Water - it's the centerpiece of the landscape in Northern Michigan and was the focus of our recent visit to Munising, located on the southern shore of Lake Superior and a gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
There are seventeen waterfalls in the Munising area, one of our favorites is Laughing Whitefish Falls. The falls drop a hundred feet down a limestone slide; in the spring, the flow is much stronger than now, but it's still beautiful. It's a tough place to photograph well, the ravine is so deep that only at midday does sunlight reach the bottom.
There's beauty in the little details too - the color of the rock, the play or light and water.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a place unlike any other, towering above Lake Superior are the most prominent of the park's features, the multicolored sandstone cliffs for which the lakeshore is named. These cliffs reach to a height of 200 feet above the lake; the name "Pictured Rocks" comes from the streaks of minerals that stain and decorate the face of the wind and water sculpted cliffs. Sandstone cliffs of ochre, tan, and brown - sandwiched with layers of white, green, orange, and black - glisten against the cloud-streaked sky and clear waters of Lake Superior.
There are a few ways to see the Pictured Rocks, we choose a boat cruise this time. About 12 years ago, we hiked the length of the park - from Grand Marais to Munising, a total of 42 miles. Maybe we'll do it again some day!
The cliffs start out small:
But big on color! The colors and patterns are caused by water carrying minerals such as copper, iron and manganese through the soft sandstone.
If you're comfortable in a kayak on Lake Superior, you can get truly up close and personal!
Arches and caves are formed by the forces of wind and water:
Many of the formations have been named, this is Indian Head:
This is Chapel Rock, topped with a magnificent pine - even more amazing when you notice the root system bridging the gap to the cliff!
Spray Falls marks the turn around point, the falls also marks the the resting place of an 1856 shipwreck; "Superior" lies at the base of the falls in 20 feet of water.
As is common on Superior, a quick moving storm moved in on our return trip:
But it stopped just before we passed the East Chanel Light on Grand Island - we had spent the previous day on Grand Island, biking nearly 20 miles.
The Munising area is beautiful all year, but the best time to visit is quickly approaching: FALL! The colors are already starting to show just a bit - plan your visit soon.