Whether seeking to escape the heat, check out amazing fall colors, or take a unique winter adventure, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has plenty to offer — especially Munising and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the UP.
Something just happens when you drive across the five miles of the Mackinac Bridge and find yourself in the Upper Peninsula (UP), where big towns simply aren’t, and the scenery is jaw-dropping gorgeous with lots of forests, lakes and streams. Of course, there’s also the Big Lake, Superior, which some say is the coldest, deepest freshwater lake in the world.
Along a 50-mile stretch of Superior shoreline stretching from Munising on the west to Grand Marais on the east is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, with wilderness views, waterfalls, and undeveloped beaches that are perfect RV destinations.
As an added bonus, it’s only about 90 minutes from Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
Take a look at this video I did of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore all the way back in 2012 when Jennifer and I first started our RVing adventures. This isn’t even on our YouTube channel! This video will give you a good look at what to expect up near Munising.
If you do plan to head to the area, be sure to check out ultimate RVing guide – our 7-Day Adventure Guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Munising and Pictured Rocks: What to Do
While you’re in Munising, be sure to eat a pasty from Muldoons, a fun little shop just west of downtown easily recognizable by the statue of Bigfoot out front.
Pasties are a U.P. tradition, a sort of meat and vegetable pie (beef or chicken), originally made as the preferred lunch of the immigrants who worked in the U.P.’s once-thriving iron and copper mines.
The Yoopers are divided about whether anything other than ketchup should be applied to them, though the “trolls,” the people who live “below the (Mackinac) bridge” seem to prefer thick gravy. Muldoons will “fix ‘em how you like ‘em” with no judging.
If you head to Muldoons you might wonder, what’s with the Bigfoot statue there? As well as the Bigfoot infatuation you’ll see throughout Munising? Well, it’s a long story and part if a video I did last year on UP Mysteries, Myths, and Monsters.
Head to Munising Falls and the Munising Falls Visitor Center. There are TONS of waterfalls in this area, especially near Munising. The Munising Falls are located within the city limits of Munising, a short paved trail leads you up the cool sandstone canyon along Munising Creek to two viewing platforms at the base of the falls. If you want to chase more waterfalls during your visit go to this link to find the major waterfalls in and around the national lakeshore: https://www.nps.gov/piro/planyourvisit/waterfalls.htm
The Visitors Center has exhibits on early iron smelting, geology, forest history, rare and endangered species, and logging which portray the diversity of our nation's first national lakeshore. (While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, please be sure to check if all such attractions have altered schedules.)
Munising and Pictured Rocks: Boat Tours
Take a glass-bottom boat tour and visit the amazing Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by boat. All along the Pictured Rocks area are towering sandstone formations, you can explore the caves and rock formations up close from the water.
But why the glass-bottom, you might ask? Well this area is known for the large number of shipwrecks that have occurred over the years. And in the crystal clear waters of Lake Superior you can see down up to 50 feet into these wrecks!
Here are your options for boat tours, they usually operate from Memorial Day weekend to mid-October.
Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tour: Two-hour tours are given out of Munising. Phone: 906-387-4477
Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises: Two and a half to three-hour cruises along the national lakeshore out of Munising. Phone: 906-387-2379
Munising Pirate Cruises: The pirate ship Good Fortune offers one-hour family cruises, with pirate training for kids, and a one and a half hour sunset cruises for adults. Phone: 920-940-8301
If kayaking is more your style than a boat tour, these two companies offer guided kayak tours of Pictured Rocks.
Northern Waters Adventures: Full day and morning/evening half day tours. Phone: 906-387-2323
Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Five hour morning and afternoon tours. Phone: 906-387-5500
Munising and Pictured Rocks: Hiking and the Falls
Inside the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – trails, steps, and access roads abound leading to beaches and three National Park campgrounds (which we’ll talk about below).
There are many scenic places within the national lakeshore that have hiking trails including Sand Point and the Sand Point Marsh Trail, the Miners Falls and Miners Castle, the White Birch Forest and White Birth Nature Trail, and Chapel Rock and Chapel Beach.
The majority of these are accessible from the National Park campgrounds within the lakeshore.
Visit these links to see more information on all of these trails: https://www.nps.gov/piro/planyourvisit/scenicsites.htm https://www.nps.gov/piro/planyourvisit/ naturetrails.htm#CP_JUMP_3031280
This post also gives good directions to some of these trails: https://mynorth.com/2018/07/best-things-to-do-at-pictured- rocks-national-lakeshore/
Munising and Pictured Rocks: Where to Camp
Munising Tourist Park Campground
Season: Open no later than May 23 and closed no sooner than October 28. Call for exact opening and closing dates which may vary depending on the weather.
Rates: $25 – $41 per site
Address: E8518 W M-28 West, Munising, Michigan 49862
Phone: (906) 387-3145
We’ve stayed at the Munising Tourist Park Campground on Superior several times. It’s a great location and you can’t beat staying right on the beach.
Bay Furnace Campground
Season: May 15th – October 7th
Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/hiawatha/ recarea/?recid=13284
Address: Bay Furnace Rd, Munising, MI 49862
Booking: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/ campgrounds/233173
The Bay Furnace Campground is located in the Hiawatha National Forest on the south shores of Lake Superior.
The Pictured Rocks RV Park is located right next to the Bay Furnace Campground.
Munising/Pictured Rocks KOA
Season: May 19th – October 22nd
Rates: $45-60/night depending on hookup needs
Address: E10102 State Hwy M28, Wetmore, MI 49895
Phone: Reserve: (800)-562-9503 Info: (906)-387-3315
If you’re having trouble booking a campground local to Munising, this link has several good options to other nearby campgrounds: https://www.nps.gov/piro/planyourvisit/ nearby-camping.htm
Finally, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers a multitude of campgrounds here.
Currently, for all of these camping is on a first-come, first-served basis (no reservations) so you have to get there early and be lucky to scoop up a spot.
They are rustic and do not have electric, water, or sewer hookups so if you’re coming here, you’re boondocking.
The National Park campgrounds are at Little Beaver Lake, Twelve Mile Beach (our favorite of the three), and Hurricane River.
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Check out our 7 Day Adventure Guide to the Upper Peninsula!
We’ve been visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for more than three decades. We’ve hiked, photographed, camped, fished and explored every region and have picked up lots of experience that will save you time and help you maximize your 7-Day UP Adventure.
We provide a suggested route and itinerary, links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, and the best spots to see along the way from one end of the UP to the other.
You can hit everything in seven days, do a whirlwind weekend tour, or you can take your time and explore the area over a 2+ week period.
All you need to do is point the RV north and follow our guide to experience the UP like a Yooper.