Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore: In An Afternoon

Do you have 1 day to spend at Pictured Rocks but are unsure of how to spend the time? If so, here is our recommendation!

We drove west from Munising, swam in Lake Superior, waded in streams, and hiked to the Au Sable Light Station.

Here are a few things to know about going to the light station.

1. The last 1.5 miles to the Au Sable Light Station is on foot.

You can either walk the trail or walk the beach. We walked the trail there, had a picnic there, and walked the beach back!

2. You can see Lake Superior both from the top of the light house and from the beach. It is amazing either way!

3. There is a ship wreck on the beach between the light house and the trail head.

The shipwreck is different than most I have seen. It is just a skeleton of a boat and is fully accessible from the beach. You may be aware that lake levels change over time. This picture was 2019 so the water was relatively high compared with past years but a bit lower than 2020.

4. Remember to bring your National Park Passport and Junior Ranger books.

We carried drinks, sandwiches, snacks, sunscreen, hats, and plenty of other things. We didn’t bring our passport books and had to settle for a stamp on a blank piece of paper. Its not the same!

5. You may end up swimming in Lake Superior.

It may sound cold and daunting but, on a hot day, it is clean, clear, and refreshing! It was unbelievable hot the day we were there. I wasn’t prepared to swim in the lake and ended up taking a nice long swim in my tee shirt and skirt. It wasn’t my proudest moment but I was perfectly content, comfortably cool, and it was worth it! Next time I will be better prepared!

6.Wear water shoes and carry bug repellent.

The beach is rocky in places and all of the tales that you may have heard about biting flies in the U.P. of Michigan are true!

7. Consider stopping once or twice on your drive to the trail head.

You may want to plan enough time to go wading in a stream.

8. The ranger talk at the light station offers a quick glimpse of the history.

Learn about the Au Sable light station, Lake Superior, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The tours are thirty minutes long and require a $3 donation per person.

Follow our blog for more adventures!

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21 thoughts on “Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore: In An Afternoon

  1. swimming in Lake Superior sounds like a dream! The hiking seems like a great way to get outdoors and have an exciting adventure. Although we are not nature lovers I would gladly exert myself a little for these stunning views! Thank you for sharing and giving us ideas for our next outdoor itinerary.


  2. I had never heard of Pictured Rocks before. But now it is firmly rooted in my mind for when we can travel again to the Lake Superior area. We would definitely head high to get a view of the lake. Although I may still be wimpy enough to avoid the colder water!


  3. Your photos are beautiful, and the lake looks so pretty! I am not sure I could stomach swimming in a lake though even in summer. Coming from a tropical country, I need my water to be really, really warm :). I would love to see the shipwreck though, sounds pretty cool!


  4. Hi, the Lake Superior looked amazing indeed. I loved the overall view from the lighthouse a bit more. Can you tell me what’s the difference between having the passport book and the stamp on blank paper? Any restriction on accessing the lake?


  5. Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore looks beautiful place to visit and I loved both the views from light house and from the beach. It is good you have tipped us to bring National Park passport for having a stamp of this lovely place. Never knew that this place is full of flies or bugs and good to know about carrying a repellent. Will keep all tips in mind before planning for this place.


      1. Lake Superior sure is beautiful! I find history interesting and I wonder what the story of the sunken ship is. Very cool to see its remains. Water shoes is a great tip! It is something I always seem to forget!


  6. Lake Superior looks lovely and the hike to Pictured Rocks is great! Surely a fantastic idea for a nature lover like me. Taking a swim there sounds super refreshing, especially as I read this on a hot summer afternoon 🙂


  7. Lake Superior looks beautiful and the view from the light house is amazing. I’d love to stumble upon the ship wreck between the lighthouse and the trail head. I had actually never heard of Pictured Rocks before reading your post but it certainly sounds like an exciting place to explore!


  8. I am amazed at how crystal clear the water is here. Looks like a really beautiful place to spend a hot summer day.


  9. I sea kayaked along Pictured Rocks and it was a fabulous trip. Quite interesting to hear of all you can do from shore. I’m too chicken to actually swim in Lake Superior. Too cold for me so I admire your swim.


  10. What a beautiful and relaxing way to spend the afternoon! It sounds like there are some fascinating things to see and the beach looks really peaceful. Thanks for the great guide!


  11. It looks like a lovely area Molly! It’s nice that you walked on the trail, then followed the beach/shore back again, so you got to see both routes. I looove that you can see a shipwreck and that you can go swimming. It must be strange to swim when it seems like the sea, but isn’t salty!


  12. I live in Detroit, and visiting Pictured Rocks has been a part of many summer road trips. What month did you swim in? We went in May one year – and it was unbelievably cold I could barely get to my knees lol


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