Lake Superior Perfection: Top 10 Pukaskwa Views

01 November, 2021 4 comments Leave a comment

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen RichardsonThis past August, as my husband and I explored the north shore of Lake Superior with our travel trailer in tow, we had the immense good fortune to obtain a serviced camping site for a week in a most amazing place that very few people have heard about: Pukaskwa National Park.

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson Over the years, we had seen the sign for the turnoff to this Park on Hwy 17 between Wawa and Marathon and finally dropped in for a few hours in the summer of 2020, to check out the camping facilities.

We were so impressed by that short glimpse of the Park that we made plans to camp there this year.

Pukaskwa (pronounced PUCK-a-saw) has been a National Park for over 40 years and covers an area of 1,878 square kilometres (725 sq mi), protecting part of the longest undeveloped shoreline anywhere on the Great Lakes.

There are four large natural sand driftwood beaches in the Park, three of which are pictured here. (That is my husband John walking on a typically uncrowded beach.)

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

Our stay coincided with a week of hot, dry weather due to a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico pushing a warm front up our way.

Even though summer high temperatures along the shore usually max out at 15 C (59 F), we enjoyed a whole week of daytime highs of 24 C (75 F) and mild nights. There were no mosquitoes or black flies, but lots of birds and butterflies.

It was a glorious week; we swam, strolled the beaches, went for hikes, paddled in our kayaks, ate alfresco meals at our campsite, and generally enjoyed being out in nature in perfect conditions.

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

There were four easy to moderate hiking trails surrounding the campground, all less than 4 km (2.5 miles) in length. A few of them took us high above the lake to viewpoints that offered stunning vistas such as those shown here. The trails were so awe-inspiring that we hiked them more than once.

The water is very clear, and the white sand bottom gives the water a turquoise appearance similar to Caribbean or Mediterranean waters. But the wonderful thing is, Lake Superior holds fresh water, not salt, so there was nothing to bite, sting, or eat us while we swam!

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

This lake is so vast, you think you are looking at the ocean when there is only water as far as you can see. It is the largest body of fresh water on earth, with a surface area of over 82,000 square km (31,660 square miles), and over 4,000 km (2,500 miles) of shoreline.

Karen Richardson at Pukaskwa National Park

We spent a lovely afternoon in our kayaks exploring the protected bay of Hattie Cove. (Our kayaks are too short to withstand the waves out past the islands.)

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

These photos show us with massive rock cliffs in the background. The bay was shallow and featured many interesting islands of varying sizes and shapes.

There is something about islands, even tiny ones, that always captures my attention. I'm certain the ones shown in this post will be featured in my paintings some day. 

Speaking of paintings, I wrote an article about my first six paintings inspired by Pukaskwa. Check out New Works: Nights on Fire.

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

To sum up our week-long experience, I think the Park pamphlet says it best:

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

"Pukaskwa National Park is a vast, wild, natural playground found on the edge of the world's largest freshwater lake. It's a place where powerful waves collide with rugged, towering coastlines; a place of endless sunsets over sandy driftwood beaches...A place where Lake Superior's untouched beauty can be seen, experienced and remembered by all who visit."

I agree wholeheartedly.

As in all National Parks, Pukaskwa has a pair of those iconic red Muskoka chairs installed, overlooking picturesque Pulpwood Harbour. What a lovely spot this was to rest after a day spent clambering over these magnificent rocks. 

I have a treasure trove of photos from our time in Pukaskwa, ready to inspire more new paintings. Stay tuned!

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  1. Diann November 09, 2021

    We camped there for a week in September several years ago and I lost my heart to the beautiful area. We canoed Hattie Cove and ventured out into Lake Superior until the water was too rough.

    We hiked the trails and the variety of mushrooms was incredible. The swinging bridge added a bit of spice to the hike.

    We ate supper early every evening to follow the trail to the big boulders along the shore. We watched the sun set and stayed for the afterglow. Beautiful! But that also meant a dash back to the campground before dark! Take a flashlight in case you stay too long.

  2. Mary Ellen M Gerster November 05, 2021

    The colours of the water are incredible! Fantastic pictures of an obviously wonderful holiday!!

  3. Steve Nash November 05, 2021

    Pukaskwa national park is so incredibly beautiful fills my heart and soul with such peace. I will be returning next year again. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures.

  4. Richard Gauder November 04, 2021

    One of these days we’ll have to visit this incredible spot! So glad you didn’t get bit, stung, or get eaten! lol