26 Jul Caves and Waves – Exploring Lake Superior Michigan
On our Surf, SUP and Paint Tour across America, I was really looking forward to seeing the Great Lakes for the first time. Here’s a rundown of our first couple days.
LAKE SUPERIOR SURFING:
I had heard stories and seen videos of dedicated surfers outside of Deluth, Michigan, riding waves on the Lake, and I wanted to see it for myself. There’s even a Lake Superior Surf Club!
Lake Superior is the biggest, deepest and coldest of the Great Lakes and it was our first stop.
We started at Stony Point, a surf spot that is rumored to get good waves. It’s about thirty miles North of Deluth. We drove down a gravel road in a heavily wooded area to reach it.
I was hoping for waves, but Stony Point was flat. However, it was picturesque and clear as the Caribbean, perfect for the paddleboard.
The water was unusually warm, almost 70 degrees. Maria and the kids had a blast climbing on the rocks and exploring the coastline. We just got Dylan a pair of Keen water sandals which came in handy as the bottom of the lake here was all rocks.
I took out the Rivera inflatable; it was on top of the van and quick to grab. The inflatable is my recon board – I can just easily throw it in the water to check things out!
As I paddled around the point, I met two local surfers on their paddleboards. They greeted me with a warm hello, friendliness that you don’t find in many places.
The three of us sat on our boards and exchanged surf stories. We found that we had mutual friends; Greg Long and Colin McPhillips from San Clemente had come in the past and surfed the waves on the lake.
They said that it gets so cold here that icicles will form on your hoodie when surfing in the winter season.
This summer they have had more waves than normal and that there have been many good surfing days. I imagine it being like the Minnesota Waikiki – but with only a couple guys out!
They told me that I have to see Pictured Rocks on the other side of the lake – about a 7 hour drive. The perfect place to take my family paddleboarding.
So I did. And it was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen.
PICTURED ROCKS – MINERS BEACH AND SANDSTONE CAVES
We drove all day around Lake Superior to get to Pictured Rocks. After seven hours of driving, we still weren’t halfway around the lake. The lake is IMMENSE.
The Pictured Rocks Park is over 40 miles of cliffs, waterfalls, forest, rivers and sandy beaches; a paddleboarder’s dream.
It’s hard to believe that Pictured Rocks is in Michigan. This has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.
It’s a mix between Hawaii and New Zealand, with its Caribbean-blue waters and forested coastline. The water was unbelievably clean and clear.
To get to the sandy Miner’s Beach area, you drive through a dense forest. Despite the awesomeness of the place, there weren’t many people on the beach.
As we paddled below the cliffs, exploring the caves, water was bouncing and churning and there was a strong current, much like the ocean.
Maria hopped on the Coastal Cruiser with Dylan and followed as Mia and I led the way on our boards.
We paddled to one of the many caves in the area and anchored the boards so we could explore it.
All four of us climbed inside the cave – the sound of the waves echoed throughout the rock, creating a thundering BOOM each time a big wave came.
There was a crack that you could crawl through to get into the cave, then swim out to the other side where there was open water.
It was the perfect natural playground; there were slides on the rocks and sandstone ledges to jump off of, all under towering cliffs with giant, green forests on top.
After caving, we went back to the sandy beach and started packing up to go. That’s when I saw a big passenger boat passing us on the lake, generating a wake.
This was my chance; the set wave was coming! It was only about shin-high, but I paddled my new 9’0” Riviera Paddleboard out and caught the first wave of the set. I rode it to the sand.
Glad that I can now say I surfed Lake Superior!
Lake Superior and Pictured Rocks is a hidden treasure. I think they should call this place the Superior Sea, because it doesn’t feel like a lake to me!
Life is Good – Drew
PS: I finally got some good surf last night on Lake Michigan – I’ll post on that next!