Visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Bob and I have visited Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore a handful of times in a few different seasons–it’s so beautiful! It’s less than a 5 hour drive from our house, and the scenery is incredible. It’s far enough away to feel like a trip, but not so far that it requires tons of planning or a really long stay to make it worth it.

A couple of summers ago, we went backpacking (sans baby, as she didn’t exist yet), and hiked on the North Country Trail for half of the park–from the middle to the Munising trail head. If you are new to backpacking, this is a great place to start! The views are phenomenal, the trail is well marked, the campgrounds are great, and it’s relatively flat hiking. And those lakeshore views, man. To die for!

Since Julia joined us last May, traveling by backpack isn’t quite as appealing. I know there are crazy people out there who do it, but I am not one of those crazy people. Kudos if you are! We’ve switched our outdoor adventures to car camping, and no regrets. A cooler full of food, a real (air) bed, and pillows? Twist my arm.

Pictured Rocks

I love adventuring with my people. Whether it’s just the 3 of us or we go with friends, it’s always worth it. Despite all the work of packing and setting up and figuring out food and managing baby schedules…adventures with people you love is always, no matter what, worth the effort. Seeing new places, experiencing new things, and allowing ourselves to unplug for a few days does wonders for our sanity and our happiness levels.

If you live in Michigan, and are looking for an amazing weekend getaway, I can’t recommend Pictured Rocks enough! Here are some tips if you’re planning on car camping in the park.

  1. Get to the campground early–as in 10 am or before. All campsites (there are only 60 or so that you can drive to) don’t have a reservation system and are first come, first served. If you’re there and there’s a site available, it’s yours. If not, you’re up a creek. All campers need to vacate their sites by noon if they aren’t staying, so if everything is full at noon or after, you’re out of luck.
  2. We’ve stayed at 12 Mile Beach twice, and would happily go back again.
  3. Check out Grand Marais! It’s an adorable, little coastal town on the East end of the park. We ate lunch at Lake Superior Brewing Company, and grabbed an ice cream cone at West Bay Diner. Both are worth visiting!
  4. Hit up a National Park Visitor’s Center in either Munising or Grand Marias for a trail map. The park is full of trails–many of them short day hike distances–that will deliver gorgeous views of the cliffs and Lake Superior.

I want to know: What kinds of summer adventures are you looking forward to? Comment below!

In case you’re interested….In defense of the weekend getaway and our week on Isle Royale.

P.S. If you’re not into camping, but still want to check out Pictured Rocks, is absolutely worth looking into Click the link for $40 off your first booking! You can find really fun vacation rentals–rooms, whole houses, cabins, and quaint little bed and breakfasts. This historic home in Grand Marais looks so fancy, and this sweet little cottage near Munising is a bit more budget friendly, but so cozy looking.