Our plan was to take a sunset cruise of the Pictured Ricks National Lakeshore on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’s north shore. However, when looking at the weather forecast (lots of rain and possible high winds) for this evening, we opted to move up our reservations to noon.
The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore extends for 42 miles along the shore and covers 114 square miles. The park offers spectacular scenery of the hilly shoreline between Munising, Michigan and Grand Marais, Michigan, with various rock formations like natural archways, waterfalls, and sand dunes.
Pictured Rocks derives its name from the 15 miles of colorful sandstone cliffs northeast of Munising. The cliffs are up to 200 feet above lake level and have been naturally sculptured into shallow caves, arches, formations that resemble castle turrets, and human profiles, among others. The U.S. Congress made Pictured Rocks the first officially designated National Lakeshore in the United States in 1966.
The colors in the cliffs are created by the large amounts of minerals in the rock. The cliffs are composed of the Munising Formation of 500 million year old Cambrian period sandstone. The Munising Formation sits atop a Precambrian sandstone of the Jacobsville Formation. The mottled red Jacobsville Formation is the oldest rock in the park. On top of the Munising Formation is the younger Au Train Formation from the Ordovician period. The Au Train Formation is hard sandstone and acts as a “cap” over the other layers. Streaks on the face of the cliffs come from the groundwater leaching out of the rock. With it come iron (red), manganese (black-white), limonite (yellow-brown), copper (pink-green) and other minerals. As the water evaporates, these minerals leave streaks of color
Unfortunately, as the sky was very overcast, some of the brilliancy of the colors of the cliffs was not readily observable today. The kayakers in several of the following photos provide a perspective on the height of these cliffs.
Before returning to Munising, we past close aboard the Grand Island East Channel Light is a lighthouse located just north of Munising, Michigan. It was intended to lead boats from Lake Superior through the channel east of Grand Island into the Munising Harbor. Constructed of wood, the light first opened for service in 1868. The light was very hard to see from Lake Superior, and light maintenance was very difficult so the Munising Range Lights were constructed (Munising Rear Range Light, Munising Front Range Light) and this light was removed from service in 1908 or 1913.
The lighthouse was severely neglected, and was in danger of being washed away due to erosion . The “Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse Rescue Committee” was officially formed. Private fund raising was undertaken. Restoration efforts (albeit in “rustic form” not pristine as it was in service) were undertaken. The theory for the lack of paint is that it is more picturesque and attractive to tourists and passing photographers.