Miners Castle Overlook in Pictured Rocks Michigan

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Day 3 of our Upper Peninsula Summer Vacation 2020 took us on an almost 2-hour road trip to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore!

This place is truly stunning! And we were only able to see a very small piece of what this park has to offer.

Our first stop was to stretch and let the girls dip their feet into Lake Superior at Sand Point Beach. That officially made Lake Superior the third of the Great Lakes for these girls to dip their feet into on this vacation!

Sand Point Beach was a relaxing stop after a long drive to relax and take in the beauty of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore before we embarked on our sightseeing adventures!
The beautiful sands of Sand Point Beach

We took a short half-mile trail called Miners Castle Trail, which leads out to an overlook of Miners Castle.

Miner’s Castle in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Tim and I had checked websites the night before the trip to see if we could book a boat tour. Unfortunately, we were unable to book a boat tour because seating was at 50% capacity due to COVID restrictions in place. But, always optimistic, we decided that during our lunch break into Munising, we would stop in and see about any possible last-minute cancellations on a boat tour.

We had lunch at Eh! Burger, a fantastic quick service restaurant with fish sandwiches and burgers, etc. I can’t find any photos of our food, but Ella and I will attest that the fish sandwich is fantastic! They also conveniently have maps on the tables of the national park, so we could scope out our next area of interest while dining.

Beautiful photopraphy books and artwork are available in Pictured Rocks Cruises Gift Shop by renowned photoprapher Craig Blacklock. Visit his online gallery here.

Pictured Rocks Cruises did not have any last-minute cancellations. So we enjoyed shopping at their gift shop before heading back to the park.

Chapel Rock Beach was our next destination. The journey to Chapel Rock begins with a 5-mile drive down a dirt road deep into the woods.

It was a very busy day. We parked and hiked about a mile from the car to reach the trail head. Then we opted to take the 3-mile hike out to Chapel Rock and Chapel Beach. It’s a beautiful hike that takes you past some beautiful overlooks of Chapel Falls.

About 2.5 miles into the hike, we approached a large group of hikers at a standstill. Up ahead, we saw a young black bear having a relaxing time just sitting on the side of the trail. After we spent a few minutes in awe and adoration of him from a distance, some hikers decided to forge a path through the overgrowth and continue on their journey to Chapel Rock Beach.

This is a zoomed in photo. I promise we did not get this close to this adorable black bear cub!

We had already come 2.5 miles (3.5 technically, remember that mile hike to the trail head) and were really motivated to get past this bear and reach the destination that we had come all this way to see, but the girls were ready to turn around. They were freaking out. Ella warned us that Mama Bear had to be somewhere near and we just couldn’t see her.

So, we turned around and started the 3.5 mile trek back to the car. We had some conversations along the way and learned that Mama Bear and another cub were also spotted in that area. So it was a good idea that we turned around. We took note that we need to remember to carry bear spray on future hikes, just in case.

We headed back into Munising for dinner at Pictured Rocks Pizza. I can’t suggest this place enough! They have a fantastic selection of absolutely delicious wood-fired pizzas!

By end of the day, we knew that one day just isn’t enough time to enjoy everything this stunning national park has to offer. I feel like we only got a sampling. There is so much we didn’t get to see that we wanted to.

The best way to enjoy this paradise would be to take a boat or kayak tour where you can get a closer glimpse at all the amazing rock formations and colors that this landscape offers. Next time!!

After dinner, we high-tailed it back to St. Ignace to celebrate Independence Day.

I caught some drive-by shots of the setting sun over Lake Michigan and we decided we would definitely have to come back and visit this beautiful shoreline along US-2!

I share more about our special family time at this beach here. [insert link]
The picturesque sunset over Lake Michigan on our drive back to St. Ignace.
Vangie was ready for the 4th of July festivities to begin! We had a great spot overlooking Mackinac Island behind her!
Pure Michigan ~ No image filters ever needed!

From our lookout spot, we could watch the fireworks from Mackinac Island, Mackinac City, random fireworks all over St. Ignace, and Cheboygan’s fireworks display.

Fireworks in St. Ignace
View of Mackinac Island Fireworks from St. Ignace

Before we headed back to the RV, we took in the beauty of the Mackinac Island Bridge all lit up at night.

Mackinac Bridge at night

The Fourth of July holiday is a perfect time to visit the Upper Peninsula!

We absolutely look forward to coming back to this place for years to come. The temps were unseasonably high, so I do look forward to coming back when the temps are more mild. But we’re so glad we made this trip despite the pandemic as attendance was lower than normal and we got to really take in the beauty of the area with minimal congestion.

See more posts about our Upper Peninsula 2020 vacation!


  1. Our only bear encounter was a cub as well. I was attempting to take a great photo (which did not work out) while my husband was fervently urging me to leave as we didn’t know where mama was.

    1. Absolutely! It’s so fun to hear it and know you’re coming up on it at any moment before actually seeing it. Like Christmas morning! ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. We live in the northern part of Michigan’s mitten. We love all the time we have spent at Pictured Rocks. Your article did a wonderful job at letting readers see the beauty you can find there. Thank you

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