Once more on this Great Lakes tour, I had a chance to get out on the water. No, not in those little kayaks, but as a passenger on a catamaran cruise up the coast of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Well worth the 80 miles round-trip driving to Munising and back and the $48 cruise ticket because you get to see rocks and cliffs like this.
Why a Boat Cruise?
If you don’t do the boat cruise or sign up for a kayak tour, here’s what you see of the Pictured Rocks:
Yes, it’s gorgeous, but it’s a fraction of what you can see when you’re out on the water and looking at the land from that viewpoint.
Why not a kayak? The weather is highly variable up here. The previous two days, it was kind of stormy and windy, so those would not have been days I would want to be in a kayak on Lake Superior. The boat cruise seemed like the safest bet: indoor seating if desired, and not a big dependency on wind and weather.
Why Is It Called Pictured Rocks?
The name refers to the colors that come from the groundwater that slides down the face of the cliffs. Iron (red and orange), copper (blue and green), manganese (brown and black), and limonite (white) are among the most common color-producing minerals.
On the Starboard Side
We chose to sit inside, out of the wind the boat created (because it sped from point ot point) and take pictures out of the open windows. It was definitely better to sit on the starboard side because we got to see great views on the way out. The captain did stop at each site on the way back, but without the extensive commentary he provided on the way out.
Between the green water and the colored rocks, the colors are a feast for the eyes. Over time, the wind and waves have worn down the sandstone cliffs, making caves of some of them.
Other places, the erosion has worn through the rocks and made arches like this one. The kayaks give you a sense of scale (although I kind of wish they weren’t so many of them. They were in almost every shot, bright yellow kayaks like some kind of human litter cluttering up my otherwise pristine views…)
The Port Side View
Every so often, as the boat made its way from one stop to the next, I would look out the port side and see the massive expanse of water that is Lake Superior. Honestly, I had to remind myself this was a lake and not the ocean. My brain sees water to the horizon and automatically thinks “ocean” not “lake” every time.
The view below, Battleship Rocks, was at the far end of our tour, right before we turned around to see the sights in reverse order. The story goes that these three formations look like battleships ready to head out to sea. I can sort of see that, but I think they’re really awesome with or without that name.
I really liked this formation for the way the lines go through both the background and the foreground, but with different weathering on each. And, yes, the water really is that green close to the rocks.
My Dream Home
The East Channel lighthouse on Grand Island, across the water from Munising, is somewhere I could picture myself living, if I could figure out how to survive the weather and isolation in the winter.
Waterfront property and look at the view! Yeah, I know, unattainable, but still fun to dream about.
Want to Know More?
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware.