Over Labor Day weekend, when camping plans were thwarted, we found ourselves with a free three-day weekend on our hands. On a whim, we set our sites on Wilderness State Park and headed for the northwestern tip of the Lower Peninsula. From there, on an even bigger whim, we decided to keep pressing northward and finaly fulfill the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore excursion we’d been itching to take. No bags packed, no room booked – we were winging it.
We hopped over to Mackinac City along the way to stock up on bare essentials (a change of clothes, toiletries, and a few groceries), pinpointed a destination point for the night, and then we crossed the Mighty Mac and were on our way. We made it to Grand Marais, a city on the eastern-most edge of Pictured Rocks, by about 11pm.
The next morning, we awoke to serene views of Lake Superior and immediately booked a sunset cruise to explore Pictured Rocks from the water later that day, thanks to a brilliant call by my better half. I can’t recommend this enough – particularly for others out there traveling with young ones not yet ready for long hikes touring the shoreline from above. I’d also suggest aiming a little ahead of the final sunset cruise. The alternating convex and concave cliffs looked stellar in the evening sun, but it sank quickly (assisted by some cloud cover) and it was dark for much of the ride back (roughly two hours round-trip).
Here are a few of my favorite shots from the cruise and the stops we made at the various waterfalls and overviews that dot the shoreline along the way.
I tried to pare my photo volume down a bit here, but if you’re interested in seeing them all, you can find the full arsenal of our trip’s photos in my Flickr feed here.
Early AM rain the following morning kept the Pictured Rocks portion of our adventure to one day, but all told we saw some truly stunning natural beauty, spotted at least three bald eagles, witnessed a deer rescue, and managed to squeeze in some beach time on the way back down to Traverse City.
We’ll definitely be back to experience more of the Upper Peninsula in it’s varing seasonal attire, and to eventually soak in the Pictured Rocks views from the shoreline cliffs. In the meantime, we can both borrow/enjoy my friend’s perspective of that here. 🙂