Goodnight, sandstone cliffs. Goodnight, sun. Thanks for making us shine.

Grand Island off Munising, MI, Upper Peninsula

My husband, Barry, had his one month post-surgery second knee replacement appointment in Marquette on Tuesday afternoon.  He’s healing so nicely we decided to play!

We drove an hour further east to Munising and boarded a sunset shipwreck tour headed toward Grand Island.  (That’s Upper Peninsula, Michigan, for any of you new readers.)

I could show you a dozen shipwreck photos but wanted to share these magnificent photos of the sandstone cliffs off the western and northern sides of Grand Island.


Clouds dotted the sky as we cruised on the 63-foot boat through Munising Bay.  I snapped lots of pictures, but the colors looked a bit–well, washed out–and blah.  Darn clouds, I thought, go away, come again some other day.

Grand Island is a four by seven mile island which features, the tour guide informed us, the largest beaver dam in North America.  (Not that we saw it from the boat.)

Here is your Quick Guide to Sandstone in these cliffs, you wanna-be geologists:

1.  The white layer is limestone.

2.  The green layer is oxidizing copper.

3.  The orange layer is–c’mon you can guess–rusting iron ore, and

4.  The brown layer is tannin from trees.

Some of the cliffs at the west end of Grand Island are 200 feet tall, no kiddin’, you wouldn’t want to fall off one of these.

We cruised north when suddenly, is it so?, the sun shone through the clouds, illuminating the sandstone cliffs.

The sun turned the cliffs to fiery orange and red–gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

Lots of folks visit the Pictured Rocks east of Munising, but readers, I swear these cliffs at sunset were just as beautiful.  Don’t you agree?

Please come aboard our sunset cruise and enjoy looking at these photos.  You can sit atop the boat for a panoramic view (although you may get windblown) or you can come inside for a soda or water and look through the glass-bottomed partitions at shipwrecks as we pass.

You may be so glad we chose the sunset cruise.

The sun reflected deep hues of red and orange off the cliffs as it dove into Lake Superior whispering, “Good night, sandstone cliffs.”

I swear I heard the cliffs reply, “Goodnight, sun.  Thanks for making us shine.”

Tendrils of roots

Do you see the face? The teeth?

Close-up creature of sandstone & sea

Peaceful waters

Boat moors

Sunset reflects against sandstone

Your photographer for the evening (with windblown hair)


Evening rocks

Stunning outcrop

Man, dog, boat

Rivers of red rock

Bald eagle dries wings in tree above rocks

Where rock meets lake


Wow, you might say. Wow…

You might just keep snapping 355 photos.

Cracked stone

Nature’s pictographs in sandstone at sunset

What a lovely ride on the Munising Shipwreck tour boat!

Through boat window

Wouldn’t it be lovely to kayak beneath these cliffs?

Lighthouse on north Grand Island

Barry admires the rocks on our evening cruise

Oh aren’t we glad we went on a sunset cruise?


What a lovely 2 1/2 hour cruise

Good night, sweethearts…time to return to shore (I only have 20 other sunset pics I could show you!)

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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109 Responses to Goodnight, sandstone cliffs. Goodnight, sun. Thanks for making us shine.

  1. Fountainpen says:

    Lovely indeed!

  2. Dawn says:

    How stunning, what a gift to end the day.

  3. Cogtography says:

    These are stunning photographs of such illuminating and attention grabbing cliffs, you have composed them well, good post!

  4. Awesome…especially when the Sun was setting. Really set off the colors in the cliffs. Notice when the sky was blah…your best shots came from eliminating the sky in the frame. The photo just above yourself (nice to see you!) is my favorite.

    There is a reason they call them the Great Lakes and it is not always because of their size.

    • Kathy says:

      Good point, Scott. I still have trouble “thinking” photographically. I can “feel” photographically and take pics, but it’s hard for me to think that way. Barry said that pic was his favorite, too. I LOVE the Great Lakes–all of them. 🙂

  5. lisaspiral says:

    I saw the title and was hoping for photos. You don’t disappoint. Love the sunset cruise!

  6. Karma says:

    So pretty. Looks like a relaxing ride – lovely way to wind up a day of play.
    BTW, try changing your white balance on the Rebel to cloudy when the colors look blah – it warms them up a bit (push the butter that says WB, then select the picture of the cloud 🙂 )

    • Kathy says:

      Ms. Karma, wow, why would I never even remember that “white balance” exists? As I was just telling Scott (up above) it is hard for me to think like a photographer. Some lady on the cruise started assuming I knew about photography when she viewed Ms. Rebel and started asking me questions. My befuddled look must have shut her up. 🙂

  7. Karma says:

    ooooopsss!! Button, button, I meant button, not butter! LOL!

  8. P.j. grath says:

    We did this tour on a very windy afternoon, and it was spectacular then, too. I always tell people headed that way not to miss the cruise.

  9. Kerry Dwyer says:

    Lovely pictures as ever.

  10. sybil says:

    I saw your title and thought of “Good night moon”. Was that your inspiration for it ?

    Sorry I missed the boat. Did you see me standing on the wharf waving for you to come back and pick me up ?

    I just love the cliff shots, the layers and your explanation of what the layers are.

    • Kathy says:

      Ms. Sybil, you are oh-so-perceptive! Of course it was the inspiration. 🙂 I DID see you waving on the wharf, but the captain refused to come back, darn him. You may also thank Barry for taking such good notes about the sandstone layers. I was too busy taking pics to take notes, pardon moi.

  11. Tammy says:

    I also thought of Good night Moon! Love your photos Kathy – such incredible geological renderings.

  12. susanblake says:

    Awesome, Kathy! It’s on my list of adventures for up north!

  13. Sara says:

    What beautiful scenery, and you captured it perfectly in your photos! I hope the cruise was as relaxing as you made it appear.

  14. bonnie says:

    Oh so beautiful. Thank you Kathy. Fantastic pictures. ‘Wow” scenery. Even though I haven’t been to the upper peninsula since childhood, looking at the pictures made me think of my Gran and Gramps, who took us there. Thanks again.

    • Kathy says:

      Bonnie, glad to show the *wow* scenery. I am glad it reminded you of Gran and Gramps. We traveled here as children, too, back in 1968 or 69. Did you see the cliffs off Munising during your trip? We didn’t. It takes 30+ years of living here to see everything apparently!

  15. john says:

    What a wonderful evening! This is the perfect way to celebrate the good news in Marquette. Can’t wait to see the pictures of the ships.

    • Kathy says:

      John, I am not sure I am going to show pics of the ships. (Will you be mad?) Barry is going to write his newspaper column about it, but I am not sure that it intrigues me as much as him…

  16. AnnieR says:

    You are a most excellent cruise director! I’ve been to Pictured Rocks but have to agree with you, these are just as beautiful. Another item for the ‘must visit’ list-thanks!

    • Kathy says:

      AnnieR, my goodness, if I had heard your comment before I might have actually PRETENDED to be the cruise director! Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. Up to the left you will see… (You get the picture. May you someday visit the cliffs!)

  17. Incredible scenery! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing such beautiful pictures!

  18. Gorgeous, Kathy! My favorite is the photo that shows an area for boating beneath–the one with the tunnel, of sorts. How fun that would be. And good to hear that Barry continues to heal well!

    • Kathy says:

      Wouldn’t that be a fun boat trip, Kathy? An even more fun kayak trip! To be up close to the cliffs… Thanks for your well-wishes for Barry’s healing.

  19. Heather says:

    The waters are so much calmer than last weekend. I’m glad I’m not the only one who snaps too many photos 😉
    It’s pretty cool that Barry is well enough to be out and about in Munising. We’ll be back up there soon, and hopefully we’ll meet again!

    • Kathy says:

      It was one of the calmest eves in the last week or so, Heather. Did you guys stop at Munising, per chance? Did you ponder taking one of the cruises? Methinks you probably didn’t have time. and, yes. I would love to meet again.

      • Heather says:

        We stayed in Wetmore and had pasties in Munising 🙂
        We did not have time, and the waves were too fierce to be out on a boat, but I would like to cruise around Grand Island or the Pictured Rocks. Might even bring the kayaks next time…

  20. These are BEAUTIFUL, Kathy! I really wish we could have taken a cruise (even if it wasn’t the sunset one), but unfortunately, with four people it gets a bit pricey.

    • Kathy says:

      Did I tell you, Michaela, we had a TV-6 deal? The tickets ordinarily cost $35 each, but they offered a 2-for-1 deal and we got both for $35. It would be cost prohibitive for four people. That’s why our poor children (or us) never went before. They were really beautiful…

      • That’s a great deal, Kathy! If we had known about a deal like that we may have gone on a cruise, too. Melissa usually counts as an adult now, and we would have bought two pairs of tickets, pretending we don’t know each other 😉

  21. Yowza! – That’s gorgeous, and yes, I saw the face and teeth! How cool is that?! I love the “tendrils of roots” (not only the photo, but the title).

    Great post, Kathy. I learned a LOT!

    • Kathy says:

      I LOVE that teeth/face photo, Laurie. I LOVE faces in nature. Spirits coming forth to share their earth-selves. And root tendrils are the best. You are so welcome. It’s not always easy to be a factual teacher, but Barry took good notes. lol!

  22. Debby Buck says:

    Beautiful! We are going back in two weeks for our yearly trip to the area. Getting very excited after seeing these pics. Thank you . . . for sharing some sunshine!

  23. Susan D. says:

    Oh my goodness! Just … well .. just stunning!! Thank you! I could stare and stare at each photo, there is just so much “there” …

  24. I loved your wind blown hair (and the rest of the photos are pretty darn good too)
    aren’t you glad you are no longer writing 200 words?

  25. Carol says:

    Such gorgeous shots – sunset is the perfect time for taking photos, and when you add to the sunset the rocks and the water – priceless!

  26. Brenda Hardie says:

    Thank you for sharing this adventure with us! The pictures are wonderful and make me want to take a trip!! When we traveled to Munising (and later to Marquette) it rained and rained and rained. Good thing we were “camping” in one of those camper cabins instead of in the tent! We never did get to take the tour…and of course the day we left, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Sure was a beautiful area and I would go back in a minute! Glad to hear Barry is healing well and good to see both you and him in the pictures ♥

    • Kathy says:

      Oh those rainy travel days, Brenda. Darn them! Yep, if you’d been in a tent you would have been plenty wet. I hope you get to come back someday. We shall meet for tea, shan’t we?

      • Brenda Hardie says:

        Yes! Kathy, if I ever make it back that way we will definitely get together for tea, or coffee or whatever…just meeting you in person would be delightful! And by the way….the other campers (in tents) at the same campground…were washed out! Saw them the next day, trying to pack up their dripping sleeping bags and clothes…what a mess! But they didn’t seem too troubled as they were laughing and having a good time, even the young kids didn’t seem bothered. I thought that was amazing! 🙂

  27. Barb says:

    Love the way Barry is relaxing and enjoying the scenery while you are doing all the WORK, Kathy (wise man…). Those sunset cliffs are fabulous, and yes, I would enjoy kayaking there. Have you ever done that? You should!

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, I cannot tell a lie. He was taking notes! I wouldn’t have had all these sandstone facts without his note-taking skills. I have never kayaked there, but would love, love, love the opportunity. My friend is giving me her old kayak, hurray!

  28. Karen says:

    Absolutely beautiful. Happy to hear Barry is doing so well.

  29. Kathy, I love these pictures! Makes me day dream and I seldom do that.

  30. Colleen says:

    There is something about sandstone and how it plays with the light. Lovely photos Kathy! Would love to see this one day.

    Are there a lot of sunken ships in the area?

    • Kathy says:

      Colleen, you would surely enjoy this tour. There are at least two ships sunk in this area. We saw one very clearly. It was an iron ore ship and it lost most of its cargo. Fascinating to peer through the glass bottom boat partitions and view the ghostly hulk.

  31. Everyone’s voiced my opinions about how lovely, beautiful and stunning these photos are. Such gorgeous land- and waterscapes! 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Dear Withershins, I loved that you paused anyway to voice YOUR opinion. No matter how many people comment here, I always love to hear all the different individual voices. Kind of like sandstone–so many different variations of color and tone.

  32. shieram says:

    Stunning place and beautiful photos, Kathy. I saw the face with teeth! 🙂 Wish I’d be able to there and see them with my own eyes.

  33. Dawn says:

    Isn’t it just amazing up there? Thanks for sharing it with all of us. Makes my heart sing to see it again.

  34. Elisa's Spot says:

    How does one get to touch!?!?! Is it inhabited?? Full of boat docks and launches??

    • Kathy says:

      Elisa, one gets to touch if one has a kayak or boat and can explore close. Yes, the island is inhabited. You take a ferry across from Munising. It is mostly populated on the southern shore–they is actually a road and small bus tour. It is not FULL of boat docks and launches, but there are a few.

  35. karlapr says:

    Gorgeous!!! Love the bald eagle and the wind-blown hair!

  36. I – late to read – can only echo what has already been said: Lovely photos of a beautiful area; thanks for taking us along, and sharing the beautiful views!

    • Kathy says:

      You weren’t too late to read, Cindy. Gosh, you were only a day behind. I am often a whole WEEK behind when I get to reading blogs. Glad you enjoyed the views. And glad you commented.

  37. Munira says:

    *SIGHHHH* eye candy of a post….thank you Kathy!

  38. Lovely photos…I disappeared into the cracked rock and will come out when the election is over too see….oh well…too see.

  39. Kathy says:

    stunning… I love this tour! It’s amazing you could get Mother Earth to pose in so many different positions : )

  40. lucindalines says:

    Those pictures are gorgeous. I think I cooled off about 10 degrees just looking at them. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us.

    • Kathy says:

      Lucinda, is it hot where you are? It’s going to be 90 degrees here today. On the night of this cruise it was very cool and lovely. Sending you some cool breezes…

  41. sonali says:

    I loved all the pictures. Kathy, you are so lucky that you got a chance to cruise in those amazing islands. I love the golden brownish shades in all the pictures. The sunset looks lovely. Thank you so much for sharing the pictures, otherwise some of us would’nt have known that such nature’s creations exist. Truly amazing!

    • Kathy says:

      Your comment makes me glad I shared this with all of you, Sonali. So happy that you enjoyed and that you celebrated nature’s creations a little bit on this blog.

  42. Robin says:

    What a beautiful tour of an obviously beautiful place at a beautiful time by a beautiful photographer! How often does that combination come together so well? 🙂

    I would really love to visit the UP again someday. M and I were there long ago, but I barely remember it since we had limited time and were trying to see all that would could on a driving/camping tour around Lake Michigan. We made it as far north as Sault Ste. Marie for a day, and then went back to Lake Michigan.

    • Kathy says:

      Wow, Robin, that’s quite a beautiful compliment by a beautiful reader. LOL–you forgot that itty bit. Without a reader such as you, the beautiful equation isn’t quite as beautiful. It is indeed a long trip through Michigan. Takes 12-15 hours to travel all the way through. Guess that’s why Michaela and her crew chose to visit over the course of two summers. C’mon again some other day, please.

  43. CMSmith says:

    Beautiful photos. This is someplace I’d like to visit. Thanks for sharing.

  44. Dana says:

    So beautiful, Kathy! I hope Barry continues to recover well. 🙂

  45. I missed this post during the time that I didn’t have an Internet connection, thanks for bringing it to my attention. I think that the next time I’m in the area, I’ll try the sunset boat ride, as your photos are stunning!

    • Kathy says:

      I thought you might like to see this, quietsolopursuits. We certainly had a nice time. It was really a miracle that we chose the sunset cruise, just because that light lit up the cliffs so much. Thanks for stopping by–and do try this cruise next time.

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