UP UP AND AWAY PART 2! MORE ADVENTURES IN MICHIGAN’S U.P.
Forests, lakes, waterfalls, beaches, streams, sand dunes, ponds, and abundant wildlife are all a part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
We continued our adventure in Munising, MI, along Lake Superior’s southern shore. I called ahead to the campground to ask about available spots and the campground informed me that someone had just made a cancellation on a waterfront site! This isn’t the first time this has happened.
For instance, we used to live near Refugio Beach State Park in California. It’s a gorgeous campground right on the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, it books up a year in advance. While our busy schedules wouldn’t allow us to make reservations that far in advance, we could always get by calling and and asking about cancellations. People’s plans change all the time and if you are consistent (and polite) you’re bound to get a spot at some of the busiest campgrounds… or in this case one of the few lakefront spots!
Lake superior is the largest, coldest, and deepest of all the Great Lakes. It’s beautiful to behold and we were so excited that it was right in our backyard!
Munising flanks the west end of Pictured Rocks National Seashore, one of the most suggested stops from the Go RVing audience and it’s easy to see why!
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is named for the towering sandstone cliffs that line the blue waters of Lake Superior. The cliffs follow 15 miles of the national lakeshore and reach 50 to 200 feet above the water.
Nature trails offer views of the cliffs from above.
If you want to really experience the magnitude and beauty of the rocks, take a guided cruise along the shore. The cruises leave daily from Munising during the summer.
We opted for the sunset cruise. Unfortunately, it was a bit cloudy that evening so the colors weren’t as spectacular as they could have been, but it was still an amazing way to see the arches, blowholes, turrets, and sea caves that nature has sculpted into the cliffs over hundreds of years.
The name “Pictured Rocks” comes from the colorful streaks of mineral stain that decorate the rocks. Ground water makes its way through cracks and trickles down the face of the cliffs where the minerals leave gorgeous colors. Some of the most common minerals are iron, copper, manganese, and limonite. Iron makes the red and orange. Copper will leave behind blue and green. Manganese creates black and brown and limonite leaves behind white.
Before deciding on the cruise, we discussed taking our kayak out to the cliffs but after talking to a ranger about the unpredictable nature and cold waters of Lake Superior we decided to forgo the kayak… this time.
The guided cruise gave us a chance to take in the beauty and relax. Along with the colorful cliffs, the tour took us past Grand Isle East Channel Lighthouse.
It was a beautiful evening spent on Lake Superior.
One of the best parts of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is the miles and miles of pristine beaches to explore.
Twelve Mile Beach is a wonderful place to go for long walks.
You may even come across an old shipwreck like we did near Hurricane River. While most shipwrecks can only be seen by boat or scuba, there are a few along the shore.
Sculpted driftwood and colorful rocks line the shore.
One afternoon, we headed out for a short hike to Miners Falls.
The trail led us through a hardwood forest.
This deer was just as curious about us as we were about her!
Miners River drops about 50 feet over the sandstone rocks creating a beautiful waterfall.
Thing 3 may ride in the backpack while we hike, but back at our campsite he practiced for the day he gets to walk on his own hiking adventures.
The ranger who we talked to about paddling to the falls assured us we would be safe kayaking off one of the beaches as long as we avoided the cliffs. We took advantage of our beachfront site and took the kayak out.
Thing 3 waving goodbye!
What a treat to camp right on the beach where we could walk along and play in the sand.
Thing 3 loved it!
It was also the perfect spot to watch sunsets of Lake Superior each evening.
This was our backyard for the week! We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful campsite, and to think we only got this one because we asked about cancellations.
Before leaving Munising, we had to stop and try an Upper Peninsula specialty, the pasty. Pasties consist of a crust filled with diced vegetables and meat. Muldoon’s in Munising is supposed to have some of the best pasties in the U.P. Not only do they have tasty pasties, Bigfoot hangs out in their front lawn!
After our time in Munising, we headed south to Manistique to meet up with some other RVers. One family we met our first year on the road in Pennsylvania and the other we met the winter before last in Florida. Meeting up with other families all over the country is one of the best parts of traveling full time in an RV and it is especially fun when we get to visit our friends’ hometowns.
There are plenty of places to explore near Manistique. Our friends took us to Palms Book State Park.
Palms Book State Park is home to the largest freshwater spring in Michigan, Kitch-iti-kipi. A self-guided raft takes you across the spring where you can view old tree trunks, branches covered in lime, swirling sand, and fish darting through the clear emerald and aqua colored waters.
Over 10,000 gallons of water gush from the 200-foot wide and 40-foot deep spring.
Legend says that the spring is named after a young chieftain whose girlfriend asked him to prove his love by canoeing to the middle of the spring where she would jump from an overhanging branch. Tragically, he drowned when his canoe overturned in the cold waters and the spring was named after him.
What a lovely place to spend and afternoon walking through the forest and enjoying the unique spring.
Our friends also suggested we visit Fayette Historic State Park which was perfect because it was also a suggestion from the Go RVing audience!
We started in the visitor center to get some background on the area.
Then we spent the afternoon walking around the area learning about the history of this old company town.
In the mid-1880s iron ore was being shipped from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the foundries on the lower Great Lakes. It was a costly operation, and to cut costs, two blast furnaces were built close to the mine where the ore could be smelted into pig iron before it was shipped.
The Jackson Iron Company chose this site and named it after Fayette Brown. The town, which grew to nearly 500 residents, existed solely to make pig iron. Changes in technology eventually led to the shut down of the smelting operation in 1891. Many residents left the area in search of work but a few stayed in the area taking up farming.
Today Fayette Historic State Park is a living museum where you can wander the paths looking at old residences and the stabilized ruins of the furnace while imagining what it might be like to life in another era.
With summer all too quickly coming to a close we have one more stop on our Great Lakes summer tour, Door County, Wisconsin. Be sure to check back. Thanks for all the suggestions for the Upper Peninsula. We will remember our visit to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for years to come. We had a great time and look forward to coming back someday!
Have you ever been to Pictured Rocks Nationl Lakeshore? What has been one of your most memorable places to Go RVing? What sorts of local food have you tried?