Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Pictured Rocks?
The Pictured Rocks are sandstone cliffs rising 50 to 200 feet directly up from Lake Superior. The cliffs begin just east of Sand Point and stretch for about 15 miles. Mineral seepage creates the colors. Red and orange are iron, green and blue are copper, black is manganese, and white is lime.
How's the weather?
Summertime highs can reach the 90s with much cooler evening temperatures. Temperatures in the 70s and 80s are more common. Typically, winter temperatures are below freezing. Layered clothing for changing weather is recommended. more...
Are pets allowed in the park?
Pets are permitted in designated developed areas at the lakeshore including picnic areas, the Sand Point and Miners Beach areas, drive-in campgrounds, and the Lake Superior beaches directly in front of the drive-in campgrounds. Pets must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times. Pets are not permitted in the Lakeshore backcountry. more...
When is black fly season?
As a general rule, black fly season runs from mid-May through mid-June. People often mistake stable flies for black flies. In addition, you may experience mosquitos, no-see-ums, and other biting insects when you visit Pictured Rocks. Be prepared with insect repellant and protective clothing. more...
What is the best way to view the Pictured Rocks?
A National Park Service authorized concessioner-operated non-stop boat cruise offers an easy, comprehensive, and close-up view of the Pictured Rocks. Significant portions of the sandstone formations may be reached by land. You may drive directly to Miners Castle, the most well-known feature of the Pictured Rocks, which has a handicapped accessible viewing platform. Another option is to day hike, especially the Chapel-Mosquito trail.
When is peak color season?
Generally speaking, autumn colors are at their peak either the last week in September or the first week in October. The "peak" weekend is hard to predict. Consider planning your visit earlier rather than later. Remaining green leaves enhance the autumn colors. A heavy rain or windy day can knock down many of the autumn leaves if your visit is later.
Do your campgrounds have electricity or showers?
The drive-in campgrounds at Pictured Rocks are rustic, and do not have electrical hookups, hot water, sewer hookups, or telephones. Cell phone service is typically not available throughout much of the Lakeshore. more...
How can we reserve a campsite?
Sorry, we don't take reservations for drive-in campgrounds. They are available on a first-come, first-serve basis; campers self-register and pay the fee at the campground. For information on reserving backcountry (hike-in) campsites, please refer to our backcountry webpages. more...
Are campfires allowed in the backcountry campgrounds?
Campfires are only permitted in the community metal fire rings within the campgrounds; use only dead and down wood. Small backpacking stoves may be used at individual campsites. Fires are not permitted at the Chapel Beach and Mosquito River campgrounds. more...
Is drinking water available in the backcountry?
Water from streams and lakes is available at most backcountry campgrounds. Water must be boiled for one full minute or filtered through a 1-micron filter before it is used. Water is not available at the Cliffs, Potato Patch, or Masse Homestead campgrounds. more...
Are there pictographs at Pictured Rocks?
No pictographs (rock paintings) or petroglyphs (rock pecking) have been discovered within the Lakeshore’s 42 miles of Lake Superior shoreline. Because the Lakeshore’s friable sandstone bedrock is relatively soft and large collapses of rock occur annually, it is unlikely that any rock paintings that may have been done in the past have survived. Pictographs are more common in Minnesota’s boundary waters region and in adjacent portions of Canada. An impressive panel of pictographs is a feature of the human history of Lake Superior Provincial Park in Ontario.
Did You Know?
In 1992, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore began installing photovoltaic powered well pump systems at its drive-in campgrounds. All remote water wells within the lakeshore are now solar-powered. More...