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Our Backyard: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

A HUGE part of why we're happy to call Grand Marais, Michigan home is that we have an awesome playground in our backyard: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore!

Just 2 miles from The Dream Bean Machine, PRNL was established in 1966 and was the first of only three national lakeshores designated in the US.

Sandstone cliffs stand tall along Lake Superior on the park's western side near Munising. Groundwater that seeps from the cracks paints mineral stains cascading down the rock, leaving streaks of red (iron), black and white (manganese), yellow (limonite), and pink & green (copper)!

There are many ways to view these majestic formations: by boat, by kayak, or from the Miners Castle lookout (Important: July alerts and closures)

Our favorite way to explore PRNL is by hiking the North Country Trail. The leg that runs from Munising to Grand Marais totals 42 gorgeous miles along the lakeshore — a MUST-DO if you're into backpacking — but there are plenty of awesome day-hikes and quick scenic overlook stops for anyone to enjoy, no matter your adventure level!

Keep in mind, all visitors anywhere within PRNL now need to purchase a park pass. 7-Day or Annual passes available here!

Also, remember that ALL drive-in park campgrounds are open by RESERVATION ONLY. Permits are also required for backcountry camping. Reserve your spot here!

Once you head further east on H58 from Munising toward us in Grand Marais, the terrain shifts from steep sandstone cliffs to breezy, sloping sand dunes.

Make sure to stop at Au Sable Lighthouse, built in 1874 and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Fun fact: The federal government bought the land needed for the lighthouse from the State of Michigan at the cost of $407 back then!)

Lighthouse photo courtesy of @mibeans.leaves

To get there, park at the Hurricane River lot, about 12 miles from Grand Marais. Enjoy some time at the beach where the mouth of the river empties into Superior and check out the infamous — but beautiful — Jacobsville sandstone slabs beneath the water's surface that used to wreak havoc for passing ships.

From there it's a 1.2 mile walk along easy terrain to the light station, which was once operated by keepers who lived on-premise but is now fully solar-powered.

Tours are only $5 (exact cash only) and worth it for the incredible history and stories of the folks who once lived there! Guided by park rangers, tours are about 40 min and run from June-Sept, 11am-3:30pm from the lighthouse porch.

Other favorite stops from there include the Log Slide and Sable Falls, which brings you only 2.5 miles from The Dream Bean Machine, so please stop by and treat yourself to a tasty drink. You deserve it after all of that exploring!

Let us know what your must-see stops are in Pictured Rocks!

Or, if you're a first-timer, what are you most looking forward to?

(Besides seeing Stella, of course! 😉)

Happy adventuring!

TDBM crew

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