Winter Camping at Pictured Rocks

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, it's important to come for a winter visit completely prepared! This is especially true for winter camping, which can be a challenging experience.

An unexpected slip into a creek, the loss of a tarp in a blizzard, or a broken ski binding can quickly spell disaster. The old scout adage of “Be Prepared” is the best advice. The lakeshore staff encourage you to carefully plan your winter camping 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 supplies for your method of travel (skis, snowshoes, or snowmobile), and camping equipment.
  • 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.
  • 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 camping!


Winter camping rules and regulations are different from summer camping. Winter camping is permitted in drive-in campgrounds without charge or permit. (Roads are not plowed into drive-in campgrounds.) However if you winter camp in the backcountry you need to get a backcountry camping permit online.

  • A snow depth of 6 inches or more is required for winter camping rules to take effect.
  • Winter backcountry 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 established metal fire rings in developed front or backcountry sites.
  • Winter backcountry 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 surounding bluffs including Sand Point beaches, Sand Point Road, park headquarters, the ice curtain area, the North Country Scenic Trail down at water level, and the lands situated within the corporate limits of the City of Munising.

Also areas near developed park locations, such as:

  • 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)


Last updated: September 12, 2018

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 40
Munising, MI 49862


(906) 387-3700

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