» miners castle in ice land
miners castle is probably the most distinct rock formation in pictured rocks national lakeshore and in the summer it can be reached by a short walk. in the winter, however, they don't completely plow the roads and miners castle becomes snowbound, the shortest route to it being 8 miles round trip. so, we headed up saturday morning, knowing that the weather forecast was predicting it to be the coldest day of the year with subzero temperatures and windchills down to -30F. a huge storm had just swept through the area, abruptly bringing cold air and snow to the whole state. in ann arbor, the temperature dropped by almost 50 degrees overnight (50F to 2F). the national weather service issued a winter advisory that basically said to stay indoors, so our plan to spend all day outside skiing deep into the backcountry wasn't sounding so great. read more...

miners castle on a windy day.

me skiing to miners castle (taken by megan). a big storm had blown through the day before, coating the trees in snow.

cliffs as seen from miners castle.

snow blasted trees on miners castle.

big icy swells.

looking through the trees at the distant cliffs.

water to slush to ice.

the top of miners castle. on april 13th, 2006, the castle turret shown in the center of this picture fell into lake superior.

megan skiing to miners beach.

crop circles on miners beach.

me above a huge ice shelf on miners beach. spray from waves crashing into the shelf can be seen on the right. (taken by megan)

looking over the ice shelf at slushy waves. click here to see a video of the waves in action (3.8MB).

megan standing on the edge of an ice shelf. the brown color occurs because the turbulent waters cause sand to get mixed in with the water/ice. my theory on how these ice shelves form is that when it snows, the surface water becomes slushy and the waves push this slush onto the shores where it freezes. then, waves continue to crash into the piles of frozen slush, coating them with water which freezes and builds up the ice even more. what can also occur is that the lake can freeze along the shore and then waves can break up that ice and deposit it on the beach. this didn't so much look like chunks of ice though, it was more like slushy snow that had frozen together (which makes sense because the lake hasn't really frozen much this year).

this blurry picture is the best one i got of bridal veil falls (the tallest waterfall in michigan at ~140 feet).

some idiot standing out on miners castle (taken by megan).

the mostly frozen miners river.

our tracks, near miners beach.

megan skiing the final stretch back to the car.

megan at miners castle, and me skiing back from the lookout (taken by megan).

me skiing back from miners beach (taken by megan).

» spray falls
spray falls, which drops 70 feet over the cliffs into lake superior, is the most remote waterfall in pictured rocks. in the summer it is a 8 mile hike and in the winter, due to unplowed roads, it becomes a 14 mile journey. we brought snowshoes along for this trip because the trail along the cliffs is generally tight and windy, and cross country skiing next to sheer cliffs is not that wise. read more...

frozen spray falls (far right).

me skiing little beaver lake road.

icy cave near twelvemile beach.

icicles hanging from a cave ceiling.

ice covered cliff.

near spray falls.

twelvemile beach.

cliffs east of spray falls.

lake superior, and an ice bridge/volcano that formed on the beach.

me in front of an ice cave (taken by megan).

looking towards grand portal point.

ice, cliff, and frozen little beaver creek.

lake superior.

ice ice ice.

twelvemile beach.

ice seeps.

me eating a powerbar (taken by megan). click here to see a video of the ice cave (1.5MB)

megan snowshoeing.

ice shelf. click here to see a video of the waves in action (2.6MB)

me on twelvemile beach (taken by megan).

iced (taken by megan).

looking west.

megan skiing little beaver lake road.

looking at the spray falls viewpoint.

us, and icicles.

» other things

the bridge, coming and going.

sled dogs (there was a race that ended in munising).


< Back to Photos & Trip Reports

» all photo reports from michigan's upper peninsula

Thinking about traveling to Pictured Rocks yourself? You might want to read my guide to Pictured Rocks.

Ice Climbing, Michigan
March 4 - 5, 2011
Ice Climbing at Pictured Rocks with a side trip to Miners Castle.
Ice Climbing, Michigan
March 4 - 5, 2010
Ice climbing in the Sand Point area of Pictured Rocks.
The Upper Peninsula, Michigan
October 2 - 11, 2009
Enjoying fall in the Upper Peninsula from Pictured Rocks to the Porcupine Mountains to the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
October 3, 2009
Spending a short day on the island and enjoying the views, even without the influence of fudge.
Pictured Rocks, Michigan
March 7 - 9, 2008
Skiing & snowshoeing in the Miners Castle & Grand Sable Dunes areas. We also checked out the ice in Grand Marais & Mackinac Straits.
Pictured Rocks, Michigan
March 17, 2007
Hiking along the ice shelf from Twelvemile Beach to Spray Falls.
Pictured Rocks, Michigan
January 27, 2007
Skiing & hiking the Chapel Loop in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on a stormy day.
Pictured Rocks, Michigan
March 2 - 4, 2006
Ice climbing and skiing in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Pictured Rocks, Michigan
January 7, 2006
A backcountry ski trip to the remote lakeshore cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Pictured Rocks, Michigan
July 3 - 4, 2005
Hiking in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and checking out some of the other sights in the area.
Pictured Rocks, Michigan
February 25 - 26, 2011
Backpacking the Chapel Loop in winter, with a side trip to Spray Falls.
Bare Bluff, Michigan
October 8, 2009
A fall hike to Bare Bluff, one of the more scenic areas of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Pictured Rocks, Michigan
October 4 - 11, 2009
Some stormy fall weather along the Pictured Rocks lakeshore.
Ice Climbing, Michigan
February 25 - 27, 2009
Ice climbing in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Pictured Rocks, Michigan
August 30 - September 2, 2007
Back to the Great Lakes with a rare summer visit to Pictured Rocks to see what it all looks like when it's green.
Mackinac Straits & Pictured Rocks, Michigan
March 16 - 18, 2007
Skiing to Miners Castle, lingering in the Straits of Mackinac, and some other stuff.
Pictured Rocks in Fall, Michigan
October 7, 2006
Hiking the Chapel Loop & checking out other sights like Spray Falls, Miners Castle, Miners Beach, Munising Falls, Grand Sable Dunes, etc.
Pictured Rocks, Michigan
February 19 - 20, 2006
Skiing & snowshoeing the Pictured Rocks backcountry. Areas visited include: Miners Castle, Miners Beach, Twelvemile Beach, and Spray Falls.
The Upper Peninsula, Michigan
December 26 - 28, 2005
Winter pictures from Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.