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, which are best seen from the water. Red and orange are iron, green and blue are copper, black is manganese, and white is limonite.
How's the weather?
Lake Superior generally keeps summers cooler and winters warmer than inland areas. Summertime highs can reach the 90s with much cooler evening temperatures. Daytime temperatures in the 60s to low 80s are more common. Typically, winter temperatures are below freezing. Average annual snow total is between 140 - 160 inches. Layered clothing for changing weather is recommended. more...
Are pets allowed in the park?
Pets are permitted in designated developed areas of the lakeshore including picnic areas, the Sand Point and Miners Beach areas, Miners Castle, 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 or on any hiking trail. more...
When is black fly season?
As a general rule, black fly season runs from mid-May through mid-June. In addition, you may experience mosquitos, no-see-ums, stable flies (most active in hot humid weather!), and other biting insects when you visit Pictured Rocks. Be prepared with insect repellent 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. Guided kayak tours are also available. 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?
Autumn colors are usually 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. A second color season when the tamaracks turn gold occurs in late October - early November.
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 national 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-served basis; campers self-register and pay the fee at the campground. Drive-in campgrounds are usually filled every day of the busy summer season between July 4 and Labor Day. Campers hoping for a spot need to arrive early in the morning. When our campgrounds are full, please refer to the Nearby Campgrounds webpage for other options. more...
Backcountry (hike-in) campsites must be reserved in advance. For information, please refer to our backcountry webpage.
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 backcountry 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...
Can we pick blueberries?
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 park's 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.
Last updated: July 9, 2018