huron, I would highly suggest renting kayaks from Port Austin Kayak.

They have different kayak rental options depending on what you are looking for from your trip. You will need to be in relatively good physical condition and be comfortable on the water, as the trip out to Turnip Rock is about a seven-mile round trip.

Kayaking out to Turnip Rock is still on my own personal Michigan Bucket List, but because of the forecasted weather and having my three-year-old in tow, a shorter kayak rental made more sense for our visit and taking a tour by boat.

Often when making plans in Michigan, you just have to be flexible and work with a plan B. This makes for more realistic expectations and a more enjoyable trip for everyone. 

Port Austin Dime Store
Souvenir Port Austin Dime Store photo by Amanda Shaffer

Experience Everything Port Austin Has to Offer

For more summer adventure inspiration while you are in Port Austin, check out the ULTIMATE Guide to Port Austin and Caseville Michigan.

One Comment

  1. Very nice article written by a very nice woman. It was my pleasure to meet her and show her one of the coolest place in lower Michigan.

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