June 22, 2015

6/10/15 - Pictured Rocks NL

I seem to have a hard time remembering that this park's name is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I keep wanting to call it Painted Rocks or Pictured Cliffs instead, so if I type the wrong thing, you may have to translate. Anyway, you'll know what I mean.

Never heard of Pictured Rocks? It's in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on Lake Superior, near Munising. Still can't "picture" it? Googlemaps can...

The park sits on 40 miles of shoreline, and while there are some cool things to see and do on land, to really see the painted rocks you need to be on a boat. And we weren't.

DAY 1: After a brief visit at the Interagency Visitor Center and armed with a brochure with directions to waterfalls and lighthouses, we started driving. First stop was Munising Falls, but the Visitor Center with passport stamps was closed until the 26th. (The season doesn't really start around there until July!!!!) We took the short walk to the waterfall, alongside a little creek with lots of wildflowers.

HQ for the park is at Sand Point at the old Coast Guard Station. We met the new park superintendent. She'd recently transferred from the Grand Canyon, so my sweatshirt started the conversation.
This is is the view of the pictured rocks from Sand Point. Impressive, huh? (Remember, no boat.)

In the boathouse is an old lifeboat. They had a faking box here too, but I really liked the rope bumper that looks like a mustache.
Next stop was the Miners Castle Overlook--the most famous formation in the park. (Sorry, didn't know about it.) As expected by now, the Visitor's Center was closed, but we checked out the overlook. This is probably the best view of the rocks unless you get down on the beach someplace. (Boat cruise tomorrow!) The flat spot is where the turret collapsed about 10 years ago.
There are stairs and a steep trail down to a lower overlook. Pretty trail through woods and wildflowers.
Besides Miners Castle, there's Miners Beach and Miners Lake and Miners Trail and Miners Falls. We checked out Miners Falls. (Actually, there's only one so the plural doesn't fit. I learned that at Yosemite. Since then, I always notice.) They really need to cut back on some of the trees.

DAY 2:  Pictured Rock Cruises is a concessionaire for the NPS. It was warmer (on land) than it had been the day before (sort of) but cloudy (which makes some of the pictures look incomplete). I, of course, wanted 80 degrees and bright blue skies. (Oh, well, at least it was better than yesterday, with wind and 5' swells and seasick people.) I got tickets for the 4:00 Spray Falls cruise. We found seats on the top deck. (A couple hours later, the top deck was pretty empty because it was pretty cold.) 
The cruise is over 35 miles round trip and takes almost 3 hours. We headed out of the bay, past Grand Island, and stayed close enough to the shore so we could (finally!) see painted rocks. 

Miners Castle does look different from the water. (You can see the platform on the left where we were standing yesterday.)
Painted Coves really shows the colors from the minerals in the groundwater that leaks down the face of the sandstone bluffs.
Painted Coves
Painted Wall

Caves of All Colors
Here are a few pictures from the cruise.  Lots more at the link below.
Lover's Leap
Battleship Rocks
Indian Drum
Chapel Cove (the captain took us all the way into it!)

Chapel Rock
Tree's on the rock; roots swing across to shore
Spray Falls

Day 3:  I opened the blinds way too early the next morning to see the sun lighting up the sky over Lake Superior, so I grabbed the camera and headed about 10 steps to the beach. George rarely sees sunrises unless I show him my pictures. (And, hey, George! I really don't think that counts!)
Be sure to click on the link for more pictures of Painted Rocks Natl Landmark. I've included some closeups of the rocks so you can see the colors.

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