• Indianhead Point stands tall along the Pictured Rocks. Photo copyright Craig Blacklock

    Pictured Rocks

    National Lakeshore Michigan

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  • Grand Sable Dunes temporary closure to all public entry for visitor safety

    Grand Sable Dunes are rapidly eroding into Sable Creek and Lake Superior. The area from the Ghost Forest Trail north to Lake Superior then along the shoreline to the west side of Sable Creek is temporarily closed. Follow closure signs for your safety. More »

Environmental Factors

This far-away photo of Miners Beach was taken from the trail to Miners Castle, through snow-covered trees.

Miners Beach through the trees

Lars Jensen photo

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is located approximately 46 degrees north latitude and 86 degrees west longitude. The coldest months average well below 0°C (32°F) and the warmer months about 22°C (70°F).

Lake Superior greatly ameliorates temperature extremes, slowing spring warming and the onset of winter. The average date of the last freezing temperature in spring is June 8, and the average first fall freeze is September 23; however, freezing can occur during any month. The freeze-free period, or growing season, averages 107 days annually.

The big lake's presence also increases precipitation in the park. Annual precipitation averages 79 cm (31 inches); annual snowfall is 320 cm (126 inches). Snow generally covers the ground from late November through late April.

The park is within the second-most cloudy region of the United States, characterized by an annual mean cloud cover of 70 percent. Much of the cloudiness occurs in autumn and winter and can be attributed to cooler air flowing over Lake Superior being warmed along the shore, rising and forming clouds. This condition also often results in rain, fog, and snow. Lake-effect snow is a common feature of this climate and occurs when air moving across the lake is significantly cooler than the warmer lake surface. Cold winds sweeping across long expanses of warmer lake water can pick up a great deal of water vapor, which freezes and is deposited on the leeward shores.

The prevailing wind is from the west, with average velocities ranging from 12 to 15 kilometers per hour (7 to 9 mph). High winds and storm conditions on Lake Superior are not uncommon. The highest recorded one-minute wind speed is 98 kilometers per hour (59 mph).

 
 

Did You Know?

Spray Falls drops 70 feet over the Pictured Rocks cliffs into Lake Superior.

There are seven named waterfalls within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, plus several unnamed falls. From west to east, they are Munising, Bridalveil, Miners, Mosquito, Chapel, Spray, and Sable Falls. The sandstone outcrops of the Pictured Rocks escarpment create the many waterfalls in the area. More...