Busy summer tourism season expected at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

A photo taken along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
A photo taken along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.(WLUC/Alissa Pietila)
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 8:21 PM EDT
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MUNISING, Mich. (WLUC) - The Munising area has seen a steady increase in visitors since 2010 with a 30% spike during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those numbers leveled off last year to from 1.2 million visitors in 2021 down to 962,000. Now, they’re anticipating another strong year for tourism with about a million people expected to visit this summer.

“We anticipate a busy season, it’s always really hard to predict exactly how many people are going to visit in any given year but what we normally do is go by the previous years to get an idea of who’s going to visit this year, last year we had just under a million visitors and this year we’re anticipating somewhere around a million again,” said Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Chief of Interpretation & Education Zach Gostlin.

With an expected increase in visitors, park staff says you need to plan ahead before making your visit to Alger County.

“We’re really encouraging people to plan like a park ranger, so, before they come out to the park you can visit our website, you can even download the official national park service mobile app, you can follow our social media accounts to get live updates on what’s happening in the park in real-time updates about what’s going on,” Gostlin added.

This year, fees have increased at Pictured Rocks, including a seven-day vehicle pass at $20. You can also get an annual pass for $30. Whether it’s visiting Pictured Rocks, Hiawatha National Forest, or any of the 17 waterfalls or beaches in Alger County, tourists can help stimulate the local economy.

“Hotels, gas stations, restaurants, the grocery store even, I don’t think people think about it terms of the cashier at the grocery store or the gas stations doubling their employees, more hours for the employees who are there, it has an enormous impact on the Munising area, it is the number one economic driver at this point for this area,” said Cori-Ann Cearly, Munising Visitors Bureau president & director.

Businesses thrive on tourism and that helps them remain open in the winter for local residents.

“We have a very small local population of 2,000 people and if you look at other areas that have about 2,000 people they don’t have as many businesses that are open, many of them do stay open year-round to service the local community in between the tourism seasons, but [summer] is kind of where they make the majority of the money they make for a year to be able to stay open and employee people year-round,” Cearly added.

Park officials remind visitors to plan ahead, bring the right equipment, be good stewards of the environment and be mindful of the elevated fire danger in the area.

“Fire danger is really high so we’re really encouraging people to plan ahead before they come to the park too, really avoid fires if it’s a really dry, hot, windy day and maybe plan ahead and prepare, bring a grill with you instead of having those hot dogs over the fire,” Gostlin said.

If you’re planning a trip this summer, we’ve included some links to online resources to get you started, including this Pure Michigan page.