Pictured Rocks National Seashore
We arrived at the northern precipice of our 2017 travel route with ambitions to kayak along the shoreline during our two-day stay at Pictured Rocks National Seashore. It was not until the drive up from Sleeping Bear Dunes that we read of the kayak restrictions; 15 feet or longer and sea-kayaks with skirts only. They were quite adamant about it, and only my kayak met that standard (although I have no skirt). We considered renting a sea-kayak for Kerri, but the cost was excessive now that we were “in season” and in a national park. Eventually, we had to except that kayaking at Painted Rocks just wasn’t going to happen, so we came up with another plan.
Stage one was to simply go auto-tour the seashore and hike a few short trails our to to see some of the local waterfalls and such. The rangers in the visitor’s center were extremely helpful in advice on which places to go see and in what order.
We only had a few short hours to tackle the land-based visit, as Kerri thought of a brilliant replacement for the kayaking that we could not do… Stage 2 was a sunset boat tour of the shoreline. The two and a half hour tour brought us up close to many of the major sights along the rocky shoreline. Even with kayaks some of these would have been outside our ability thanks to the distance, so in the end we were able to see more this way. This also meant we did not spend all the next day paddling so we had options for that day as well.
As before, I left feeling a bit of regret that we did not schedule more time to explore these places in Michigan. As with Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks would have been an ideal place to have set out for a multi-day backpacking trip. The trail that follows the shoreline looks beautiful, and the places to camp along the way – visible from the boat tour – looked amazing. Unfortunately, we had already reserved out campsites for a few weeks further up the road, which fixed us firmly in our timeline. And that is why I hate reservations. I’m just not accustomed to having to live up to actual deadlines anymore, such is the way of full-time nomadic living.
In the end, and because of Kerri’s quick thinking about the boat tour, we were able to high-tail it out of Painted Rocks after only a single night’s stay (as opposed to two) which allowed us to make it a more reasonable drive to Duluth, MN for the work week. Originally planned to make a 6+ drive all on Monday, we were instead able to break it up into two couple-hour days and we found a great, free, overnight spot along the way.
Next for us; Minnesota… aye!