Pictured Rocks (Michigan, United States)


Munising is Michigan Upper Peninsula’s best kept secret and its USP is certainly the Pictured Rocks and all other attractions that are listed under NPS’ Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I woke up to a surprisingly warm morning on an early September day just to be awed by the magnificent sunrise on Lake Superior. Ours was a Lake facing room and the view was truly amazing. Later in the day, equipped by maps and brochures we set out for our much anticipated trip of the beautiful Lakeshore.
We had booked ourselves for the sunset cruise to see the Pictured Rocks so we had to leave, unwillingly. The Pictured Rocks cruise boats left from the Munising City Pier and was probably the most sought after ‘to do’ thing in the city. The cruise was for almost three hours and before we boarded the boat we were told to carry warm clothing because it would get chilly once in the mid-lake and when the sun went down.
We never quite imagined what lay before us while we boarded the boat; a two level modern vessel with an interesting upper deck. Quite naturally to see the rocks and the lake, almost everyone flocked on the upper deck. Thankfully, there were enough places to accommodate all. The cruise started with an introduction by the captain on Lake Superior and the history of shipwrecks.
It was time for another round of being awestruck by Nature’s creations as the boat cruised over Lake Superior. Initially it was the East Channel Lighthouse followed by a series of simple limestone cliffs, may be around 40 to 50 ft tall that had rust color marks on its foot. Wasn’t impressive at all and I could feel a sense of restlessness among my co passengers as they stared at the rocks blankly so as to say, this is it? And engaged themselves in various topics of discussions.
The first rock structure that came in sight was the same Miners castle that we had seen from the top and everyone sat up straight. I thanked myself for the early visit because from the level of the lake not even one percent of the beauty could be appreciated or even understood. The boat cruised along and then started the long and steep cliffs called the Painted Coves and the Coves of Colors that hugged the coastline like a guard. The colors, as those were called, was just amazing. It seemed someone had painted the rocks with a thick brush; black, white, orange, red, blue, purple and green; unbelievable and majestic. The black and white combination was so beautiful that it looked like the keys of a piano. Our captain explained how the minerals in the water impacted the rocks and resulted in those magnificent color combinations.  

It was then time for the gigantic rock formations and cliffs that were almost 300 ft high, caves and arches on the cliffs, one better than the other. Where the Lovers’ Leap was an exquisite arch, Indian Head cliff resembled the head of a tribal. Gull rookery was where hundreds of seagulls gathered and fluttered around and the Grand Portal was a huge piece of rock like a gigantic wall in front of us. The cliffs were continuously punctuated by either some arches or some caves and I enjoyed the names given to some of the unique formations. The Rainbow Cave, for example had almost all the colors of the rainbow and the Chapel Cave had absolutely green waters surrounded by steep walls of the cave, absolutely breathtaking. The cruise continued and we came across Battleship rock formations where big rocks jutted out on the lake, one behind the other and from a far off distance looked exactly like ships in formation ready for the strike. Wonder who gave these unique names to the rocks? Our last attraction was the Chapel Rock from where the boat turned and much to my astonishment I realized that it was time for sunset.


The sky was set ablaze with the bright red and orange and as the red ball of fire dipped in the horizon it turned the blue waters of the lake golden and even then the water shimmered in the fading light of the sun. The clouds changed shapes every minute and the total combination of the rocks, lake, sunset and sky was perhaps worth a million dollars.
Our much awaited sunset cruise of the Pictured Rocks ended as the boat touched the ferry landing. Three hours in the water and so much of energy spent in admiring nature’s chiseled creations, hunger pangs beckoned and off we went to sample the famous white fish of UP, another best kept secret of that region after the Pictured Rocks.