Mother Nature blended her most breathtaking colors and textures to create a Northern masterpiece in Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
By Mary Liz Austin
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is one of our favorite autumn destinations. The Northern forest’s brilliantly colored leaves combine with the clear blue waters of Lake Superior to paint some spectacular fall scenes.
But when we stop for supplies, my husband and I can’t help overhearing excited chatter about an impending snowstorm. The Yoopers, as the locals are known, eagerly anticipate the prospect of early skiing, but Terry and I are hoping the snow won’t bury our entire photography season.
The lakeshore is named for 200-foot bluffs colored by mineral-rich water seeping through layers of sandstone that’ve been sculpted into dramatic columns and caves by winds, waves and ice. With a backdrop of Superior’s blue waters and autumn leaves, it’s quite a show. The paved trail to Miner’s Castle, the most famous formation, offers spectacular views of the shoreline and lake.
But that’s just the beginning. Two quaint towns anchor either end of the national lakeshore. On the western end, Munising boasts Munising Falls, a 50-foot ponytail waterfall in a beautiful sheltered canyon of yellow sandstone. On the eastern end, the town of Grand Marais offers easy access to Au Sable Point Lighthouse, Grand Sable Dunes and Sable Falls. And rolling, winding County Road H-58, which connects the two towns, ranks among the most scenic drives in America.
The overnight storm brings only a dusting of snow, so we get out early to see if we can capture some sunrise light, and it is cold. I’m shivering in my winter parka and all the wool I own when I notice several Yoopers hiking by. They’re easily recognizable by the light nylon jackets they wear, as if it’s a warm fall day. You have to be a hardy soul to live up here, but I guess that’s part of what’s helps preserve the unspoiled beauty of this very special place.
Photography by Terry Donnelly