When I first heard about the Big Spring at Palms Book State Park, I was fascinated and knew I just had to go see it. And, except for the mosquitoes (bring your insect repellent–you’ve been warned!), I was not disappointed. This place is amazing and is the perfect attraction to conclude my series on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Words alone don’t suffice in explaining it, so you’ll have to see it to believe it. Kitch-iti-kipi is Michigan’s largest freshwater spring and is located within Palms Book State Park. The spring is two hundred feet across and 40 feet deep and the color is incredible. The name “Kitch-iti-Kipi” comes from a fictitious Indian legend about the spring that was made up to attract visitors. Others call it, simply, “The Big Spring.”
If the spring itself isn’t fascinating enough, the way that you view it is a unique attraction in itself. You cross the spring in a self-propelled structure that the park calls a raft. It looks more like a moving dock to me.
Are you concerned because you’ve never captained a moving dock before? Neither had we. There’s no need to worry, because there are instructions.
Once you are aboard the raft with the gate closed, you turn a giant wheel that moves the raft slowly along a cable that spans the spring.
Here you can see the departure dock.
And here’s the view to the opposite side of the spring. You can go all the way across.
You may have noticed that the raft has a roof over it. It is there to provide necessary shade so that you can see what’s in the water, rather than the reflection of the surrounding trees.
The middle of the raft is open to the water. There is no glass, yet you can see very clearly. You’ll see trout swimming around and water gushing from the fissures 40 feet below the surface.
And even pictures don’t suffice when it comes to describing the mesmerizing swirls of water and sediment at the bottom.
Adults and older children can look over the railing into the water, but what about little ones? I was very glad to see the raft was designed to be child-friendly with a clear window that kids can look through.
This is likely also a safety feature. The water is 45° F, year round. That is COLD. Although there is a life-preserver on board, you don’t want to take any risks here. There are instructions on what to do if someone falls in and they also discuss the procedure for recovering bodies. Keep that in mind before you lift up your kids for a view.
Palms Book State Park also offers concession stand (which wasn’t open when we visited late in the day), a picnic area, restrooms, and a swing set.
It doesn’t take long to view the spring and, in my opinion, this is a must-see in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Ready to visit?
Palms Book State Park
Located at the northern terminus of state highway M-149, a 15-minute drive north of US-2 at Thompson
Michigan Residents – Recreation Passport ($10 annual fee) is required
Non-residents – Motor Vehicle Permit required ($8 daily or $29 annual)
We had already purchased a Motor Vehicle Permit at Fayette Historic Park, so we didn’t have to pay anything.
This attraction appears in my e-book, How to Visit All 50 States in 12 Trips.