Pictured Rocks – Munising, Michigan – Travel Guide
About a 2 hour drive northwest of the Mackinaw Bridge will bring you to Munising, Michigan: Home of the Pictured Rocks. Actually, Munising is much more than just a beautiful shoreline. In fact, they also have 17 waterfalls, 8 lighthouses (not all open to the public), boat tours, and a nice little downtown area full of restaurants and shopping. On this leg of our trip we were supposed to end the day with a sunset cruise to view the Pictured Rocks from the water. We didn’t, however, think to purchase our tickets in advance and got there only to find out that they had sold out. At a loss on what to do now… we quickly devised a land tour and set off to see what Munising had to offer.
Our first stop was to Munising Falls, just a short drive from the downtown area. It is free to the public and has a nice little walking trail and 3 different viewing areas. The waterfall itself was somewhat small as far as water goes but the scenery and quiet setting can’t be beat! It was definitely worth the stop.
Our second stop was to Miners Falls. To get there we traveled down a VERY dusty dirt road that kicked up a cloud. All of the surrounding trees and plant life were just coated in dust. After we parked the car we saw that it was a 0.6 mile hike to the falls. No big deal we can trek that easily. Along the way there were, what we thought were mile markers… but once we got to 6 the trail kept going… and going, and going. After a long day this was a bit too much walking and it was on the same dusty gravel that we had driven in on. The waterfall was pretty impressive but there wasn’t as many viewing options at the Munising falls. I’m not sure if it’s allowed but it seems the local teens come here to climb down to the bottom of the falls and hang out. There was a large group down there already and we passed more coming in on our way out.
Our third and last stop on the improvised land tour of Munising and Pictured Rocks was Miners Castle. This area is the standard postcard scene that most people think of when you mention Pictured Rocks. And while it may be that standard postcard scene, seeing it in person can’t be beat. The view is simply breathtakingly beautiful. There are several viewing areas at Miner’s Castle and luckily there isn’t much walking necessary to get you to that great view.
While we were at Miners Castle we saw the Pictured Rocks Boat Cruise that we had hoped to be on and it was completely packed with people. It looked like they were packed in there like sardines with no rooms to move about. Turns out that things happen for a reason sometimes as that certainly wasn’t the kind of relaxing sunset cruise that we had in mind.
Things to Note
- If you decide that you would rather see Pictured Rocks from the boat cruise, we recommend that you call ahead and reserve tickets so that you don’t run into the same situation that we did. Perhaps you could even ask which cruise is the less crowded of the day so you can get more elbow room.
- If you decide to explore Munising and Picture Rocks on foot like we did, you may want to decide which stops are most important to you and take note of the distance you would actually have to walk so you are not caught off guard by the amount of miles you will be undertaking.
Betsy: I was most excited about this stop of our trip because surprisingly I had never been to the Pictured Rocks. I had really had my heart set on the boat cruise but in the end I was just happy to see the areas that we were able to see (although a bit tired after a full day of sight-seeing). I would say that they are definitely worth the drive and I would go there again and give ourselves more time to explore all the other areas that we didn’t get to see.
Chris: I had been here once before when my kids were very young. The circumstances surrounding that trip were less than ideal and so I didn’t have any fond memories of Munising. When planning this leg of the trip I believe my exact words were “that’s a lot of extra driving to go see a rock”. I had forgotten about the falls and everything else the town had to offer so when we got there, needless to say it was a whole new experience for me! I have to say my second visit has changed my mind and we will definitely be coming back to further explore this beautiful area.