US, Michigan: Best of UP – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Pictured Rocks Cruise

Part 3 – Pictured Rocks Cruise

After about 10 km in the Beaver Basin, we headed straight to the Munising Marina, hoping for happy winds and a tranquil evening. Wish granted, we happily purchased our new tickets and headed to the boarding line. We couldn’t stop noticing everyone’s excitement, while a sailor was asking people where they were from.

Staying in line with another 50 excited people

Happily boarded, and with an funny and enchanting captain explaining bits of history combined with local geography, we got ready on the second deck not only with our cameras, but with our full senses opened. The boat had 3 decks in total, and both superior decks were full before we departed.

The first stop was in front of the East Channel Lighthouse, which is at the southern tip of Grand Island, North of Munising Bay. Built in 1868 by wood, it was restored during early 2000s mainly by volunteer work, when a 91 m seawall was also completed.

East Channel Lighthouse
East Channel Lighthouse – Pictured Rocks

In this way, we learned that Lake Superior is the largest lake of all Great Lakes, and it is the largest body of fresh water on Earth. The shoreline is over 4,000 km, and rarely freezes totally. The average water temperature is 4.4 C, lower than any other Great Lakes. Even in the summer the lake does not appeal to swimmers.

Pictured Rocks, designated as the first National Lakeshore in 1966, extends for 67 km along the shore in the UP between Munising and Grand Marais, and the name derives from the 24 km of the colourful sandstone cliffs were the Mother Nature carved – and continues to carve – beautiful caves, arches, and all kind of profiles, named by imagination or resemblance.

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The colours of the cliffs are created by the multitude of the minerals in the rocks. In connection with water, over time, these minerals leave streaks of colour.

 

These colorful sandstone cliffs tower 15 to 70 m above the water’s surface, making imposing views of colourful columns.

We knew we had to take jackets with us, since the weather changes rapidly on the lake, especially since we took the last cruise of the day. However, I didn’t realize the light jacket I took with me was not enough for the cold currents blowing later in the evening, not talking about freezing hands when I wanted to take more pictures. So, after sitting on the superior deck for a little bit to admire the sunset, we got inside on the second deck of the boat, where we could still admire the views through the big windows.

 

Spray Falls
Spray Falls – Pictured Rocks
Pictured Sky and waters
Pictured Sky and waters
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