Videos

Paddle Turnip Rock – Five Things to Know


Turnip Rock is an Easy Paddle

One of the most amazing sites in the Upper Thumb is Turnip Rock. Carved over time by the force of constant wave action the soft limestone has been shaped to its namesake and separated from the mainland over thousands of years. CNN called it one of the Most Amazing Rock Formations in America and Pure Michigan featured it on it’s 2016 magazine cover. International travelers coming into Detroit Metropolitan Airport see Turnip Rock as their first view of Michigan’s wonder scenes coming into customs. It’s a marvel to behold and it’s an easy trip if the conditions are right.

This small guide offers a local point of view to avoid problems with the local law enforcement and property owners while being able to enjoy a unique natural wonder.


Paddle to Turnip Rock Port Austin Michigan


Turnip Rock is on Private Land

Despite its uniqueness as a natural wonder is located and surrounded by private land. Thus the only way to access it is from the water. Fortunately that can easily be achieved by canoe or kayak. This means that you can’t go feet dry. Stay in the water. If you must get out of our kayak stay as close to waters edge as possible. (Unless its an emergency)



Paddling  Near the Rock on Busy Weekends

During the weekends the number of paddlers can get quite large. If the area around the rock is crowded consider paddling a few hundred yards past and view the overhangs and cave features that border the Pointe Aux Barques community.  During the late 1800’s the cave were hideouts for fugitives. It’s worth taking a few minutes to explore.  You may be tempted to get out of your kayak and climb the rocks for a view. This is a no-no and there are several signs reminding not to trespass. (IMHO these signs are obtrusive, and possibly illegal as they are posted under the high water mark of Lake Huron)


Pointe Aux Barques Caves


Heed Weather and Travel Time

Plan on 2-3 hours total travel time to Turnip Rock from Port Austin. This assumes that the winds and lake are calm. You will paddle north-east along the shallow coastline until you see the small cliffs that mark the start of Pointe Aux Barques. If the wind is strong and the there are waves it’s a wise idea to defer to another day. Novice paddlers have been pushed by southern winds out into the lake requiring assistance or rescue.



Can I Climb on Turnip and Fingernail Rocks?

Despite numerous YouTube and other postings showing people climbing all over the rock formation, you are urged to not imbibe. The shore formations above the high water mark is private land. People have been hurt trying to climb it and arrested for trespass. Also the limestone is rather fragile and prone to breakage and collapse. The best way to mark your visit is to capture the rock formation with digital photos of you and your peeps in unique light and weather. Stay wet and wild and get a great shot from the water.   


Turnip Rock what to Bring


What to Bring on Board

Life jacket, Sunglasses, sunscreen, small towel, cell phone and a dry bag. Bring water and something to munch on. Water shoes are also highly recommended. It’s not a strenuous trip but winds and weather can make it a challenge for the unprepared.



Leave No Trace

Leaving no trace is everyone’s responsibility. While paddling to the rock remember to minimize your impact so it can be enjoyed for the next generation. Here are the seven principles of Leave No Trace.

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare. …
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. …
  • Dispose of Waste Properly (Pack It In, Pack It Out) …
  • Leave What You Find. …
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts. …
  • Respect Wildlife. …
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors.

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How to Survive Falling Though Ice


There have been two deaths and one rescue on the Saginaw Bay ice in the Upper Thumb these past several weeks. We found a short video that describes the steps to survive an ice break though even if you can’t get yourself out of the water. It’s a fight for survival and one only has minutes before hypothermia, unconsciousness and death.



Ice Safety Guidelines

The Minnesota DNR provides the following guidelines.

For new, clear ice only

  • Under 4″ – STAY OFF
  • 4″ – Ice fishing or other activities on foot
  • 5″ – 7″ – Snowmobile or ATV
  • 8″ – 12″ – Car or small pickup
  • 12″ – 15″ – Medium truck

Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe. Currents from nearby rivers or debris in the ice can create thin areas.White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.


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Three Michigan Movies to Stream


For a short time Michigan gave tax credits to film makers to entice productions to locate here. Those days are long gone. However the films that were produced gives us the opportunity to see recognizable locations in our own backyard. We noted that in 2011 Sean Penn chose the Thumb to be a location for the film This Must be the Place. Here are three more notables among 140 films that located sets in Michigan for all or part of production.   


Continental Divide – This 1981 film starring John Belushi and Blair Brown is cast in Chicago. However, one memorable scene takes place at a train station in Niles Michigan. The historic Michigan Central Railroad station was built in 1892 of brownstone. The depot is still in operation by Amtrak. The depot appeared in other movies such as Midnight Run, and Only the Lonely.


Into the Storm – Filmed in 2014, this disaster film was shot in several Michigan locations including Pontiac and on the campus of nearby Oakland University. The school shots were filmed at the Oakview Middle School in Oakland Township. The film starred Richard Armitage and Sarah Wayne Callies.


Red Dawn – This 2012 remake was shot in Detroit, Harper Woods and Mt. Clemens. The closed Notre Dame High School was a primary filming location and its cafeteria was the catering hall for the cast. The film starred Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson. While not credited, the shot below from the trailer was taken in Pontiac.

Red Dawn

Media from YouTube

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Great Getaways in Michigan’s Upper Thumb


This 15 minute video is a great review of some of the highlights of Michigan’s Thumb.  With 150 miles of shoreline the contrast between the rocky, rugged Lake Huron side is toured to the sugar sand and calm waters of Saginaw Bay. The thumb region is a great area to explore.

This video is from Great Getaways, a television travel series that spotlights active getaway adventures across the Midwest and Canada with an emphasis on the outdoors.


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