Scenic Sites at Pictured Rocks

Boardwalk through the marsh trail
A winding boardwalk leads through the beautiful wetlands of Sand Point on the park's Marsh Trail.

NPS photo

Many areas within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are easily accessible by vehicle or short hiking trails. While enjoying these scenic sites, take time to enjoy the park's many beautiful waterfalls too.
Petit Portal is just one of spectacular formations of the Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior.
Petit Portal arch, also known as "Lover's Leap"

NPS photo

Pictured Rocks Cliffs
Colorful and bold, the Pictured Rocks cliffs tower 50 to 200 feet above Lake Superior. These sandstone cliffs stretch for about 15 miles along the lake from Sand Point on the west to just after Spray Falls on the east. The most colorful portion of the cliffs begins east of Miners Beach.

The name "Pictured Rocks" comes from streaks of mineral stain that decorate the face of the weather-sculpted sandstone. Stunning colors occur when groundwater oozes out of cracks and trickles down the rock face. Iron (red and orange), copper (blue and green), manganese (brown and black), and limonite (white) are among the most common color-producing minerals.

The best view of the cliffs is from the water. A National Park Service authorized concessionaire operates a non-stop boat tour of the Pictured Rocks cliffs from mid-May through mid-October.

The 10-mile loop hiking trail in the Chapel Basin provides the best views from land. Miners Castle provides a view of the cliffs in the distance, looking eastward from the lower overlook. This stretch of cliffs can also be viewed from the west end of Miners Beach.

The North Country National Scenic Trail extends the length of the lakeshore, providing beautiful views along the trail for both backpackers and day hikers. For safety's sake - please stay away from the cliff edge!

Sand Point beach on a peaceful July morning, just waiting for the afternoon heat wave, swimmers, waders, kayakers, and picnickers.
Sand Point Beach

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Sand Point
Located about 4 miles northeast of Munising, at the end of Sand Point Road.

The Sand Point beach is a popular spot for sunbathing, or walking in the evening to watch the sun go down over Munising Bay. Swimmers often find the shallow bay water off Sand Point warmer than other lakeshore beaches.

The Sand Point Marsh Trail, a half-mile wheelchair accessible interpretive trail that traverses a beautiful wetland area, is a great place for birding. Watch for frogs, turtles, and even beavers along the trail.

Park headquarters is also located at the end of Sand Point. Artifacts from the era of the Munising U.S. Coast Guard Station are on display in the nearby boathouse during the summer.

Miners Castle is the best-known feature of the Pictured Rocks cliffs, and is accessible by automobile.
Miners Castle

NPS photo

Miners Castle
Located about 5 miles east of Munising on Alger County Road H-58, then 6 miles north on Miners Castle Road (H11).

Miners Castle is one of the most famous landmarks along the Pictured Rocks shoreline, and is the only cliff area in the park accessible by vehicle.

From the parking lot, a short paved foot trail leads past interpretive exhibits to breathtaking overlooks of Lake Superior and Grand Island. Stairs and a steeper trail lead to the lower overlook adjacent to Miners Castle. Miners Castle site bulletin (pdf)

Erosion over long periods of time has created the interesting rock formations that give this place its name. A rockfall in 2006 dramatically changed the look of Miners Castle as one of its two turrets unexpectedly fell into the lake.

Miners Beach extends for one mile on Lake Superior where waves roll in to polish beach cobbles. 
Miners Beach

NPS photo / Ed Lasich

Miners Beach and River
Located about 5 miles east of Munising on Alger County Road H-58, then 6 miles north on Miners Castle Road (H11).

A picnicker and beach walker's delight, Miners Beach stretches for nearly a mile along Lake Superior where waves roll in to polish beach cobbles. Miners River is popular for steelhead fishing in spring and fall. A short trail leads from the river parking area to Miners Lake.

When at a beach, be aware of rip currents, powerful currents of water moving away from shore. They can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea.
It is a two and one-half mile to Chapel Rock and Beach from the closest parking area.
Chapel Rock and Beach

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Chapel Rock and Beach
Drive about 15 miles east of Munising on Alger County Road H-58; turn left and drive 5 miles north on Chapel Road to the end. From the trailhead, hike 3 miles to Lake Superior to reach Chapel Rock and Beach, with views of Chapel Lake and beautiful Chapel Falls along the way.

The Chapel area was named by early European explorers and is found on early maps as La Chappelle. Chapel Rock is a remnant of Cambrian age sandstone that was carved by Lake Nipissing high water some 3800 years ago. There once was an archway connecting the rock to the mainland. The arch collapsed in the 1940s. The lone white pine on Chapel Rock is estimated to be about 250 years old.

Chapel Beach is also a remnant of Lake Nipissing, blocking Chapel Creek to form Chapel Lake. The area invites hikers and boaters to linger, and a popular backcountry campsite is found here. Chapel Basin Day Hikes site bulletin (pdf)

Visitors stroll along Twelvemile Beach as Lake Superior waves roll gently to shore.
Twelvemile Beach

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Twelvemile Beach
Located along the Lake Superior shoreline; access is at the day-use area of Twelvemile Beach Campground, about 16 miles west of Grand Marais on Alger County Road H-58. The beach is also accessible from the Lake Superior Overlook, on H-58, about 2 miles east of the campground entrance.

The Pictured Rocks cliffs give way to this isolated beach strand shortly after Spray Falls. The beach continues east until the Grand Sable Banks rise high above Lake Superior near Grand Marais. Twelvemile Beach is a wonderful place for long walks along the shore.

This white birch forest is located along the entrance road to Twelvemile Beach Campground at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
White Birch Forest

NPS photo / Ed Lasich

White Birch Forest
Located along the entrance road to Twelvemile Beach Campground, about 16 miles west of Grand Marais on Alger County Road H-58.

This picturesque stand of white birch welcomes visitors to Twelvemile Beach and Lake Superior, and features the 2-mile self-guiding White Birch Nature Trail. Access the trail from the eastern end of the campground.

The Grand Sable Dunes tower over Lake Superior from this photo taken at the Log Slide.
View to the east from the Log Slide

NPS photo / Ed Lasich

Log Slide
Located at the end of Log Slide Road, about 7 miles west of Grand Marais on Alger County Road H-58. A short walk from the parking lot past historic logging equipment leads to the Log Slide area on top of the dunes.

Legend has it that logs sent down the tall dunes on a dry log chute would generate enough friction to cause the chute to catch fire. Today the chute is gone, but the lumberjack stories still linger as you gaze out over the Grand Sable Banks to the east. Recent winter storms destroyed the popular overlook platform, but the path that leads to where the platform stood is still open. Be careful near steep edges!

The Grand Sable Banks and Dunes tower more than 300 feet above Lake Superior.
Grand Sable Banks and Dunes

NPS photo

Grand Sable Banks and Dunes
These enormous dunes left by glacial action are located at the eastern end of the park. Access via the 1/3 mile (one-way) Dune Trail beginning at the Sable Falls parking area, one mile west of Grand Marais along Alger County Road H-58. Be prepared to walk partly uphill in soft sand. Another access point with a steeper climb is from the small parking lot at the far eastern end of Grand Sable Lake on H-58.

Five square miles of Grand Sable Dunes are perched atop the 300-foot high Grand Sable Banks. A portion of the Grand Sable Dunes is set aside as a Research Natural Area. Grand Sable Dunes RNA site bulletin (pdf)


Last updated: September 18, 2019

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P.O. Box 40
Munising, MI 49862


(906) 387-3700

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