Wednesday, September 14, 2011

12 Mile Beach Camping in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Friends Marsha and Jim are up from Ann Arbor. Despite having to make mineral art for the show in Deer Park this weekend, I just had to take a day off. I headed out Monday night after working the museum to the 12 Mile Campground, located around 15 miles west of Grand Marais.

One new thing this last year or so is that the second and west-most loop of the campground is generator free.  Since the access road H58 is now paved -- all except the last mile into the campground -- more RVs with generators are using the campground. 

Like all the campground in the Upper Peninsula, you have to take care to store your food in a locked vehicle or hung from one of the bear poles provided by the park service.  I have heard stories about bears clawing through the wall of a tent in order to get to a candy bar.

The campground is located along the Hiawatha Water Trail.  Gitche Gumee, the Ojibwa (Native American) name for Lake Superior, has inspired all who have stood on her shore or paddled her waters. Running 120 miles from Big Bay to Grand Marais Michigan on Lake Superior’s south shore, the Hiawatha Water Trail (HWT) follows a shoreline paddled by Native Americans, Voyageurs and early European explorers. Experience some of the most scenic paddling available in the Midwest at places such as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Grand Island National Recreation Area, Hiawatha National Forest and other public lands. Stopping in at the communities of Big Bay, Marquette, Munising and Grand Marais, a paddler finds places filled with history and friendly people.  For more information visit the web page

The campground is also located on the North Country Hiking Trail.

All along the campground there is a bluff trail as well as the beach and the road through the campground.

As usual, I set up my bed in the back of my Suburban.  Some people make fun of me, but I have to say it is quite comfortable.

I woke up just before 7:00 am.  My friends were not yet awake so I decided to walk down to the beach to watch the day arrive.  I would have said to watch the sunset, but the clouds did not allow that.  Temperatures were in the 40s, but with 35 mph winds, it felt a whole lot colder.  It certainly was a fall-like day! Here is a picture I took at first light.

Just for contrast, here is another picture taken yesterday morning with around eight foot waves.  Compare it to the picture I took the night before with almost no waves.  The waves were definitely loud!

As you can see from the following photo, the waves were randomly moving way up the beach.

Here is a shot looking straight out at the waves. 

One of the games I play with Lake Superior is to stand on the previous high water mark, temporarily etched in the sand by the waves.  As you can see in the following shot, the Lake forced me back up the beach and won yesterday's "game of tag."

I spotted this attempt at making a raft. 

The waves just kept rolling in.

Nature's mineral art, helped a little by someone who piled up the beach rocks to make a cairn.

I headed up the second set of steps and walked back to our campsite.


  1. Pretty cold weather to be sleeping in a car isn't it?

  2. No--actually it was just fine! I camp in my car a lot so I have it down to a science.