Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

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A MUST DO in Munising

Thursday evening June 20, 2014
Munising Tourist Park Campground
Munising, Michigan



The suspense is over, we’re taking the Pictured Rocks Boat Tour.  Yes we are.  It’s not the sort of thing we usually do but we don’t have the equipment or the right boats to kayak out in Lake Superior to see them from the water ourselves so we’ve signed up at $36 a head and it turns out to be worth every penny.



We arrive 45 minutes early for our 7:30 sunset cruise thinking we’ll be one of the first in line to get one of the coveted top deck camera shot seats.  HA!  Look at this line.  Everyone was thinking it was too cold yesterday and rain is predicted for tomorrow so the cruise is sold out at 150 people.

When we get on the boat we split up.  David goes downstairs and gets a window seat.  I go up and manage to grab the last two seats in the very back row on the isle.  Not great seats I think especially since you are not allowed to walk around on the top deck.  But boy do I turn out to be wrong about these seats. 



I go down to tell David what I’ve got.  He decides to stay where he is.  We’ll have different pictures which will be nice.  Since the tour is narrated, between watching, listening and taking pictures we can’t talk to each other anyway.

My seat is in the very back as you can see.  I am on the aisle.  These things mean that I can get up anytime I want and take pictures standing up without blocking anyone else.  I have a clear view out the rear and all along half the sides of the boat of everything we are seeing and have passed.  It’s fabulous!  Best seat on the boat in my opinion.  Even the big group camera club who took over the rear below deck doesn’t have the views I do.  On the way back the two people by the side in my row  get too cold and go below and some of the camera people jump into their seats.  I wisely wore my winter coat so I’m find.


We pull out of Munising Bay and pass Grand Island, scene of David’s bike ride earlier, on the East heading for the 15 mile Pictured Rocks Coastline.  The first thing the captain points out is East Channel Lighthouse on Grand Island.  It is privately owned now but started operation in 1867 to warn incoming vessels of the narrow passage into Munising Bay.  So by boat is really the only way you can see it.  David found this out yesterday when he tried to find it on the island.  So now he’s got his picture.  It is a beauty.  A wooden lighthouse, it first opened in 1868.





In no time at all we are passing the painted cliffs.  They look even more beautiful up close




Comprised of colorful weathered sandstone, The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an ongoing work of art created by Mother Nature. Trace minerals seep from the cracks of the sandstone leaving distinct color stains from different minerals. Then with the help of wind, lake water, rain, snow, lightning, and hail,  the rocks are eroded and sculpted into their current forms. But these forms are constantly changing. They change with the angle of the sun during the course of the year and the course of the day.






We pass Miner’s Castle which we saw from the land just two days ago.  Its tower doesn’t show as well from this angle.

It is a good example of the way the Pictured Rocks Change.

Miners Castle is probably the most recognizable formation of the Pictured Rocks and on June 14 of 2006  its left towers or turret fell into Lake Superior.  This changed the appearance of the castle immensely.  Now a viewing platform is just to the left of where the other tower used to be. I’d sure like to find my pictures from our earlier trip since it was before the loss.


I would also love to kayak into these caves.  That’s on my list for “next time”.  I want to take a guided sea kayak tour since we don’t have the equipment.   Just look at those colors.






We go by Bridalveil Falls one of two of the 17 falls only visible from Lake Superior.  It is a seasonal waterfall and flows to a trickle during the summer months.  It is Michigan’s highest waterfall. 

Unfortunately only the late afternoon tours take the route that goes by Spray Falls the other falls only visible from the Lake.  But seeing Bridalveil takes my total of waterfalls up to 10.  I’ll have to pick up the others “next time” and Spray Falls “next time”.




I took nearly 500 hundred pictures of these magnificent cliffs and I’m struggled for hours to give you a small sample. So get yourself a nice warm or cool beverage depending on where you are on this late June day and settle in for a bit.  These Rocks are just so amazing. This is tour you must take yourself to believe it.  

Look closely.  The colors, the formations, the pictures!  I think they should be called The GRAND Pictured Rocks.   This is SOME art work.







These cliffs of limestone exist today because of the lime/sand stone named the Munising Formation. It is also this occurrence that is responsible for the large number of waterfalls in this central part of the Upper Peninsula. This unique formation runs all the way from the Tahquamenon Falls to the Laughing Whitefish Falls.   We were near Laughing Whitefish the day we spent so much time trying to find Rock River Falls.  So the former is on our list for “next time”.

We couldn’t have a better day.  The weather here around this greatest of lakes is so fickle that everyone who wanted to do this tour jumped at the chance today.




I’ve blown up some of the close up photographs so that you can look for the pictures in the rocks. Look for them in both the colors and the rock formations themselves.  I see a deer or some sort of 4 legged animal here.  There also might be a bear there on the right, his ears, eyes, nose and paws as he stands up?   I’ve seen things like a platypus, bears, reindeer and a host of other things my eyes pick out.  No one else may see these things which makes these rocks so personal.


The patina of the rocks is also different in different places.  It seems pastel in some and almost shellacked in others.


What do you see here?




What a rainbow of colors.













Colorful and bold, the Pictured Rocks tower 50 to 200 feet directly from Lake Superior. The name "Pictured Rocks" comes from the streaks of mineral stain that decorate the face of the weather-sculpted cliffs. Sandstone cliffs of ochre, tan, and brown - sandwiched with layers of white, green, orange, and black - glisten against the cloud-streaked sky and clear waters of Lake Superior.











How many colors do you see?



Look carefully for the greens.





There are several arches along the shore.  More fun for kayaking.   Roundish ones, squarish ones and the famous Grand Portal which has been collapsing since 1900 long before Congress made the park was the first designated National Lakeshore in 1966 to protect these beautiful creations.














I loved the holes the water is making in these cliffs.  Sure would like to explore them.  Have I said that before?  Look closely, they are all different.



















See anything here?


How about now?


How about here?




This point is described as Indian Head.  I’m not sure I was at the right angle for you to see it but you can let me know.  It’s supposed to be a profile of a Lakota Sioux Indian Chief with a strong nose.





Do you think I could kayak right into those?




Here’s why I seldom took any shots facing toward the front of the boat.





Aren’t the base color changes amazing.  From golden sandstone to gray.  Or in this case gray and pink.







And now for the stunt of the tour.   We come to this really lovely edge behind which is a beautiful cove carved out by the waves.





The captain aims the boat right for it.  What?



He drives right in.  




I think he’s going to crash into the rock but the boat stops once it is completely inside and just sits there while everyone goes camera crazy.






As the boat backs out, I notice that the sun is beginning to go down.   This is the farthest point in the tour and from here we will go back.   The light is definitely changing as the sun moves closer to the horizon.






But before the end, one more.   Nature is just so amazing.   Look at this tree. Trees often grow on rocks.  They get started on the soil that has built up as a result of others colonizing there.  No problem for small trees but what about when they get to be more mature?




Can you see the adaptation?   If there isn’t enough soil, send out a root to where there is.



I turned the flash on for this picture and am not happy with the results but you can see the large root the tree has somehow sent over to the “mainland”.   Just phenomenal.  I take a lesson here.  NEVER GIVE UP!!   There’s always a way.




We’re heading away, back to Munising.






Our tour is nearly over but it has been just spectacular.  WELL worth the price.




The sun is setting on our grand adventure.  What a fabulous treat we have had!   If you’ve stuck with me all the way and not even done a little skimming then you must feel as though you’ve been on the tour.  But believe me, you haven’t.  This is perhaps 1/10th of the pictures I took.   This natural wonder is one you must see for yourself.





How lucky and not nearly appreciative enough are we all to live on a planet as magnificent as this one.



  1. So glad you took the boat tour. We thought it was well worth the price too.

  2. I was always sorry we never made it there when we were in Michigan. Its definitely on the list for a return trip. Thanks for ALL the pictures :-)

  3. Looks like a great tour! I, too, am always fascinated by trees growing on rocks, and when we see them we laugh about what a struggle it was to get grass to grow in the soil at our house but a tree can grow on a rock.

  4. Oh my! I can well imagine the great number of photos you had to go through! Sometimes I think that is the hardest part of all this exploring and blogging!!! Absolutely gorgeous!

  5. Yes that tour was well worth the price. Just awesome pictures.
    I also have a fascination with trees and their root systems

  6. Very cool. Kayaking into those caves would be an experience not to be forgotten. The Pictured Rocks are really stunning.

  7. ah big sigh. We hauled our kayaks all the way to Pictured Rocks in 2010, and never got them off the car. The weather was wilder and windier than even the Oregon Coast. NO way to get on the water, either on a tour or on our own boats. We tried to stand at the viewpoint and could barely stay upright. I loved that area so much, especially the huge hardwoods, and will definitely go back. We went in August. Missed the mosquitoes, but the weather was crazy the entire time we were in the area. So nice to see the cliffs from your boat tour. Thanks, Sherry.

  8. We did manage incredibly good pasties at Muldoon's however. I just looked back at our blog and it was in early September that we were there.

  9. awww. . .that was all just spectacular. . .really great!


  10. Wow - beautiful cliffs and love the trees!! Looks like you had the perfect seat for viewing and picture taking/sharing - thank you!!

  11. Didn't want it to end. Again. So glad you had the perfect weather and even more perfect seat for great photos! The pic looking back out of the cove at sunset is so different than the others, it really stuck out for me. Gotta love that tenacious tree - life finds a way :-).

  12. I would have definitely taken the tour at that price. Lucky you to get what may have looked like a terrible seat, but to turn out magnificent! The pictures made it seem like you were all by yourself up there :) Just lovely the different colors in the layers of rock. Reminds me a lot of the southwest desert colors. Beautiful :)

  13. That was a way cool boat trip and definitely worth the price from your photos!! Gorgeous colors and those arches and sea caves are amazing! I would love to get close to all those openings along the cliffs. That tree with the bridge roots is incredible. Thanks for adding so many photos. What a beautiful sunset to your day! I bet you and David were grinning for the rest of the evening.

  14. I felt like I was on that tour with you! Beautiful pictures.

  15. The photos are fabulous. I'm sure the narrative was excellent too since you felt it was worth the money.

  16. I'm afraid I couldn't quite make out the Indian Head. Probably need to take the tour myself. :)

  17. So happy you scored a great spot on the boat! The rocks are gorgeous, and I can certainly see you kayaking there -- especially exploring the arches and little narrow passageways! I like the "Never Give Up" tree. :-)

  18. BEAUTIFUL!!! Nature is Amazing!!! So glad you were able to have the spectacular experience:o))

  19. Sherry- I am envious......All my years living in Michigan, I never had the opportunity to take the Pictured Rocks tour. It has been on my to-do list for years. Thanks for the tips on becoming a real and proper poster

  20. Thanks for posting the pictures. I feel like I have been on the tour with you.

  21. Sherry, you just whet our appetites! This is a great preview of things to come and enjoyed your tour so much, Thank you. Now I know what to do when we get there and I know which seat to take in the boat. Im sure you have an extra sd card in case you ran out of space for like you I would take hundreds of picture.
    The gorgeous sunset is a great ending of your phenomenal adventure.

  22. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing.


  23. Unbelievable! Words could never convey the beauty of Pictured Rocks, and I loved the pictures and narrative.

  24. Isn't that the most amazing place?? the highlight of our trip one year. loved, loved, loved it!!! the wooden lighthouse that looks like a school, right down to battleship row, it was the most.. SO glad you guys went on the tour and got to see it!!

  25. Wow, those colorful cliffs are mother nature's wonderous art. So many mineral colors and pictures. Sometimes a tour is the way to go and see things. But does look inviting for a kayak.

  26. How powerful! This was a beautifully written and pictured blog. I read it all and loved seeing the colors under a clear blue sky. What special natural monuments those are. Would be a great job to be the captain of that ship and see them often in all weathers and lights. And see new shapes and colors each time. Pictured is an apt name. Gorgeous! I could tell how much seeing that meant to you :) So glad you took the cruise!

  27. What a great tour, the tapestry is reminiscent of the sights we saw on our boat tour of Antelope Canyon on Lake Powell. We're sure enjoying MI tour, thanks.

  28. Thank you for this post! What great pictures and commentary!!!

  29. I believe you did get the best seat on the boat. All those amazing colors -- wow! Breathtaking! The picture of the lighthouse could be a post card. And I love the lesson from the tree growing on the rock.

  30. I thought I had a great seat downstairs with the window open, but your pictures are so much better. When he drove into the cove, those of us downstairs couldn't see much other than the darkened walls - you had the best seat no doubt, and took the best pictures too. Really glad we went even with the crowd.


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