The Best Ways to Experience the Fall Season around Pictured Rocks

Around the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore area, autumn colors emerge in September and typically peak in the middle of October. PC: Tim TrombleyAround the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore area, autumn colors emerge in September and typically peak in the middle of October. PC: Tim Trombley

If you’re considering an adventure this fall, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula might just be the ideal getaway. You’ll encounter hundreds of majestic waterfalls along with unblemished, freshwater beaches and serene forests.

Undoubtedly, one of the region’s highlights is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. While the multicolored sandstone cliffs towering over crystal waters of Lake Superior are impressive anytime of year, in fall, the lakeshore becomes even more alive with vivid hues. Trees with a mix of golds, scarlets, and oranges line the bluffs and showcase one of the most magnificent color shows on the planet.

We recently extended the end of its season and will operate tours until the end of September!

See available dates here.

Attractions such as Tahquamenon Falls and Kitchitikipi are close at-hand as well, making the Pictured Rocks area the place to be in the fall. Check out the best ways to experience the fall season:

Fall foliage decorates trees near the sandstone cliffs in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. PC: Instagram user @alia_jamilaFall foliage decorates trees near the sandstone cliffs in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. PC: Instagram user @alia_jamila

The Chapel Basin Loop, Melstrand

While hiking the Chapel Basin Loop, you’re guaranteed to see the best views of the Pictured Rocks by land. The hikes begin at the Chapel/Mosquito trailhead parking lot at the end of Chapel Road, about 15 miles northeast of Munising off Highway 58. Here, you can explore at least two beaches, waterfalls, and popular landmarks in the park, such as Chapel Rock and Grand Portal Point.

A kayaking tour peering at one of the rock formations. PC: Instagram user @little_pioneerA kayaking tour peering at one of the rock formations. PC: Instagram user @little_pioneer

From the Water

The best way to soak in the fall foliage around Pictured Rocks is by taking a tour along the lakeshore. With Pictured Rocks Kayaking, you can paddle close enough to touch. The specially-made boats launch you into Lake Superior, right where the most beautiful parts of the park begin.

Why You’ll Love to Paddle Pictured Rocks

A portion of the Pictured Rocks seen aboard a Pictured Rocks Cruises’ tour. PC: Instagram user @little_pioneerA portion of the Pictured Rocks seen aboard a Pictured Rocks Cruises’ tour. PC: Instagram user @little_pioneer

You can also climb aboard a Pictured Rocks Cruises boat tour, where you’ll travel alongside the most visually stunning 40 miles of shoreline on the Great Lakes. Pictured Rocks Cruises offers tours through mid-October.

Learn More About Cruises

The East Channel Lighthouse. PC: Instagram user @sagarika_royThe East Channel Lighthouse. PC: Instagram user @sagarika_roy
Both tours include the most iconic landmarks of Pictured Rocks including the Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse, Miners Castle, Chapel Rock, Lovers Leap, and more!

Miners Falls. PC: Instagram user @soham_gokhaleMiners Falls. PC: Instagram user @soham_gokhale

Near Waterfalls

The U.P. is home to all but one of Michigan’s waterfalls. Ranging in size from under 5 to 50 feet vertical drops, there are over 200 waterfalls in the U.P., with the PRNL home to several of them.

Miners Falls is the most powerful waterfall in the Pictured Rocks park. The 1.2-mile round-trip hike is a popular one and a great way to see some of the most treasured areas in the park due to the falls’ close proximity to Miners Beach and Miners Castle.

The Best Waterfalls of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Munising Falls. PC: Instagram user @cpxphotographyMunising Falls. PC: Instagram user @cpxphotography

Munising Falls is located at the western edge of the Pictured Rocks park and is arguably the most popular waterfall in the area. Located within the city limits of Munising off Sand Point Road.

Kitch-iti-kipi or Kitch-iti-kipi or “The Big Spring”, Manistique, Michigan. PC: Instagram user @deftony83

By A Natural Spring

After visiting Pictured Rocks, enjoy a short hour drive and see Michigan’s largest spring – Kitch-iti-kipi, also known as “The Big Spring.” Enjoy the gorgeous fall hues reflecting off the crystal clear waters of the spring on a self-guided raft while you glide across the spring – a must see!

The Upper Falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. PC: Jaymie DepewThe Upper Falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. PC: Jaymie Depew

Nicknamed “The Root Beer Falls” due to the unique, copper color of the water, Tahquamenon Falls consists of the Upper and Lower Falls. The Upper Falls is one the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. It’s more than 200 feet across with a drop of approximately 50 feet. Four miles downstream you’ll find the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island. A gorgeous place to see fall color and only a 1 ½ hour drive from Munising!The Upper Peninsula is full of stunning fall color, and you won’t want to miss the amazing sights of Pictured Rocks. Kayak, cruise, or hike to take in the sights along Lake Superior’s shoreline now.

See Available Kayak Tour Dates