Posted by: Kath Usitalo | March 30, 2010

Been There, Haven’t Dune That

Our view of Grand Sable Dunes

This morning’s thick fog reminded me of our trip to see the Grand Sable Dunes on Lake Superior, on the eastern edge of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Except that I know on the other side of the thick gray soup there’s a charcoal grill, not the 300-foot bank of sand against the blue waters of Gitche Gumee.

I understand there's a huge expanse of sand out there

Of course, when we arrived at the Grand Sable (say Saah-bul) “big sand” lookout we could barely make out the trees several yards beyond our perch, let alone the dunescape left behind by ancient glaciers.  We waited awhile and the fog lifted a bit, so we eventually did get a feel for the enormity of the formation.

A path and stairway get you close to Grand Sable falls

It turned out to be a good daytrip from Blue Skies. We saw the nearby Grand Sable Falls and, equipped with tips from the Agate Lady, spent some time looking for agates on the beach.

(In a post last June mentioned our trip to the village of Grand Marais, where we visited with The Agate Lady, Karen Brzys, a high school classmate who’s become an expert on the semiprecious gemstones that are found along the shores of Gitche Gumee. She’s written a new book on the subject; will keep you posted on its release or you can click on her blog to learn more about Karen, her projects, and her museum—see my blogroll to the right.)

I’d still like to see the dunes, so we’ll make another trip to Grand Marais and hope the elements cooperate. I know the view will be more rewarding than that of the grill in our backyard.

The fog lifted a bit for a view to the west; I've been told this is a great spot to watch the sunset

Did you know that Pictured Rocks was the first National Lakeshore in the National Parks System, designated in 1966? Check out the online Visitor Center information page; there are visitor centers at Grand Marais in the east and Munising at the western end.

Another Pure Michigan treasure.



  1. Did you find any Lake Superior agates?
    It’s so special to find one. Big, small whatever – they’re each a one-off from Ma Nature.
    Once you start looking for them it’s almost impossible to quit. I found a nice olive sized one on Madeline Island two years ago. It’s not prime agate territory, but I even hunt in city parking lots around here. Can’t stop. I’ll check out Karen’s book — but it will likely worsen my condition!

  2. Very beautiful photos. Haunting…

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