Grand Marais, Michigan – An undiscovered treasure tucked away along the breathtaking shores of Lake Superior. If you’re on the hunt for an exciting escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, with a generous side of lakeside tranquility, then Grand Marais is your ultimate destination pick. In this post, I’ll be your guide to unlocking the secrets of Grand Marais, revealing all the best things to do and see in this unassuming corner of the Upper Peninsula.
So, what’s the scoop on Grand Marais, you ask? Well, it’s a charming town with a population that can probably be counted on one hand (okay, maybe two). But don’t let its size fool you; it packs a punch when it comes to outdoor adventures and natural beauty.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
First up, we have the crown jewel of the region, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Imagine a place where the turquoise waters of Lake Superior meet the towering, multicolored sandstone cliffs, creating a breathtaking view that you just can’t find elsewhere. That’s Pictured Rocks for you. While technically not in Grand Marais, it’s close enough, and amazing enough, that I added it to this post.
The best way to experience this natural wonder is by getting on the water. There are several boat tour options available, ranging from short excursions to full-day adventures. These tours take you up close and personal with the cliffs, offering a unique perspective you can’t get from the shore.
My favorite way to see Pictured Rocks is by kayak. I had the opportunity to kayak alongside the rock formations, including the famous Lovers Leap, and venture into sea caves. I had the chance to paddle to hidden gems like Miner’s Beach, where I could step out of my kayak and explore the beach and take in the panoramic views of Lake Superior. We even kayaked right over one of the many shipwrecks in the area, which was super exciting to see.
But if you’re someone who likes to keep your feet on solid ground, being on the water isn’t the only way to see the beauty of the area. Pictured Rocks also has some incredible hiking trails. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced hiker, you’ll find something to suit your pace and skill level. The Lakeshore Trail is a personal favorite of mine, offering stunning vistas and photo opportunities around every bend.
Grand Sable Dunes
Now, let’s talk dunes – Grand Sable Dunes, to be precise. These towering sand giants rise along the shore, creating a landscape that seems more like the Sahara Desert than the Midwest. If you’re up for a challenge, consider tackling the section of the North Country Trail that winds its way through these dunes. It’s a workout, to say the least, but the views from the top are worth every drop of sweat.
One thing that sets Grand Sable Dunes apart from other dunes in the area is the sheer scale. These dunes are colossal, and conquering them gives you a serious sense of accomplishment. Plus, the solitude and quietude you’ll find here make it an ideal place for introspection and meditation.
North Country Trail
Speaking of trails, let’s look a bit deeper into the North Country Trail itself. Stretching for thousands of miles, it’s a long-distance hiker’s dream come true. But don’t let its sheer length intimidate you; you can choose a section that suits your skill level and time constraints.
What I love most about the trail in this area is how it takes you deep into the heart of the forest. There’s something soothing about being surrounded by towering trees and the sounds of nature. If you’re a biking enthusiast, you can even pedal your way through some sections of the trail.
Gitche Gumee Museum
Okay, let’s take a break from all that physical activity and dive into some local culture. The Gitche Gumee Museum is a treasure trove of local history and heritage. It’s the kind of place where you can lose yourself for hours, exploring exhibits that show the rich history of Grand Marais’ past.
What sets this museum apart is its focus on local history and culture. You won’t find generic displays here; everything is intimately connected to the town and its people. Whether you’re a history buff or just curious about the area’s roots, this is a must-visit spot.
Now, let’s talk about something I’m particularly passionate about – fishing. Grand Marais offers some fantastic angling opportunities, especially if you’re into trout, salmon, or steelhead fishing. The rivers and streams that flow into Lake Superior are teeming with these prized catches.
The Northern Lights
Grand Marais is within 2 hours of many areas that offer a great chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
Let me paint a picture of a remarkable experience that can happen during a visit to Grand Marais, Michigan. Imagine one evening, you’re gazing up at the night sky, and something extraordinary unfolds—the Northern Lights make an appearance, right there above Miner’s Beach.
It’s a clear, chilly night, and the talk around town about potential Northern Lights activity has everyone on edge with anticipation. You find a cozy spot, wrap yourself in a blanket, and look up with bated breath. Then, as if by some cosmic magic, the sky bursts into a display of green and purple hues.
Right in front of you is Miner’s Beach, its sandy shoreline quietly reflecting the celestial spectacle above. It adds an extra layer of enchantment to the experience, making you feel like you’re witnessing something truly otherworldly in this serene corner of Michigan.
It’s hard to put into words the sheer wonder and amazement that wash over you in that moment. It’s as if nature has decided to put on an exclusive performance just for you. Under that starry sky, you watch in awe as the Northern Lights dance and swirl, creating a spectacle that leaves you absolutely speechless.
These are some of the best nearby places to try to catch a glimpse:
- Marquette- A favorite for photographers and Northern Lights Enthusiasts. This town deserves a post all of its own!
- Whitefish Point
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
- Au Train
If you’re looking to make a splash, Grand Marais has you covered. The crystal-clear waters of Lake Superior are perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding.
And let’s not forget about swimming and sunbathing. The pristine beaches here are a haven for those seeking relaxation. The lake’s chillier waters are perfect for a refreshing dip on a hot summer day, and the sandy shores are ideal for lazing in the sun.
So, there you have it – a glimpse into the wonders of Grand Marais, Michigan. From the awe-inspiring Pictured Rocks to the challenging Grand Sable Dunes, the peaceful North Country Trail, and the rich cultural experiences, this place has a piece of my heart.
I can’t recommend visiting Grand Marais enough. It’s not just a destination; it’s a chance to reconnect with nature, discover new passions, and immerse yourself in a culture that’s as warm as the summer sun on Lake Superior.
I promise you won’t be disappointed. And when you do visit, don’t forget to share your own adventures and discoveries. Until then, happy trails and may your journey to Grand Marais be as rewarding as mine have been.
Hiking Photography– Tips for capturing the scenic views around you