Monday, January 26, 2015

Field Trip - Munising, Michigan

Located along the southern shore of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Munising is approximately 4 1/2 hours from Mid-Michigan.  This means that Munising is realistically outside the range of a day-trip, but it does make a good weekend destination.

So why go to Munising?

Rocks and water.

The Lake Superior shoreline to the east of Munising is designated as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Some of the Lakeshore's cliffs and eroded sandstone features can be seen from shore, but they are best viewed from the water.

Miners Castle viewed from the shoreline - one of the two spires on this feature has since collapsed

Looking down at the lake from the top of the cliffs
This can be done from a private boat or sea kayak, or you can book passage on a tour boat operated by Pictured Rocks Cruises - 2014 prices were $36 for an adult with tickets for children ages 6 -12 priced at $10.

A sea kayaker paddling along the cliffs
Miners Castle viewed from the lake

If possible, take the sunset cruise for the best light.  The cruise takes you close along towering cliffs.

Pictured Rocks viewed from a tour boat

The low evening sun enhances the colors of the Pictured Rocks

Immediately north of Munising is Grand Island.  Grand Island, divides and protects the entrance to the Munising Bay.  The waters around Munising can be hazardous and two lighthouses were erected to guide ships into the bay.  At least 30 ships have sunk while trying to enter the bay.  Two boats operated by Munising's Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours will take you to see several of these wrecks located in the east arm of the bay.  Tickets for these tours are $32 for adults and $12 for children aged 6 to 12.

East Grand Island Light

A portion of one of the Munising shipwrecks

Mature Bald Eagle on Grand Island

Rock and water also meet in the many waterfalls that can be found around Munising.  More than a dozen waterfalls can be found either within the boundaries of Pictured Rocks National lakeshore or on public or private land nearby.  Several of these waterfalls can be seen from the roadside or located just a short walk away.  A few are best viewed from out in Lake Superior.

Wagner Falls is located in a park just south of Munising

Scott Falls is located along the roadside west of Munising

Spray Falls viewed from tour boat

One feature of Munising that is rarely talked about is its relatively unpolluted night sky.  These photos were taken from a hotel balcony, the view from a few miles outside of town should be even better.

The northern sky from Munising

The same view enhanced to show faint curtains of the Northern Lights

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