Tourists’ visits to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore increase

MARQUETTE — The number of tourists visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Alger County increased to more than 777,000 in 2016, up about 7.5 percent from the previous year, continuing a fairly steady climb over the past decade.

The scenic shoreline, situated on more than 73,000 acres between Munising and Grand Marais, has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Upper Peninsula since it was formally incorporated into the National Park System in 1972.

“National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning more than $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well,” John Madden, Pictured Rocks’ acting superintendent, said in a recent press release.

The 777,428 people visiting Pictured Rocks last year spent nearly $33.6 million in nearby communities, according to the National Park Service report, an increase of about 9.8 percent from 2015.

The spending supported 474 jobs in the area, park officials said, and had a cumulative benefit of about $34.3 million to the local economy in Alger County.

The number of tourists visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore last year was an increase of 85.4 percent over 2006’s figure of about 419,300, according to data on the National Park Service’s website.

The lakeshore is known for its multicolored sandstone cliffs, which reach a height of 200 feet above Lake Superior and stretch 15 of the 42 miles of shoreline within park boundaries, according to the website. While commercially operated ships offer passengers unique overviews of the cliffs and guided kayak tours provide participants with close-up perspectives of the shoreline, miles of hiking trails and numerous waterfalls also draw tourists toward the interior of the park.

Across the country, about 331 million people visiting national parks last year spent roughly $18.4 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park, supporting around 271,500 jobs in those areas, park authorities said.

About 31.2 percent of park visitor spending was on lodging, according to the report, followed by 27.2 percent on food and beverages, 11.7 percent on fuel, 10.2 percent on admissions and fees, 9.7 percent on souvenirs and other expenses, 7.4 percent on local transportation, and 2.5 percent on camping fees.

Nationally, the report states about 318,000 jobs were supported by the visitor spending, having a $34.9 billion cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy.

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Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is

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State tourism industry sees upward trend