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Fall is an amazing time to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Upper Michigan. USA Today named the Upper Peninsula as the best place to view fall colors in 2020 and Pictured Rocks is the perfect place to do it.
Not only can you enjoy the incredible sandstone cliffs with multicolored forests as a background, but you’ll also be able to hike in much cooler temperatures. Fall is a great time for exploring Pictured Rocks from the water and getting to see the beauty of the area via kayak or boat. Fall at Pictured Rocks tends to mean comfortable temperatures and fewer tourists.
What is visiting like in the fall?
September is the first month of fall and can sometimes still feel like summer…
Visiting in September
If you’re visiting in September you’ll be able to enjoy average temperatures of 49° to 65° Fahrenheit. September tends to be one of the rainiest months of the year with around 4 inches of rain. While you’ll definitely get some hot days at Pictured Rocks in September don’t forget to pack weatherproof clothing if you’re planning outdoor activities.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is open 24 hours throughout the year. Both visitor centers in the park are open in September from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm except for Labor Day.
The Munising Bay Cruisers Classic Car Cruise & Car Show usually takes place in the area during mid-September. Keep an eye out for the exact dates on the Munising website.
Visiting in October
October is a great time to visit as temperatures are still mild and you’ll get to experience the fall foliage at its most beautiful. Temperatures are between average lows of 38° Fahrenheit and highs of around 53° Fahrenheit. October is usually as rainy as September, maybe even more with an average rainfall of up to 4,2 inches. Despite the rain, you’ll still get plenty of sunny days in October. Pictured Rocks is a great place to come for Halloween and make your visit extra spooky.
Grand Sable Visitor Center closes in mid-October for the annual winter break. Munising Falls Visitor Center remains open from Wednesday to Saturday to 4:30 pm. Before that, both centers are open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day except for Columbus Day where only the Munising Falls Visitor Center is open. You can still visit the park even if the visitor centers are closed.
Visiting in November
November usually brings the first snow of the season. You’ll be able to enjoy the last of the fall foliage and less rain than September and October. Average temperatures range between 28° and 40° Fahrenheit with up to 13 inches of snow. Definitely pack warm clothes if you’re visiting Pictured Rocks during November.
The Grand Sable Visitor Center is closed in winter. Munising Falls Visitor Center is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. It is closed on both Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. You can still visit the park on these days.
Places To Stay Nearby
Seeing fall colors at Pictured Rocks
Don’t forget your camera – you will totally want to catch all the great fall colors and sites when you visit! To help you out with this, we created a photography bucket list!
The forests tend to be at their most colorful from late September into early October. If you’re planning a fall visit to enjoy the colorful leaves make sure to plan your trip around this time.
A great way to enjoy the colorful fall foliage is from the water. You can either join a guided kayak tour or even a boat cruise to take you around the shore of Lake Superior. Keep an eye out for famous landmarks like Miners Castle, Lovers Leap, and Chapel Rock as well as the Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse.
You could also go on a hike around the colorful forest to see this beautiful area in the fall. If you’re a beginner you should try the hike to Miners Falls, the most powerful waterfall in the park. The hike is short and easy and takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of Pictured Rocks. Click here for a complete guide on waterfalls at Pictured Rocks.
Another great hike to see fall colors at Pictured Rocks is the Chapel Basin Loop. You’ll have some of the best views of the stunning rock formations and can truly appreciate the beauty of the fall forest.
If hiking or kayaking is not for you why not take a scenic drive around Pictured Rocks? The H-58 is a scenic road that runs through the park and takes you to a lot of popular tourist spots. Keep an eye out for the Log Slide overlook and Sable Falls on your drive. You’ll love the colorful foliage and stunning scenery.
Camping at Pictured Rocks in the fall
You can camp here year-round. Fall is a great time to go camping in the area as it won’t be too cold yet and you’ll get to see the multi-colored forests. It might be a little too chilly to kayak though.
Remember to pre-book all drive-in campsites. Peak season at Pictured Rocks ends on October 31st which means camping fees per night drop from $20 to $15. The park’s water system is shut off during October so keep in mind to bring enough drinking water if you’re planning to stay for a bit.
Fall camping is most enjoyable at Pictured Rocks during September and October when it’s not too cold yet and you won’t come across too much snow. In November you will most likely encounter snow which means some of the roads will become inaccessible. Make sure you have appropriate gear and always put your own safety first.