Two Peninsulas

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Castle Rock

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Castle Rock is not a destination in and of itself, but it is a fun place to stop if you’re on your way someplace else.  Castle Rock is just what it sounds like - a rock.  A big rock.  The Ojibway Indians used to use it as a lookout point, but now there is a staircase that allows you to climb and see the view from the top.  Castle Rock is located just over the Mackinac Bridge in St. Ignace.

It’s $0.50 per person to climb Castle Rock, and you pay inside the large souvenir shop at its base.  Once you fork over your admission, you can exit through the back of the store, where a statue of Paul Bunyan with Babe the Blue Ox wait to greet you.  Go ahead and snap a picture with the giant duo, but there is a big chain link fence surrounding them so you can’t climb up and get that personal contact.

Climbing Castle Rock is a bit of a challenge, even if you’re physically fit.  There are 171 stairs, starting at ground level until you reach the final ramp at the top.  The stairs, while not crumbling or otherwise falling apart, can be unevenly spaced.  Some are steeper than others, but the staircase as a whole is relatively steep.  Also, many of the stairs tilt toward the right or left.  I don’t recommend trying to dash up the steps unless you are pretty surefooted.  There are several places to stop and rest on the way.  The first stop is only 20 steps up, and is the platform that holds the Paul Bunyan statue.  The second place is roughly halfway, or 80 steps from the top.  The final rest is 33 steps from the ramp that leads out onto the rock itself.

The view from the top had an interesting effect on me and Lucas.  Neither one of us are afraid of heights, but both of us experienced a sense of vertigo and shakiness.  We had to force ourselves to get close to the edges and look over.  There is, of course, a sturdy fence all the way around, so there is no danger of falling, but it is a sheer drop.  There are binoculars at the top that you can use for a fee - bring quarters if you plan on taking advantage of them.

After you make your descent, be sure to stop at the cash register in the souvenir shop to claim your complimentary “I climbed Castle Rock” sticker.  The shop itself contains the usual gifts found in the U.P. gift shops - t-shirts, coffee mugs, cedar boxes and plaques, and small toys for children (usually bows and arrows and coonskin caps).

Our stop at Castle Rock and the attached shop lasted about 45 minutes, but it would be easy for families with smaller children to take much longer to climb, or much longer to shop.  Plan on an hour stop, minimum, if you choose to visit.

The Essentials

Castle Rock
(exit 348 from I-75 takes you right there)
PO Box 185
St. Ignace, MI 49781
906-643-8268 (print this page to climb for half price)

Hours: 8:30 AM - 9:30 PM.  Probably will not allow you to climb after dark, as there are no lights on the stairs.

Seasonal: Yes - open early May through mid-October.

Kid Friendly:  Yes

Handicap Accessible:  The store is, the rock is not.

Written by Rebecca

September 14th, 2008 at 9:20 am