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The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Boat Cruises out of Munising, Michigan are one of the better cruises on lake Superior. The trip is outstanding and offers spectacular views of the rock faces along Lake Superior. Viewing Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from the water is the best way to view the outstanding scenery of this area and the only way you can truly appreciate where the name came from. In addition to the cruise line you also have the options of renting a boat or kayak or charting a boat. The cruise line is the most convenient but the other options give you more flexibility particularly for photography.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Since I’ve only taken the cruise I’ll confine my comments to the boat cruise. I’ve made the trip several times one time taking a late morning cruse and another time taking the sunset cruse. Since I’m a photographer I would highly recommend the sunset cruse because you will see the rocks at their best when the golden light of sunset hits them. The Pictured Rocks coastline faces northwest so they will get the best light from June through August. Fortunately this coincides with the cruise line schedule. The photo on the left was taken on the morning cruise and the photo on the right on the afternoon cruise. What a difference the golden light makes.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

If you are interested in photography you will want to be on the right side of the cruise boat. If you want to sit in the upper deck, which everyone seems to want to do, you will need to arrive at least 30-45 minutes before the cruse starts so you can be assured of getting a seat on the railing. You might want to check with the cruise line to see when you should arrive since some times are busier than others. The seats are bench seats so you will want to be seated on the railing since this is about the only seat that will assure you of a good seating location for photography. The cruise line does not want you to stand up so if you are not on the railing it will be difficult to photograph when you are trying to photograph over and around other passengers. Being on the right is particularly important on the sunset cruise because the light will be the best on the way out. On the return trip you are likely to lose the golden light and the boat seems to be going a little faster on the way back.

There are several other things to consider. If you want to photograph Spray Falls there is only one cruise each day that goes to Spray Falls and this is not the sunset cruise. You may want to check with the cruise line or park service to determine the amount of water coming over the falls when making your choice of cruises. On the day cruises the staff feeds the seagulls on the return trip. This is done from the back left side of the top deck. It is not a difficult choice if you are a photographer because the sunset cruise is the only cruise that offers the golden light.

East Channel Lighthouse

The East Channel Lighthouse is also on the cruise. As I recall on the morning trip the boat goes past the lighthouse on the way back and on the sunset cruise it goes past the lighthouse on the way out. In either case the boat turns so that everyone can get a view of the lighthouse.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

I probably shouldn’t reveal my strategy but I like to stand o the fantail of the boat rather than pick a seat. This allows me to photograph without obstructing anyone’s view while having a great view myself. I also like to stand at the top of the stairs to the upper deck and photograph this also gives a great view. Not taking a seat allows me to move around to a variety of locations to pick the best place for photography.

Enjoy your trip!

More photos on my website.



One Comment

  1. very helpful 🙂

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