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Pictured Rocks Kayaking in Midwest 2024

Paddle along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the waters of Lake Superior in Michigan

Best time: late May–September

Pictured Rocks Kayaking
Pictured Rocks Kayaking
Pictured Rocks Kayaking

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is located along the south shore of Lake Superior in Upper Michigan’s Peninsula. Dramatic multicolored cliffs attract thousands of visitors and are among the most photographed sites of the state. The most famous sandstone formations are Miners Castle and Chapel Rock. The best way to explore the 60-meter (200-foot) cliffs is to get up close on a kayak. Boating and kayaking tours are usually offered from Memorial Day to September.

Most kayaking tours of the central section of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore start in Miners Beach, Munising. Miners Beach has a parking lot and a spacious sandy beach that is perfect for launching a kayak and relaxing before and after the trip.

Kayakers can enjoy the views of scenic Lake Superior, surrounding forest and the Bridalveil Falls. Then you will pass colorful sandstone cliffs, some of them hanging over you. If you go for some 4.8 km (3 mi) to the east, you can reach Mosquito Beach and explore the caves of the Bloody Chiefs. Several more miles eastwards along the cliffs will take you to the rock arch called Lovers Leap.

Another option to see the cliffs is aboard a 17-meter (56-foot) passenger vessel and launch your kayak from there exploring all the famous spots in one trip. The tour begins at the East Channel of Munising Bay. The boat then holds a course into Lake Superior where kayakers explore Painted Coves. Later on, they are taken back to the shore by the boat.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for kayaking?

Kayaking at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is best between May and September due to predictable weather conditions and calm Lake Superior waters. To ensure the safety of your voyage, it is recommended to verify weather forecasts since wind and waves can impact it. Show more

Where is the starting point for most kayaking tours in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore?

Most kayaking tours in the central Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore depart from Munising's Miners Beach. One can relax on the sandy beach—fit for launching a kayak—after or before the waterborne adventure. As other tours might have a different starting point, contacting each operator is best for specific tour information. Show more

What are the famous sandstone formations in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore?

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is renowned for sandstone formations such as Miners Castle and Chapel Rock. Miners Castle is a castle tower-shaped rock that extends into Lake Superior. The unique Chapel Rock stands alone, with a single rooted pine tree. Other noteworthy formations include Bridalveil Falls, Mosquito Beach, and Lovers Leap, among others. Show more

How long does it take to reach Mosquito Beach from Miners Beach by kayak?

If you paddle about 4.8 km (3 miles), Mosquito Beach is 40 min away from Miners Beach by kayak. You will appreciate cliffs, formations of various hues including Bridalveil Falls, and Bloody Chiefs’ caves. You can explore the caves before carrying on your venture to landmarks such as Lovers Leap. Show more

Is there an alternative way to explore the cliffs apart from kayaking tours?

Passengers can opt for vessel tours instead of kayak tours to explore Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore's cliffs. This guided tour covers the same landmarks as kayaking tours, but with the added benefit of not needing kayaking experience and being more relaxed. Booking tickets in advance during peak season is recommended to evade frustration. Show more

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