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

    Pictured Rocks

    National Lakeshore Michigan

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    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 »

Rivers and Streams

Sullivans Creek flows into Lake Superior at a beautiful white sand beach.

Sullivans Creek

NPS photo

The rivers and streams that flow to Lake Superior through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore have a relatively steep gradient and are rather short, because the peninsular divide in the area is much closer to Lake Superior than to Lake Michigan.

The steep gradient includes waterfalls, where the streams drop over the escarpment. The more prominent waterfalls within the lakeshore are Munising, Miners, Mosquito, Bridalveil, Chapel, Spray, and Sable Falls. Especially noticeable at the waterfalls is the brown color of the water due to humic acids that originate from decaying vegetation in the headwaters.

The discharge (rate of flow) of the streams is highest in the late spring and early summer following snowmelt. In addition, these streams are very responsive to rainfall, and will rise immediately following a significant rain. Discharge can double for a day or so after a rainstorm.

Miners River is the longest and largest river in the lakeshore. Its discharge near the mouth averages 46 cubic feet per second during June and drops to an average of 21 cubic feet per second in late summer and fall. The Hurricane and Mosquito Rivers have similar discharges during spring and early summer (19 cubic feet per second), but that of the Mosquito River drops more significantly as the summer progresses.

Munising, Chapel, Section 34, Spray, Sevenmile, Beaver, Rhody, Sullivan, and Sable Creeks are shorter and carry less water. Beaver Creek and Sable Creek flow from lakes and have more stable discharges, because the lakes buffer the effects of precipitation.

The substrates of the streams are variously composed of cobble/gravel, sand, and bedrock. The substrate in depositional areas along the banks and upstream from beaver dams is mud/silt. Most pools are formed by the force of water flowing over trees that have fallen into the streams.

The quality of the water of the inland lakes, rivers, and streams is directly related to the watersheds they drain. The majority of the shoreline zone's rivers and creeks have headwaters that occur in the Inland Buffer Zone and the surrounding region. Management of these areas can affect the quality of the national lakeshore's water bodies.

Did You Know?

Chapel Lake is shown with fall colors, a beautifu view of the northwoods in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Chapel Lake is one of several plunge pool lakes created by post glacial rivers after the Marquette advance of the most recent ice age. Its greatest depth is 140 feet. Other plunge pool lakes include Deer Lake and Ginpole Lake in Alger County, home of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. More...