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Kayak Pictured Rocks: Five Places to Go Kayaking on Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks Kayaking
Photo by Ryan McChesney

Kayak Pictured Rocks: Guide to Kayaking Pictured Rocks

Looking to spice up this summer’s family vacation with some Pictured Rocks kayaking?

A vacation that you and the whole family will be talking about for years to come? Look no further than the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

From amazing rock formations and towering cliffs of painted sandstone; from cascading waterfalls to secret islands, a kayaking trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore will make lasting memories.

Lake Superior, the world’s largest body of fresh water (in terms of the surface area) is a top travel destination for sea kayakers. Offering kayakers unparalleled picturesque views, paddling Lake Superior is a must for adventure-loving travelers.

I’ve put together a list of five of my favorite things to see in Pictured Rocks (and a couple of bonus spots, too) as well as a map to help you plan your kayaking trip.

Read on for the list of must-see spots and scroll to the bottom for the map!

Kayaking Pictured Rocks - 5 must-see spots on Pictured Rocks national lakeshore

About Kayaking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, offers paddlers of all skill levels a chance to see world-class views that take your breath away. Guided kayaking tours from a variety of outfitters are available. Located in Munising, MI, these outfitters offer an amazing pure Michigan experience.

Packages range from a basic guided tour of landmarks to beling launched from a power boat to some of the more remote spots in along the lakeshore. You can also bring your own kayak and paddle your own tour, but take care to have the right equipment for the rough Lake Superior sea.

Outfitters to check out include:

  • Uncle Ducky Paddlers Village
  • Pictured Rocks Kayaking
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Five Spots to See When Kayaking Pictured Rocks

Our top-five must-see spots while paddling and hiking through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on beautiful Lake Superior include:

Miners castle - pictured rocks kayaking
Miners Castle

Miners Castle

Located just 5 miles east of Munising, lies one of the most infamous landmarks within Pictured Rocks Shoreline, Miners Castle.

These cliffs around the castle hold great spiritual significance to both the Anishnabe and Ojibwa people, who have called this area home for thousands of years. Miners Castle first got it’s name in 1771, while Englishman Alexander Henry and his crew explored the area for minerals. No minerals were ever found; however, the name lives on.

best pictured rocks campgrounds

Miners Castle Cliffs

The cliffs within Pictured Rocks, like Miners Castle, are made from three formations of Pre Cambrian and Paleozoic sandstone; therefore, this attracts geologists worldwide to visit Pictured Rocks National Shoreline to find the answers to the Earth’s History.

How cool would that be, paddling with the family through breath-taking monuments that have been around long before the dinosaurs? The kiddos will most certainly have stories to tell their classmates when summer break concludes and it’s time to go back to school.

Miners Castle - kayaking pictured rocks national lakeshore
Bridalveil Falls

Bridalveil Falls

Just a half of a mile from Miners Beach lies this epic waterfall destination for paddlers. The falls cannot be seen from the North Country Trail; it’s best to view them via kayak. Paddling through stunning views that most folks will only see as a screen saver on their desktop and the gin-clear waters of Lake Superior make for an excellent day trip with the family.

Don’t take my word for it though, check it out for yourself. With an abundance of kayak guide services at your disposal; booking a trip like this is a no-sweat process.

Chapel Beach - kayaking pictured rocks national lakeshore
Chapel Beach in the Fall

Chapel Beach/Chapel Rock

Roughly a 15-mile drive east from Munising lies yet another gem- Chapel Rock. A quick 3-mile hike from the trailhead gets you to Lake Superior, where Chapel Beach calls home. Chapel Rock is another piece of the Earth’s history, a remnant of Cambrian age sandstone that was carved by Lake Nippising 3800 years ago.

One of my favorite times to visit is in the early fall, when Michigan’s fall foliage has started to turn and the briliant reds and yellows of the autumn leaves light up the cliffs.

Spray falls - pictured rocks kayak trip

Spray Falls

Despite what TLC says “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls, this waterfall that’s Rroughly 1.75 miles northeast of Chapel Beach is definitely worth chasing.

Spray Falls plunge into Lake Superior from a lofty 70 feet above. The falls have limited visibility from the North Country Trail; it is best to view this natural phenomenon from the water.

At the base of this waterfall lies the 1856 shipwreck “Superior”. It is truly magnificent; however, don’t take my word for it, go find out for yourself.

Painted Coves - kayaking pictured Rocks
Painted Coves/ Photo by Ryan McChesney

Painted Coves

Want to see a painting that Mother Nature herself did? Look no further. The cliff lines of Painted Coves in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are magnificent and add an elegant touch of beauty to the already beautiful Lake Superior.

Paddle through the endless natural murals that are painted within the 200 feet high cliffs; making your visit through Painted Coves unlike any art museum you and the family have ever been to.

Lovers Leap - pictured rocks kayaking trip
Lovers Leap

More Don’t-Miss Spots in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Lovers Leap Arch

Grand Island

Map of spots to kayak in pictured rocks national lakeshore

Map of the Best Things to See When You Kayak Pictured Rocks

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Kayaking in Michigan is one of the best activities to do in the beautiful mitten state. With the stunning Great Lakes, gorgeous freshwater lakes, and many scenic rivers, the options seem endless when it comes to choosing a beautiful water trail to glide across in your kayak. With summer at its peak and autumn on the way, it’s the perfect time to see what our awsome mitten state has to offer with its breathtaking scenery. From a variety of calm, still waters to rocky streams and cliffsides, Michigan is sure to have a kayak trail for all different ages and experiences.  Whether you choose to kayak on the Great Lakes or another one of our amazing bodies of water, this list of 15 Places to Go Kayaking in Michigan will help you navigate your next kayak adventure to check off your bucket list of pure Michigan must-do’s. We're also sharing information on kayak outfitters and other outfitters in Michigan that rents kayaks to help you plan your trip and find your perfect paddle spot!

About the Author-

Ryan McChesney is a senior at Northern Michigan University, majoring in English Secondary Education. He enjoys surfing, sailing, hiking, and flt fishing with his dog, Dwight.