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Camping at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
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General Overview

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, spans 42 miles of Lake Superior's northern shoreline. It is renowned for its dramatic multicolored cliffs, unusual sandstone formations, cascading waterfalls, and pristine forests. The park offers a unique blend of natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, camping, boating, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

Camping Options

Backcountry Camping:

  • Pictured Rocks offers numerous backcountry campsites for backpackers.
  • Permits are required and can be obtained via recreation.gov.
  • Sites are usually located a few miles apart along the North Country Trail, which traverses the park.

Drive-in Campgrounds:

  • Three drive-in campgrounds (Little Beaver Lake, Hurricane River, and Twelvemile Beach) are available.
  • These campgrounds typically provide amenities like fire rings, picnic tables, and toilets.
  • Campsites can be reserved in advance, particularly for the busy summer season.

Group and Day Use Camping:

  • Group camping is available for organized groups, with specific sites designated for larger numbers.
  • Day use areas are also available for picnics and short visits.

Permits and Reservations

  • Backcountry permits are required year-round for overnight stays in the backcountry and can be reserved online.
  • Drive-in campsites can be reserved through the National Recreation Reservation System.
  • During the winter months, some permits may be self-issued at visitor centers or trailhead kiosks.

What to Expect

Natural Features:

  • The park's main attractions include the cliff faces, some reaching up to 200 feet high, adorned by streaks of mineral stain.
  • The park's diverse landscape includes beaches, dunes, and inland lakes.


  • Wildlife in the area includes black bears, deer, moose, and various bird species.


  • Weather near Lake Superior can be unpredictable, and lake effect conditions can bring sudden changes.
  • Summers are generally mild, but it's wise to prepare for rain and cooler temperatures, especially at night.
  • Winters can be harsh with substantial snowfall, requiring appropriate gear for cold weather camping.

Rules and Regulations

  • Fires are only allowed in designated areas with fire rings.
  • Collecting wood within the park is prohibited; firewood must be purchased locally.
  • Bear-proof food storage techniques should be used to protect both wildlife and campers.
  • Stay on designated trails to protect fragile ecosystems.
  • Follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize impact on the environment.


  • Hiking: Over 100 miles of trails, including the North Country National Scenic Trail.
  • Boating: Kayaking and canoeing along the lakeshore provide stunning views of the cliffs.
  • Fishing: Lake Superior and inland lakes offer opportunities for catching various fish species.
  • Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing: During winter, the park becomes a destination for snow-based activities.

Visitor Centers and Education

  • The park has visitor centers where you can find maps, exhibits, and information about current conditions.
  • Educational programs and guided tours may be available seasonally.


  • Some areas of the park are accessible to those with mobility challenges, including certain overlooks and visitor centers.
  • Specific campsites are also designed to be accessible.

Safety Tips

  • Stay clear of cliff edges, as sandstone can be unstable.
  • Use caution when swimming in Lake Superior; currents and cold temperatures can be dangerous.
  • Keep food and scented items secure to avoid attracting bears.
  • Dress in layers and be prepared for varying weather conditions.

Getting There

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is situated between the towns of Munising and Grand Marais in Michigan. Access to different parts of the park varies, with some areas only accessible by foot or boat. Munising is typically the main gateway for visitors to the park.

Map of Campgrounds in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
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