Driving Tour of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

The day after Sandy, Tom, and I hiked around Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, we took a driving tour of the same area and included Eric and Bob.  They were rested and ready to get out after their quiet day at the campground.  Unfortunately, while the day before had been sunny and in the 70’s, the day of our driving tour was extremely windy and about 50.  It was chilly, especially close to the lake.

Sandy and Bob at an overlook

A driving tour was a good way to block the wind as we checked out the rest of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Eric was driving and we made him take Deer Park Road into the park.  Tom had really enjoyed driving the truck on the dirt road on the way back to the campground.  We wanted Eric and Bob to enjoy the road as well.  Although Bob complained a little about the rough ride interfering with his solitaire game on his phone, he enjoyed catching glimpses of Lake Superior through the trees and seeing all the cabins in the woods.

Eric’s truck enjoyed the dirt road!

We drove along the same scenic road as we had the day before.  Because we weren’t stopping for hikes or taking side roads, we traveled faster than we had the day before.  It was also less interesting.

Miners Castle from the Overlook

When we got to Miners Castle Scenic Road we headed north to the overlook.  Miners Castle is the only rock formation that you can see from an overlook in the park.  The other formations can only be glimpsed from the water or from much longer hikes.  Bob was excited to be able to see Miners Rock.  We watched the waves on the lake crash through a hole at the bottom of the rock for a while.  Then we left Bob and Eric at the overlook and took the short hike to Miners Castle.

The hole at the bottom of Miners Castle
Miners Castle up close
Inland Miners Castle

By the time we returned, Bob had retreated to the truck and Eric was almost done reading all the informational signs at the overlook.  We loaded back up in the truck and completed our driving tour to Munising.  We were ready for lunch and wanted to check out some waterfalls that we felt Bob would be able to walk to.

After lunch we stopped at the Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center.  I knew the Pictured Rocks NPS Visitors Center was closed in Munising, but web reviews gave good marks to the Interpretive Center.  It turns out that this building was owned by Pictured Rocks Cruises, the concessionaire that had to cancel our cruise.  They had bought the building but were only using half of it, so they leased out the other half to the Forest Service for an Interpretive Center.  We watched the movie produced by the cruise company and I got to see the gorgeous rock formations and colorful cliffs that I couldn’t see on the cruise.

The Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center had the absolute best gift shop of any that we stopped at on our trip.  Sandy bought a magnet and I bought a sweatshirt.  I almost got a t-shirt that said “Go Outside and Do Things!”  I really like the idea but don’t need another t-shirt.  The store was pretty busy but we managed to talk to the woman running the cash register for a few minutes.  We mentioned how disappointed we were with the cruise cancellation.  She told us about a woman who had come from Virginia three times to take the cruise and each time the weather had turned bad.

Eric ready to go to Munising Falls

After checking out the Interpretive Center, we continued our driving tour by heading to Munising Falls.  Although the falls are part of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the falls are located in the heart of Munising.  There was an NPS Ranger Contact station and we asked the ranger about the stamp for the North Country Trail.  He said he didn’t know anything about it.  Sandy asked him who would (the stamp was supposed to be in Munising) and the ranger was very rude as he told her to move along and stop asking questions.  Tom and I were both disappointed that a ranger could be so rude to a park visitor, but we figured we weren’t going to get a better answer out of him.

Ranger Contact station with the rude ranger

All of us were able to make the short walk to Munising Falls and we got lots of pictures.  The waterfall was disappointing, although the walk back to it was very pretty.  We saw a couple of other waterfalls from the truck and then headed back to Muskallonge Lake State Park.  We took the long way back along M-28.  Eric thought the truck had enjoyed enough dirt roads.

Munising Falls

We enjoyed our visit to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore very much.  Although I enjoyed seeing everything and especially enjoyed all our hiking, I would only want to go back if I could be sure of taking a cruise.  I still want to see those rocks from the Lake Superior.  I’ve heard they are pretty as a picture.