• 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 »

Winter Camping

A winter camper took off his skis and posed next to large icicles created from seepage along the Pictured Rocks cliffs.

Icicles along the Pictured Rocks

Kai Petainen Photo

Your Safety Comes First!
As you can imagine, winter is one of the best times to be completely prepared!

An unexpected slip into a creek, the loss of a tarp in a blizzard, a broken ski binding can quickly spell disaster. The old scout adage of “Be Prepared” is the best medicine.

The lakeshore staff encourage you to carefully plan your winter excursion into the park. Here are a few helpful suggestions.

  • Before you leave home, let someone know where you are going, how long you plan to be out, a description of your vehicle, where it will be parked, and when you plan to return. Write It Down!
  • Take plenty of liquids and snacks or food along with you ... maybe a little to spare in case something should happen.
  • Take repair materials for skis, snowshoes, or your snowmobile.
  • Don’t expect your cell phone to work in the park. Many areas do not receive reception due to a lack of towers, cloudy conditions, hilly topography and heavy forest cover.
  • If you are camping overnight, be sure to obtain a backpacking permit at the Interagency Visitor Center in Munising.
  • Know the local weather forecast and watch the weather. A southeast or northeast wind will often preceed a heavy snowfall.
  • Take a compass and map and know how to use them. It is easy to get turned around in portions of the lakeshore when the days are short and the clouds block the sun.
  • Realize that the park ranger staff is reduced in winter and response times are extended due to winter conditions.

Having considered all of this, remember that winter is one of the most incredible seasons at the lakeshore. You will likely see very few people, a lot of animal tracks, and will be able to enjoy a type of solitude unknown at other times of the year. Happy trekking!

 

Regulations
Backcountry camping regulations are different for winter. However, a backcountry permit is required year-round. The fee is $5 per person, per night ($15 reservation fee).

  • A snow depth of 6 inches or more is required for winter camping rules to take effect.
  • Winter camping is permitted in drive-in campgrounds without charge.
  • Winter camping is permitted off park roads beyond a distance of 100 feet.
  • Use of stoves is required - campfires are not permitted unless you build them in fire rings in developed front or backcountry sites.
  • Winter camping is permitted beyond 100 feet of a creek, river or lake.
  • Overnight camping in parking lots is not permitted.
 
Areas closed to winter camping include...
All that portion of Sand Point described as the area below the top of the bluff in Sections 19 and 30, T47N, R18W, and that area situated within the corporate limits of the City of Munising, including the Sand Point Road.

  • The area within 150 yards of the Miners Castle overlooks, paved walkways, and vehicle parking lot. Also 100 feet from the centerline of the paved Miners Castle Road, and the area within 100 feet of Miners Falls parking lot, trail, and associated platforms.
  • The area within 100 feet of the Little Beaver backpacker parking lot.
  • The area within 100 feet of the Log Slide parking lot, platforms, and walkways.
  • The area within 100 feet of the Grand Sable Lake picnic area and parking lot, the Grand Sable Lake boat launch and parking lot, and the Grand Sable Lake overlook parking lot.
  • The area within 150 yards of the Sable Falls parking lot and building, to include the viewing platforms and associated walkway system to the mouth of Sable Creek. Also included is the area 100 feet from the centerline of the paved Sable Falls Road.
  • The area within 150 yards of the structures comprising the Grand Marais quarters and maintenance facility.
  • The 8.6 acre tract comprising structures and lands administered by the National Park Service on Coast Guard Point in Grand Marais.
 
For more information ...
Winter Camping and Ice Climbing (pdf)

 

Did You Know?

The purple flower of spotted knapweed, a non-native invasive species, is shown with Pitcher's thistle, an endangered species.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is home to two arctic disjuncts, plants whose normal range is far to the north. Arctic crowberry and thimbleberry thrive because of the cool and moist microclimates caused by Lake Superior. More...