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Hey! We are two Michiganders with adventurous souls looking to explore the beauties and wonders of this spectacular world. Our mission is to provide you with budget-friendly itineraries that inspire and encourage you to get outside, eat delicious foods, and enjoy high-quality brews. Ultimately, there are three key ingredients to any amazing trip: 

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Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Updated: Jul 27

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Taking in Pictured Rocks from the water definitely provides a unique perspective of the beautiful sandstone cliffs that make up the park. With about 60 miles of driving and 100 miles of trails encompassing Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from Munising to Grand Marais, there is much to explore by land.

While most people say the best views of Pictured Rocks are from the water, that is not to discredit the amazing trails that lead to breathtaking waterfalls, historical landmarks, forest wilderness, and cliff-top views. In our opinion, with limited time, you should preference the land activities of Pictured Rocks as it will allow you to explore a variety of what Pictured Rocks has to offer in just one day.

If you are looking for a more relaxing trip at Pictured Rocks, you may also consider a Boat Cruise, taking you on a tour of 16 attractions from Munising to Grand Marais in just 2.5 hours. Given more time, you may also consider adding a guided kayak tour to witness the colorful sandstone of Pictured Rocks up close.

Pictured Rocks Kayaking Guide

Pictured Rocks Travel Guide: Kayaking Adventures


Pictured Rocks Travel Guide: Kayaking Adventures


Pictured Rocks Travel Guide: Kayaking Adventures


Pictured Rocks Travel Guide: Kayaking Adventures


Kayaking Safety & Conditions

If planning to Kayak on Lake Superior, NPS has recommendations & requirements for your safety

  1. You must have a Sea Kayak on Lake Superior (long & slim for coastal paddling)

  2. No recreational kayak or canoes should be used on Lake Superior. If you do not have a Sea Kayak, consider kayaking the Au Train River or Beaver Lake.

  3. PFD (Personal Flotation Device)/Life Jacket

  4. Required for each person in the boat and required to be worn at all times in the water

  5. Whistle or Air Horn

  6. Required to be attached to you for immediate use while in the water and must be audible for a half mile distance.

  7. Inform a friend/family of your float plan & timing

  8. If you do not return as planned, they can get a search started

  9. Check the Marine Weather Forecast

  10. Weather changes quickly and makes a difference if you are kayaking open water, a bay, or near the shore.

  11. Recommended: Know how to re-enter your kayak, wear a wetsuit, & paddle with others

NPS Kayak Safety Brochure

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Also Read: Pictured Rocks Complete Guide

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide


Group Kayaking Tours

Pictured Rocks Kayaking

Tandem Sea Kayaks ($168/Adult and $128/Youth 12 & Under)

Enjoy 2 hours (about 5 miles of kayaking) near the most picturesque parts of Pictured Rocks. The total trip is about 4-5 hours, with the remaining time being a tour by boat shuttle to the launch of your kayaks around the mouth of the Mosquito River. The boat follows nearby during your kayaking time to allow for emergency help and restrooms, making this tour accessible for various ages and skill levels.

Compared to other kayak tour companies based in Munising, we have found that Pictured Rocks Kayaking offers the best kayaking route and optimizes your time on the water by viewing the most picturesque stretch from Mosquito Beach to Chapel Rock (same stretch of lakeshore as the Chapel Basin Hike from our complete guide). The pricing is competitive for the area and offering, therefore, if you preference the amenities and guidance that a guided kayak tour offers, booking with Pictured Rocks Kayaking is your best bet.

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Tickets: $168/Adult

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

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Au Train River

Kayaks starting at $25 for the full day!

Enjoy a 3 hour kayak ride down the Au Train River, paddling 7.5 miles downstream through the Hiawatha National Forest from the Riverside Bridge to the Doucette Bridge. Northwoods Canoe & Kayak Rentals picks you up at their private parking lot located by Doucette Bridge, allowing your car to be waiting for you at the end of your journey, and shuttles you to the beginning of the tour at Riverside Bridge. Although the kayaking can be completed from bridge to bridge in roughly 2.5 hours, your rental price includes the full day up until they close at 5pm which allows for time to stop and admire nature along the river, take a swim, go fishing, or picnic along the riverbank.

The Au Train River kayaking tours are an awesome way to experience the waters of the Upper Peninsula. Northwoods Canoe & Kayak Rentals does a fabulous job of making sure your experience is fun and safe for the whole family.

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Tickets: $25 for the full day!

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Self-Guided Kayaking Tours

Launching at Miners Beach

Sea Kayak Required

First things first. If you are bringing your own Sea Kayak and plan on kayaking Lake Superior without a tour guide, be sure you know the proper safety precautions as Lake Superior can be very dangerous. We believe Miners Beach is the best spot to start a self-guided kayak tour of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We would recommend using the guide from Pictured Rocks Kayaking as your map to a self-guided tour. The stretch from Miners Beach to Chapel Rock is 10 miles and would take an estimated 4 hours round-trip to complete.

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Other places that NPS recommends you can launch your Kayak is at Twelvemile Beach or Hurricane River Campground on the northern side, or Sand Point Beach on the southern side. While these launch locations offer beautiful beaches, close proximity to parking, and gorgeous views of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from the water, we believe launching at Miners Beach gets you closest to the most picturesque sandstone and natural wonders that make Pictured Rocks so incredibly unique. After all, that is why most guided tours have paying customers to bring them near this stretch of colorful cliffs.

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Tip: know the proper safety precautions when kayaking without a group

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide


Little Beaver Lake

Any Kayak/Canoe

If you do not own a Sea Kayak or are looking for a safer alternative to kayaking on Lake Superior, Beaver Lake is a great option for boating with a recreational kayak or canoe. There is a boat launch at Little Beaver Campground (which has 8 awesome campsites on Little Beaver Lake). From here, you can kayak around Little Beaver Lake and/or take the channel on the northeast corner of the lake to access Beaver Lake. We took the channel to Beaver Lake and saw a deer crossing the water right in front of us! With the only way to access Beaver Lake being the small channel from Little Beaver Lake, these waters were truly serene.

We felt as though we had the lake to ourselves as we paddled around and stopped as lake-side beaches near the perimeter. Kayaking on Beaver Lake is one of our Upper Peninsula highlights to this day. You cannot beat a peaceful lake surrounded by nature with crystal clear waters that provides a much more comfortable swimming experience than the frigid Lake Superior.

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Tip: We got our Intex Explorer K2, Two-Person Inflatable Kayak from and love it! It comes with a pump, paddles, and bag for carrying. The inflation process takes about 5 minutes total and we enjoy how easy it is to throw this kayak in our trunk for on-the-go adventures.

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide


Boat Cruises at Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks Cruises

$40/Person; 2.5 Hours

The NPS recommended boat tour of Pictured Rocks is Pictured Rocks Cruises. With daytime tours and sunset tours, taking a boat tour is a nice and affordable way to add some views of Pictured Rocks from the water without eating away too much time from your trip. What this boat tour offers that hiking and kayaking does not, is the ability to see 16 miles of colored cliffs, sea caves, and beautiful beaches from the water while still having time and energy to explore more of Pictured Rocks by land. The Classic Cruise takes you to 16 highlights and is the most popular option at $40 for 2.5 hours of cruise time.

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Tickets: $40/Person for a 2.5 Hour Boat Cruise

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Enjoy our Pictured Rocks Kayaking tips? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Happy Adventuring!


Pictured Rocks Kayaking: Adventure Guide

Travel Planning Resources

Below are the resources we use to plan all of our trips, find great deals, and pack our bags with affordable gear. We received a small kickback whenever you purchase something through a link on our site. But rest assured, there is no additional cost to you. In fact, in some cases you even get a greater discount for shopping through NBV! A Win, Win!

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