Posted by: kerryl29 | October 4, 2021

The Story Behind the Image: Au Sable Point Sunset

Between my visits to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 2008 and 2013, Alger County Road H-58, between Munising and Grand Marais, was completely paved. Prior to the completion of the project, which apparently took place in 2010 the vast majority of the route was gravel and of uneven grading.

Why does this matter? H-58 provides the only road access to the bulk of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which runs for more than 40 miles between the aforementioned communities on the southern shore of Lake Superior. Accessing many spots not located near Munising or Grand Marais was comparatively difficult and time consuming prior to the paving of the road; afterward, it was immeasurably easier. So when I traveled to the Upper Peninsula in early October of 2013, I planned to explore numerous locations inside the park that I had rarely or never visited before.

I discussed an unexpected hiccup to these plans–a federal government shutdown–in a blog entry chronicling the trip, but suffice to say for now that the shudown was gotten around.

One of the spots I’d always wanted to check out was Au Sable Point. The point, which is home to a handsome lighthouse, requires an easy three-mile round trip hike from the Hurricane River Campground parking area. The hike itself was never a deterrent; the problem had been getting to the campground. With H-58 now paved that was no longer a problem.

I’d actually made the hike to the lighthouse earlier on the same trip and I’d decided I wanted to make it to the Point for sunset, so that’s what I planned to do on the very last day of that trip. The potential hang up was the hike back in the pitch dark, but that was taken care of with a flashlight. Another potential problem was the presence of legions of insects–black flies and mosquitoes, mostly–because this area, right along the Superior shore, remained warmer than inland areas where a killer frost had already taken care of the bug problem. But between the use of repellent and a bit of luck (the mosquitoes were far less of a problem out on the beach and away from the forest), that situation proved tolerable, though barely.

Problems notwithstanding, the decision to head out to the point that evening proved fortuitous because the result was an epic sunset, certainly one of the ten best I’ve ever been in position to photograph. The light show started in the eastern sky, which is usually a sign of good things to come. By the time I was facing west, it had all come together and I ignored the mosquitoes, to the best of my ability, to take advantage of it. I had the rock-strewn beach, some fall color provided by some early-turning birches, reflections of the colorful sky off the relatively still waters of Lake Superior and the wet sand and, of course, the colorful sky itself, which was simply outstanding on this evening.

Au Sable Point at Sunset, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Even the walk in the dark back to the campground area through the mosquito-choked forest couldn’t detract from the experience.


  1. That’s some really good news about H58. I remember that road being quite challenging the last time I took it!

    • Hi Mark. I’ve now been to Pictured Rocks twice since the road was paved (fall of 2013, fall of 2020); I was up there four times in the decade prior to the upgrade. It’s a night and day difference in terms of access and the amount of time it takes to travel from spot to spot within the park.

      • That’s really good to hear. Last time I took the road was quite awhile ago and had a 4×4 – it was a slow go even with that. I have a much lower ground clearance car now and would never attempt that road (as it used to be).

        • No such problems today. You might want to take your time on the access road to, say, the Chapel area, however. None of the spur roads that lead to the interior from H-58 have been paved and some of those are still pretty awful.

  2. That is beautiful even reflecting the colours in the rocks and sand.

    • Thanks, Jane!

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