of our destinations. We've seen some of the pictures, we've had family share their own stories, and so it was time for us to give it a look. As usual, I did research on various hiking trails and sites to see on the map. While this indeed looked fun and I hope to check out the trails, it was evident that taking one of the boat cruises was the real way to enjoy this National Lakeshore.
We had looked at picturedrocks.com ahead of time to check out the various cruise schedules and options. They were highly recommending of getting a reservation ahead of time. We didn't really decide this plan was a go until about 24 hours prior when we were out of cell and data signal to do anything about it. It wasn't until our drive towards Munising and arrival in Newberry, MI that we finally we able to make contact with Pictured Rocks Cruises and we were able to get a 5pm Spray Falls Cruise reservation for our whole group. They wanted us there 30 minutes early for boarding and we would be all set.
We had been cold in the U.P. in the days prior and so we prepared for about any temp on the boat cruise. We also carried some drinks and food in a backpack for the 2 1/2 hour ride. We hopped in the line with a number of other folks and they got us boarded in an orderly fashion. We had heard that they were only able to be filling the boat to half capacity which worked out great for us. We were towards the end of the line which meant all of the seats on the top deck and the outside seats on the middle deck were taken, but we grabbed some front row seats in the wide open lower deck and had *lots* of space. Personally, I thought this worked out perfectly. I enjoyed walking around everywhere during the cruise to take in different views and with a half-filled boat this was easy to do. The folks on the upper deck proved to be hesitant to get up for fear of losing their seats.
The cruise started swiftly out of port to get up to the Pictured Rocks area and then moved along slowly through the good sights. Our "host" was good about announcing and explaining the sights as they came. They did this on the ride out and the ride back for folks on each side of the boat. It was really good about highlighting everything to see.
The following are some of the pictures I took along the way and some explanation of the photos:
|Grand Island. Ok, not much to see yet, but still beautiful to be out on Lake Superior
|Miner's Castle area
Have heard great things about the trails headed this way and folks who backpack in this area
Notice the kayakers in the water here, saw plenty along the way setting out from Miners Beach
|Indian Head Rock
Notice how the tree perched on the rock in center has roots hanging across an airy gap to another set of rocks. Impressive!
|Can't recall for sure, but I believe this was the Painted Desert area
|Can't recall the name here either.
I believe this was one area they filmed the ice climbing scenes for the National Parks Adventure IMAX movie
|Lighthouse that looks like a chapel on Grand Island
I have a love for creating tracks. Its a treat to go back afterwards and look up paths taken on Google Earth to recreate and visualize where I've been. For our Pictured Rocks cruise I have tracks of our boat paths on the way out to Spray Falls and back. I also created waypoints, where I could, along the way of the various features that we saw. All of it is on the map.