Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a U.S. National Lakeshore on the shore of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, United States. It extends for 42 miles (67 km) along the shore and covers . The park offers spectacular scenery of the hilly shoreline between Munising, Michigan and Grand Marais, Michigan, with natural archways, waterfalls, and sand dunes.
Pictured Rocks derives its name from the 15 miles (24 km) of colorful sandstone cliffs northeast of Munising. The cliffs are up to 200 feet (60 m) above lake level. They have been naturally sculptured into shallow caves, arches, formations that resemble castle turrets, and human profiles, among others. Near Munising visitors also can view Grand Island, most of which is included in the Grand Island National Recreation Area and is preserved separately.
The U.S. Congress made Pictured Rocks the first officially-designated National Lakeshore in the United States in 1966. It is governed by the National Park Service (NPS), had 22 year-round NPS employees as of May 2006, and received 476,888 visitors in 2005.
Paved highways penetrate part way into the lakeshore from both ends. Travelers seeking to drive from one end of the lakeshore to the other must use County Road H-58. Roads only come close to the shoreline near Miners Castle, 12 Mile Beach, and the Grand Sable Dunes. The rest of the shoreline is only seen from land by hiking.
A 42-mile (67-km) section of the North Country Trail spans the lakeshore.
Pictured Rocks Cruises offers daily trips from Memorial Day weekend through October 10. Sea Kayaking is a popular method of exploring the park. and is the best way to see it, although it is a serious trip in dangerous and cold water, which should not be undertaken lightly or without proper equipment (dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature). Guides are available. The most efficient port of entry to Pictured Rocks, for a sea kayak, is from the harbor at Munising.
Camping must be done only in designated areas, and is strictly regulated by the National Park rangers.
During the Romantic Era of the 1800s, a series of American writers described their feelings upon sight of the Pictured Rocks. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft paid a tribute in 1820 to "some of the most sublime and commanding views in nature." As long ago as 1850 developers platted a tourist resort, Grand Island City, adjacent to the Pictured Rocks near the current site of Munising.
After the lumbering era ended around 1910, many of the parcels of land making up the current Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore reverted to the state of Michigan for unpaid property taxes. Eager for federal help and recognition, the state cooperated with the federal government in the region's redevelopment. Congress enacted a law in 1966 to elevate the shoreline between Munising and Grand Marais to the status of a National Lakeshore.
In October 1966, Congress passed a bill authorizing the establishment of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, “... in order to preserve for the benefit, inspiration, education, recreational use, and enjoyment of the public, a significant portion of the diminishing shoreline of the United States and its related geographic and scientific features.” When President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill, Alger County became the home of America’s first National Lakeshore.