Places We've Shaped

A Leave No Trace Guide to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Brice - September 2, 2018

Munising, MI: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers a bit of everything the upper peninsula of Michigan is known for. Whether you hike, backpack, paddle, birdwatch, picnic or ice climb, this park has something for you. But with ease of access improvements and the nationwide increase in outdoor recreation, the area is facing significant impact pressure. Visitation to Pictured Rocks has increased by 40% over the last four years! This led to the area being nominated as a 2018 Hot Spot. Traveling Trainers spent a week at Pictured Rocks working with National Park staff to educate visitors on how they can practice Leave No Trace while in the park and protect this special place. 


Here are some ways you can help protect Pictured Rocks during your visit so we can all admire the cliffs, dunes, and forests for years to come.




The park’s sandstone features are extremely vulnerable to people walking or climbing on them. Adhere to closure signs and barricades so these awesome structures don’t collapse or erode. Closures exist both for your safety and the formations’.


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During our Leave No Trace Hot Spot trailwork and cleanup day, we picked up (with gloves) over 157 piles of toilet paper from a backcountry campsite. Other than trailheads and developed beaches, there aren’t any restroom facilities within the park and you should always be prepared to dispose of human waste in a cat hole. Learn more in depth cat hole instructions here. Even if you only have to pee, make sure to pack out your toilet paper as it takes a long time to biodegrade, affects wildlife, and encourages other visitors to do the same.




Pets are allowed in a select few areas of the park; do your homework by checking the Pictured Rocks website and make sure you are keeping dogs on a leash in permitted areas. It may seem like an arbitrary rule, but endangered piping plovers can be disturbed by dogs being around and it greatly reduces nesting success rates. The National Lakeshore prohibits pets in the backcountry because they may become lost or injured by porcupines or other wildlife; intimidate other visitors; harass, injure, or kill wildlife; and disturb other hikers or campers.


By applying these Leave No Trace guidelines to your first or next outing to Pictured Rocks we can ensure that this park stays healthy for us all to use for years to come. Educate a friend or family member on the ways they can protect the nation’s first National Lakeshore, that’s the best way you can help spread Leave No Trace education



Leave No Trace's Erin Collier and Brice Esplin are part of the 2018 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, Taxa and Klean Kanteen.


Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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