Attractions,  Michigan Giving

Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises

By Megan Heynen

If you live in Michigan, there is a good chance that you have heard of the Upper Peninsula’s (UP) Pictured Rocks. However, there is less of a chance that you have had the opportunity to go up to the UP and see them with your own eyes. Pictured Rocks is located on the South shore of Lake Superior and is a strip of unusual sandstone formations that goes on for miles. Pictured Rocks has always been a popular tourist destination. Over 50 years ago, Pictured Rocks Cruises, LLC began offering boat rides around the rocks to allow visitors to see them up close and personal. These cruises run from mid-May through mid-October, as those are the warmest months in Michigan.

As the years have passed, these cruises have grown in popularity. Pictured Rocks Cruises has different cruise options for guests, two of them are the “classic” and the “sunset.” These cruises are about 2 hours and 35 minutes and cost $38 for adults. Another type of cruise offered is the “spray” cruise. Spray cruises are generally 2 hours and 15 minutes and costs $45. The spray cruise follows the same course as any other, but they continue further and encounter an extra waterfall called Spray Falls. Since these cruises have been getting more popular over the years, they wanted to make sure the residents of the UP were being involved.

John Madigan, General Manager of Pictured Rocks Cruises and a native of Munising, along with his team discovered that most people who live in the Upper Peninsula (also known as “Yoopers”) had not been on the cruise. Madigan decided they were going to do something about this. In 2012, the organization created a day where the first 600 Yoopers who showed their ID could ride for free. After their first year of doing this, more businesses and people got involved. The event has grown from 60, to 1,000, and last year 3,000 people attended. Not only have they had a great turnout of people, but the number of vendors has grown as well. In 2019, they had over 100 vendors present. It has also turned into a multi-day event with music, food, crafts, a petting zoo, and so much more. Madigan stated that the benefits from this event have been huge. When asked about the benefits and drawbacks, Madigan said the only drawback is the amount of work it takes to put it together each year, but that it is 100 percent worth it and they plan to continue it for years to come.


  • 3,000 Yoopers attended last year’s Pictured Rock Days event.
  • Prior to this initiative, most Yoopers had not been on a Pictured Rocks cruise.

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