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Along the northern coast of Michigan's northern peninsula, travelers can find the stunning beauty of Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. Here, towering cliffs are painted in red, orange, blue, green, black, and white. With Autumn approaching, the leaves of the surrounding forest will soon add their own variety to their mix of color.

Travelers looking for incredible ones-in-a-lifetime cliffside views should absolutely check out Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. It offers travelers a variety of ways to experience the beauty of Picture Rocks.


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Along Michigan's northern peninsula’s coast, Picture Rocks towers over Lake Superior. These cliffs reach 50 to 200 feet into the air dominating the shoreline. The cliffs begin to the east of Sand Point and continue east for about 15 miles. Seepage from the minerals within the cliffs gives them vibrant colors that can be clearly viewed from the water. Shades of red, orange, green, blue, black, and white paint these cliffs creating a stunning image. Their name itself references how they appear to be like a painted picture.

  • Red and Orange - Iron
  • Green and Blue - Copper
  • Black - Manganese
  • White - Limonite.
  • Height - 50 to 200 feet

The Best Ways To View The Pictured Rocks?

Travelers arriving at Picture Rocks National Lakeshore will have a variety of ways to experience the beautiful landscape. There is a two-hour national park service-authorized non-stop boat cruise that travelers can partake in for some of the best views. There are also guided kayak tours available for those that would prefer the view from closer to the water. There are also a variety of hikes in the area that give travelers an excellent opportunity to explore while staying on dry land.

Non-Stop Boat Cruise

Pictured Rocks Cruises is a national park-authorized tour that offers travelers a non-stop narrated boat tour. It usually takes between two and two and half hours to make the 40-mile trip along the spectacular sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Cruises are usually available from mid-May to Mid-October.

  • Company - Pictured Rocks Cruises, Inc.
  • Address - P.O. Box 255 Munising MI 49862
  • Contact - 800-650-2379 or 906-387-2379
  • Non-stop Boat Cruise - More Information

Related: Lake Michigan Weekend: These Small Towns Are Chicago Road-Trip Worthy

Kayak Tours

There are a few kayak tour groups that operate in and around Picture Rocks. This leaves travelers who want to experience the cliffs by kayak with a challenging choice. However, here is a list of tour companies with official CUAs (Commercial Use Authorizations) allowing them to offer guided tours within the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. This is the list for the 2022 season, which is important to note as the list may change every year.


With a hundred miles worth of hiking trails, Picture Rocks National Lakeshore offers its visitors incredible access to its waterfalls, beaches, forest wilderness, cultural sites, and stunning cliff-top views of Lake Superior. There are quick hikes for those who may not have long, and there are long hikes for travelers who want to invest more of their day.

  • Sand Point Marsh Trail - Length: 0.5-mile loop. Trail Map
  • Munising Falls - Length: 800 feet one way. Trail Map
  • Miners Castle Overlook - Length varies 200 to 1300 feet one way. Trail Map
  • Miners Castle to Miners Beach - Length: 2 miles roundtrip. Trail Map
  • AuSable Light Station - Length: 3.0 miles roundtrip. Trail Map
  • More Information

Miners Castle Overlook

One of the most famous landmarks at Pictured Rocks is Miners Castle Overlook. Its cliff area is accessible by vehicle, and leashed pets are also permitted. The location is incredibly accessible with a short, paved, and wheelchair-accessible trail that leads to the interpretive exhibits and then to the lower overlook next to Miners Castle. The rocks were formed by ages of erosion and are still changing today.

Peak Fall Foliage Color Season

For lovers of Fall foliage, that time of year is coming quickly. In Picture Rocks, Fall Foliage starts fairly early, with peak season being between the last week of September and the first ten days of October. This is an incredibly popular time to come to Picture Rocks, and for a good reason. Seeing the blending colors of the cliffs and leaves is a bucket-list experience. So, travelers should plan their trips early so they don’t miss out.

  • Peak Fall Foliage - Last week in September to the first ten days of October

Related: No Car Needed: Spend Summer Vacation On This Michigan Island

Avoid Black Fly Season

One thing travelers should be wary of when planning a trip to Picture Rocks National Lakeshore is to avoid black fly season. It is generally between mid-May and mid-June, and it can really put a damper on outdoor activities. However, simply avoid this time frame, and travelers should have a great time.

  • Black Fly Season - Mid-May through Mid-June