Commonly Asked Questions about service in Pictured Rocks
Q. Why don’t you start before May? Run after mid-October?
A. One word: SNOW.
2019 Season will start May 1 or when the snow pack allows foot travel, whichever comes second.
Winter starts in earnest most years mid-October. We had measurable snow on October 12, 2018 last season.
Current Snow Situation in the US
Interactive Map showing snow depth in the UP
(Make sure to change the date to TODAY and then click “refresh map”)
Pictured Rocks Winter Road Closures map
Q. Do you pick up at __(fill in blank)___ Trailhead?
A. Yes, we pick up & drop off at Chapel Parking Lot. The only trailhead we do not pick up at is Beaver Basin Overlook. We also do not pick up at the Interagency Visitor Center, which isn’t even in the park. Please, know your visitor centers, as, there are several in the area! Do not park at the Interagency. Don’t even go there. Go to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore visitor centers, either 1)Munising Falls Visitor Center, or, 2) Grand Sable Visitor Center near Grand Marais.
Q. Is it safe to park my car at the trailhead?
A. All parking lots where overnight parking is allowed is monitored by National Park staff. I do not have statistics nor can I guarantee that there won’t be problems. However, this is the Upper Peninsula and the shenanigans you are worried about are few and far between.
Q. Can I sleep in my car?
A. For the love of Pete, please don’t sleep in your car at one of the trailheads. In fact, support the local economy by staying at a hotel, or even better, we offer lodging for $10 a person. Trust me, that will be cheaper than a ticket. Refer the previous question about the lots being monitored!
Q. Why do your prices go up if I make an reservation less than two weeks out?
A. Simple economics, really. We base our staffing, vehicles, and equipment based on advance reservations. With advance reservations, we can coordinate those three factors to offer those who do plan in advance a great rate. By making arrangements less than two weeks, two days, or two hours before you need them, you increase our costs and those costs are passed on to you. Leave No Trace Principle #1 is “Plan and Prepare”. If you do so, you’ll be afforded a lower rate.
Q. I don’t want your book. I don’t want any frills, can’t I just get a ride?
A. If all you need is a ride, you are welcome to use our heavily subsidized, tax supported competitor, Alger County Transit. Don’t be surprised if they cannot answer your questions (in fact, they frequently tell you to call us!). If you do use Altran, don’t expect us to help you with a rescue, advice, etc. I’m not in the business to help my competitor. You get what you pay for. Read this for the gory details of the differences between what they offer and what we offer.
Q. How does this LYFT thing work?
A. We are an authorized LYFT business partner and use their platform to arrange rides. You tell us when & where to pick you up, we will arrange for a LYFT driver to meet you at the trailhead. You will pay LYFT fees plus brokerage fees. You may find this is less expensive that using our regularly scheduled shuttle. However, we guarantee our shuttle, we cannot guarantee that we will find you a LYFT. The more notice you give us, the more likely we can arrange a ride. AND, you’ll receive the full benefit of being a Trailspotters customer!
Q. Why do I need you? I can just order up a LYFT myself.
A. Good luck with that. As far as I am aware, all the LYFT drivers in the area work for Trailspotters. If you can get a LYFT, great! But, keep in mind, we offer no support for your trip nor are obligated to help you if you get into a pickle.
Q. You used to offer YOOPER OOPER, an Uber type service. I just rolled into town an need a ride RIGHT NOW. Can you help?
A. Due to changes in Michigan Law, our company vehicles can only operate on fixed routes at fixed times. Your first option it to conform to our schedule. If you cannot, we will attempt to arrange a LYFT, but, unless I have a LYFT driver who has agreed to be “on call”, it is unlikely. Our suggestion is to schedule a ride to be shuttled back to your car AFTER your hike. Or better yet, plan ahead. If you do schedule a shuttle for after your hike, please pack some Frebreze.
Q. What is this “hiker hostel”?
A. We own rental properties, we have a 2BR house, a 3BR apartment, and a tented camp. The tented camp you will have access to hot water showers, flush toilet, and running water. It is getting pretty old for us looking for hikers sleeping in their cars at trailheads. So, we offer this dirt-cheap lodging so you can get a good night’s sleep and we know where to find you in the morning. If you combine a shuttle with lodging, we will give you a discount.
Q. How does your trip insurance work?
A. You purchase a trip insurance policy that covers medical evacuation, trip interruption, and/or trip cancellation. If you need to cancel your reservation, trip cancellation covers your non-refundable fees paid to Trailspotters (and other vendors you’ve paid in advance). Trip interruption covers your cost for us to rescue you from the trail, and, other associated costs if your trip is interrupted due to a family emergency, injury, illness, etc. Medical evacuation insurance covers medical and/or evacuation costs in the case of a serious medical emergency. Trailspotters takes the position that trip insurance exists, and repsonsible travellers take out appropriate policies. Trailspotters should not be put at financial risk due to acts, ommissions, cancellations, and injuries on your part. Our fees are high due to the nature of having to appropriate staff, vehicles, and equipment at a moment’s notice for rescues, and, cancellations are unfair to those customers that were turned away because you filled a spot in one of our programs/services.
Q. Didn’t you offer free rescues?
A. We no longer offer across the board free rescues. However, the way it works is if you are a 1) current Trailspotters customer and 2) DO NOT have insurance, you can catch an already running shuttle. Otherwise, you will be billed the current rescue rate. Take out a trip interruption policy!
Q. I have questions about bears, trail conditions, campsite options, permits, where to eat, etc. Can we chat before I make a reservation?
A. Yes, but, please understand A LOT of Altran customers call us and pry us for information. We prefer that you purchase a book and then, even if you do use Altran, I’ll still help you plan your trip.
We are a private company that receives no tax support. In fact, the taxes we pay support our competitor.
We appreciate you supporting a local, tax paying business.
We support our local trail community & North Country Trail