Millions of Americans will spend their summer hitting up the majestic National Parks spread throughout the American West, where they will be sweltering away in the summer sun and desert heat. If you’d like to try something more off the beaten path and, quite literally, cooler, then you can head north to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the shores of Lake Superior, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. With an average summer temperature of about 70 degrees, and a water temperature even below that, it’ll be a refreshingly cool destination for hiking, kayaking and camping.
Of course, cool temperatures aren’t all this National Seashore has to offer. It’s named after the 15 miles of sandstone cliffs along the coastline, creating a dramatic drop to the water below. These cliffs are dotted with gorgeous and unique landmarks, from waterfalls to arches and caves that you can weave in and among in a kayak or explore on foot from above. Three waterfalls worth checking out are the 50-foot Munising Falls, 75-foot Sable Falls and Bridalveil Falls, which tumbles directly into the Lake itself.
At the from the eastern end of the Lakeshore are the Grand Sable Dunes, a perched dune formation that rise dramatically as much as 275 feet above the lake itself.
One of the most striking things about Lake Superior, that often surprises visitors, is how clear and blue the water is. It contrasts with the sandstone cliffs and green trees to create look that almost appears more Mediterranean than Midwest.
Backpackers and hikers can hike all along the park, and campsites are scattered every few miles along the trail. There are several drive-in campgrounds, as well as over 100 of hiking trails – all in addition to the dramatic shoreline.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s also an excellent place to do some cross-country skiing and ice fishing. We suggest going this summer.