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Pictured Rocks in Pictures

September 14, 2011

There is no way to adequately describe the 200-foot sandstone cliffs–carved by time and the elements into natural caves and bridges, painted by seeping minerals, and framed by emerald green waters–that comprise Pictured Rocks Natural Lake Shore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Photos don’t do it justice. The only way to fully appreciate these natural wonders is to explore them in a kayak, like we did with a tour provided by Paddling Michigan.

Provided with gear, sea kayaks and a short safety lesson (here’s what to do in the event you capsize . . . ) we set out on our 10-mile, all-day paddle.

Sarah, our guide, explores the first cave of the day:

We head toward a cave of our own:

Sarah navigates past a giant waterfall:

Mustard yellow, rust, turquoise and pink are just some of the colors we identified in the towering cliffs. Some are the natural color of sandstone, while others are caused by minerals seeping through the porous rock.

We go in for a closer look:

. . . and closer:

In the distance we see Grand Portal Arch:

Shannon makes way for the natural bridge:

. . . and finds our last cave of the day:

20 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris H. permalink
    September 14, 2011 7:43 am

    Absolutely amazing! What an experience.

    • September 14, 2011 8:47 am

      It ranks among the top things we’ve done. The all-day paddling was physically demanding, we were pretty beat afterwards, but kayaking is absolutely the way to see this stuff. There are giant boats that take people out to see the cliffs, but you can’t beat the feeling of paddling into the “caves” and seeing these things up close and personal.

      We also love the fact that Pictured Rock is such a wonderful place that’s not on almost anyone’s to-do list. Hope to change that. 🙂

  2. September 14, 2011 7:51 am

    Incredible. Thanks for sharing.

  3. September 14, 2011 8:44 am

    pretty awesome cliffs…

    • September 14, 2011 9:01 am

      Hey Heyduke, I don’t know if you’re going to make it up Michigan’s way, but this is something that’s absolutely worth checking out. It’s a bit out of the way, but I’m glad we got to see this part of the country.

      • September 16, 2011 10:46 am

        not this year but MI is on the future list and this spot has been tagged for a future visit

  4. September 14, 2011 9:34 am

    wow this looks like so much fun!

    • September 14, 2011 10:55 am

      It reminded me of our rafting trip down the Grand Canyon, which was probably the number one thing we’ve ever done. It was similar, but a shorter trip, and only half a canyon. 🙂

  5. Grant permalink
    September 14, 2011 2:22 pm

    Beautiful pics… and a beautiful hat on Shannon’s head. I have one like that.

  6. September 21, 2011 10:55 am

    Absolutely amazing. The pictures of grand arch and the multi colored rocks with green waters are just so beautiful. How many caves are there?

    • September 21, 2011 6:24 pm

      We may have seen five or six caves on our trip, I don’t recall exactly. They’re not giant caves but are still pretty neat to paddle into.

  7. September 24, 2011 12:41 pm

    Amazing! Some of these shots remind me of the Mediterranean. It’s hard to believe it’s Michigan!

    • September 24, 2011 1:06 pm

      Thanks! One of the nice things about traveling the way we do, slowly and deliberately, is that we occasionally find awesome places that are well off most people’s radars – like Pictured Rocks.

  8. Agnieszka permalink
    September 24, 2011 3:58 pm

    Beautiful place for hiking , planing to go back next weekend.You are right not to many people know about it , but im spreading the world to of my friends went this year and they loved it!

  9. September 24, 2011 9:28 pm

    I think I just found a reason to go to Michigan.

  10. September 28, 2011 10:03 am

    Beautiful! Love the pics! I haven’t spent any time in that part of the country, but it looks like it’s totally worth the trips.

    • September 28, 2011 10:15 am

      Our original plan had us skipping this whole area. We detoured here and are really glad we did.

  11. September 30, 2011 4:20 pm

    I love the colours you can find in nature! What a beautiful place to explore 😀

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