Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Charging Entrance Fee For The First Time In 55 Years

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There has never been an entrance fee at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, located on Lake Superior’s south shore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but that’s about to change.

Camping and lighthouse tour fees at Pictured Rocks will increase starting January 1, 2022, Then, beginning March 1, Pictured Rocks will begin charging entrance fees.

“The new fee will provide much-needed funding for park improvements,” David Horne, National Lakeshore superintendent, said.

A Scenic Location

Pictured Rocks, one of four national shorelines, was designated by Congress as America’s first national lakeshore in 1966. It’s known for pristine beaches, 100 miles of hiking trails, towering sandstone cliffs, and the quiet Northwoods.

What’s more, the 42-mile shoreline has 15 miles of cliffs, streams, waterfalls, and hidden bogs, 63 front-country campsites, and 14 backcountry campsites. Because the park is open year-round, visitors can hike, canoe, kayak, camp, go birding, see the fall colors — and even go ice climbing, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing in the winter.

Pictured Rocks also offers a number of attractions for history buffs. They include the lighthouse built in 1874, several early U.S. Coast Guard buildings, a logging chute area, and a Civil War-era iron blast furnace site.

By the way, the name “Pictured Rocks” comes from the mineral streaks that decorate the seaside cliffs. When groundwater seeps out of cracks and trickles down the rock face, iron leaves red and orange streaks, copper leaves blue and green streaks, manganese leaves brown and black streaks, and limonite leaves white streaks.

Growing Pains

Like most national parks and wilderness areas, Pictured Rocks has seen a surge in attendance in recent years.

In 2010, for instance, less than 500,000 people visited Pictured Rocks. In 2020, however, 1.2 million people visited Pictured Rocks, the National Park Service reports.

It is that popularity that has led to the need to collect entrance and other fees.

Basic park operations are funded by direct appropriations from Congress. However, recreation use fees and entrance fees collected by national parks are used to support ongoing park facility maintenance and new projects that “directly enhance the visitor experience including maintaining and improving trails, campground facilities, visitor centers, monitoring park resources, and developing the area for future public use, as well as funding seasonal work positions,” the National Park Service explains.

Earlier this year, a proposal — to add an entrance fee and increased fees for camping and lighthouse tours at Pictured Rocks — was presented to the public for feedback. Many people specifically noted that they support using collected fees for park improvements directly related to visitor enjoyment, access, and health and safety, the National Park Service notes.

“We’re very thankful for the support we received during the public comment period,” superintendent Horne said.

The New Fees

Park officials said that beginning January 1, 2022, campground fees will increase from $20 to $25 per night per site at the park’s Little Beaver Lake, Twelvemile Beach, and Hurricane River campgrounds. Au Sable Lighthouse tours will be $5 per person.

The new entrance fees will be phased in over a 3-year period beginning March 1, 2022. That fee will be $5 per person who walks, bikes, or boats into the park, and it will be good for 7 days. Seven-day passes for vehicles and motorcycles will be $10. Those fees will then increase each year through 2024.

Know Before You Go

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is open year-round, 24 hours a day, however, many roads are closed in the winter due to snow. The lakeshore is less than an hour away from Marquette and is located between the towns of Munising and Grand Marais.

Pro-Tip: GPS doesn’t work well in the area, so use the official park map instead. You can find those maps here.

You can find more information about operating hours and fees here.

If you’d like to learn more about Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, be sure to read:

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