Your Safety

When you visit the lakeshore come prepared for a variety of weather, terrain, and unexpected situations. Conditions can change quickly!

Several people surround a person on a litter on a beach. There is a boat pulled up to the beach.
Pictured Rocks rangers help an injured person at Chapel Beach.

NPS photo.

A Safe Trip is a Successful Trip

This list is an overview of safety topics in the park and is not exhaustive. If you need more information about a topic or have specific question, please contact us or ask a ranger when you arrive.

General Safety

  • Always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back, even if you only plan to be out for a couple hours. There is little to no cell service in many parts of the park.
  • Do not build sand tunnels. Sand is unstable and can collapse.
  • Rip currents can happen in Lake Superior. Know how to get out if caught in a rip current. Learn more about swimming safety.
  • Want to take a #Selfie? Stay safe while taking photos with these tips: Keep Safety in the Picture
  • Know what to pack! Bring the 10 essentials for the ideal experience.
  • Do not jump from rocks or cliffs into the water. It is illegal to jump from a rock or cliff that is more than 15 feet above water level. Do not climb on Miner’s Castle or Chapel Rock.
  • Rescues in many parts of the park can take hours. Help is not always “Just a phone call away”.
Two plants compared. A plant with white, net-like flowers (cow parsnip) and a three leaved vine (poison ivy)
Know how to identify cow parsnip and poison ivy to avoid coming into contact with them on your trip!

NPS Photos

Hiking Safety

  • Stay away from cliff edges! Erosion is a constant force along Lake Superior, creating unsupported ledges along cliffs.
  • Bring plenty of water, insect repellent, and sunscreen. Biting insects are very common from late May through September. What's biting me?
  • Be cautious of wild parsnip and poison ivy. Wild parsnip is an invasive plant that can cause serious chemical burns. Chemical burns and blistering can appear up to 48 hours after contact. The toxic reaction can take place any time of the year, but it is most potent when the plant is flowering. It resembles Queen Anne's Lace, but with pale yellow flowers instead of white.
  • Look out for falling branches! Disease affecting beech trees has left many dead and dying trees around the park. Strong winds can knock branches loose.
  • Know the symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
  • There can be hunting in the park from Labor Day through April 1st (State regulations apply). Wear hunter’s orange during this time.
On Lake Superior
Do not use recreational kayaks on Lake Superior. Sea Kayaks (above) are the only kayaks that should be used, and only by experienced sea kayakers.

Boating & Kayaking Safety

  • When in doubt, don’t go out!
  • Do not use canoes or recreational kayaks in Lake Superior. Sea kayaks are the only kayaks equipped to go on Lake Superior. Lake Superior is a powerful body of water and is more like an inland sea than a lake. If you do not have experience kayaking on very large bodies of water, do not go out on Lake Superior.
  • Always wear a personal floatation device (PFD) when boating.
  • Use caution when boating near cliffs. Cliff collapses and rock fall can and do happen.
  • Know the marine forecast before heading out.
  • Know the symptoms of hypothermia.
  • A PFD and a whistle or air horn are required to go paddling in the park. Read more about kayaking at Pictured Rocks.
A black bear walks through a field of tall green grass.
Black bears are common at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

NPS Photo

Wildlife Safety

  • Bears are present and active in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore! Black bears are common at Pictured Rocks. We do not have grizzly (brown) bears. When backcountry camping, store anything with a scent (food, sunscreen, toothpaste) in bear boxes. Most black bears do not pose a threat to humans. Learn more about bear safety at Pictured Rocks.
  • Always give all wildlife plenty of space! Deer, coyotes, and the occasional moose can be found at Pictured Rocks.
  • Never feed wildlife! A fed bear is a dead bear. Feeding animals teaches them that they can expect food from people, this can result in dangerous behavior. Always clean up your campsites and pack out your trash. Use bear-proof trash cans at trailheads.
For more information on planning a safe trip to a National Park, see the National Park Service's Health and Safety page!
A trail camera photo of a bear sniffing one of two trash cans.
Be Bear Aware

Learn about best practices when recreating around bears.

People swim in the distance on a sandbar. A beach and dune grass is in the foreground.
Swimming & Beach Safety

Stay safe on Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore's beaches!

A motorized boat drives from the left side of the picture towards the right. The water is turquoise.

Do you have the right boat? Looking for boat launches? Check here!

Legs wearing long white hiking pants and hiking boots. The pants are covered in black flies.
What's Biting Me?!

Biting insects are common at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore! Don't let them ruin your trip, be prepared!

A group of people in three yellow kayaks with sandstone cliffs in the background.
Kayaking at Pictured Rocks

Kayaking on Lake Superior is best saved for the experienced kayaker. Find out what kayak to use and other lakes to kayak on.

A person in a purple coat and blue hat walks away from the camera on a boardwalk surrounded by trees
Visiting in Winter

Winter at Pictured Rocks is stunning, learn more about winter activities!


Last updated: September 13, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 40
Munising, MI 49862


Munising Falls Visitor Center

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