Discover the mysteries of Lake Superior’s shipwrecked coast at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

UPDATE – this project was completed in October 2019.

Lake Superior is the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area, measuring over 1,300 feet deep. Its size gives it the power of an ocean, which has shaped the geology and history of the land along its shores. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, a unit of the National Park System, would not be what it is without the lake.

Ancient layers of sediment laid down by the Lake over the eons turned into brush-stroked sandstone cliffs – these stunning colors occur when groundwater and minerals ooze out of cracks and trickle down the rock face. On one section of the shore, the wave action eroded sand-sized particles, and the wind blew them up onto shore forming the Grand Sable Dunes that rise 300 feet above the lake.

Inland from the shore is the wind twisted forest – part of what is often called “The North Woods”. The combination of hardwoods, pines, and hemlocks are home to deer, bears, coyotes, fox and porcupines. You may see moose in the spruce and cedar wetlands of the park, particularly in the more than 11,000 acres set aside as official federal wilderness. 

The history of the Lakeshore includes the stories of over 20 shipwrecks, many of which are still visible along the shore. With the shipwrecks came the U.S. Lifesaving Service in the 1870s and, in 1915, the U.S. Coast Guard. Lighthouses, Coast Guard stations, and a “harbor of refuge” house in the park serve as historic reminders of efforts to warn and protect sailors on the Great Lakes. 

Look into the Munising Range Light or the Lightkeepers House Museum if you have an interest in unique navigation aids and the people who ran them – in 2018, National Park Trust acquired land adjacent to the Munsing Light, and removed a non-historical building from the property to restore the historic value of the land before donating it to the park.

This park offers something to everyone, including many outdoor activities. So, walk the dunes, hike over 100 miles on the lakeshore and park trails, camp, fish, kayak in the summer, and discover the ice caves in the winter. 

Enjoy this north county park, which is protected permanently for you and future generations by the National Park Service!