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Michigan – Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is home to one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi.  Although there are 50,000 acres to explore and another set of falls, most visitors go to see the mighty Upper Falls: up to 50,000 gallons of water per second falling almost 50 feet across 200 feet. And I confess, that’s exactly what we did–we went to see the highlight and skipped everything else.

Tahquamenon State Park - Upper Falls

When we arrived, we found a Fact Shack with a sign with some very helpful information, starting with how to pronounce Tahquamenon. It rhymes with “phenomenon.” We also found out the river flow that day was 3327 gallons per second. I wonder how they measure that (and manage to come up with such a precise number). The shack also had a display to help visitors tell the difference between a wolf and a coyote. Look at the difference between the size of the paw prints.

Comparing wolf and coyote paw prints

Stuffed specimens of each were also on display so you can see the physical differences.

Stuffed wolf

Stuffed coyote

So, if you meet one of these while you are walking to the falls, ask it to hold still while you pull up your pictures to compare it. Just kidding. I hope not to get very close to one of these in the wild. But if a wolf encounter sounds like fun, make sure you check out my post on Wolf Creek Habitat in Indiana. OK, on to the falls. Actually before you head toward the falls, I need to tell you that you must wear insect repellent, the most potent stuff you can find, and even with that, expect some mosquito bites. Those folks at S.C. Johnson must have had Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in mind when they created Deep Woods® Off!

You can get a nice view of the falls from a fairly level trail that is wheelchair and stroller friendly.

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Do you see the brown streak? Let’s look a little closer.

Tahquamenon Falls - Upper

Yes, the water is brown. This comes from tannic acid produced by the decay of cedar, spruce, and hemlock trees in the swamps that flow into the river. If you want to get close to the falls, continue along on the trail. A sign lets you know there are 94 steps to the brink of the falls.

Brink of Upper Tahquamenon Falls

You can really see the brown in this last picture that a kind stranger took of me and my kids.

Travel 50 States gang at Tahquamenon Falls

And that ended our first day of sightseeing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which reminds me of something else I need to point out. Be aware that the Upper Peninsula restaurant scene is very different from other parts of the country. We hardly saw any fast food and restaurants close rather early, in my opinion. It was getting late, but you can see that it was still light outside when we left Tahquamenon Falls. We tried to go to a nearby restaurant, but it had already closed for the evening. We checked into our motel and tried to order pizza from a local pizza joint, but it had closed too. Finally, we found a chain pizza restaurant that was still delivering. I wanted to get all our sightseeing in before we stopped for dinner (we’d been snacking in the car between stops), but we probably should have stopped for dinner before we went to the falls. The U.P. is up north and in the westernmost part of the eastern time zone, so in the summer, there is daylight well into the evening hours.

Of course, Tahquamenon Falls State Park offers much more than we had time to experience–hiking, boating, fishing, and camping.

Ready to visit?

Tahquamenon Falls State Park
41382 West M-123
Paradise, MI  49768
(906) 492-3415

 

This attraction appears in my e-book, How to Visit All 50 States in 12 Trips.

Disclosure: Our trip was hosted by UPTravel.com.  They paid for our lodging and attraction admission fees.  We paid for our transportation and meals.

 

4 comments to Michigan – Tahquamenon Falls State Park

  • Sean C

    Very cool!! I went here as a 5th grader…school trip. Sadly, I’m a native Michigander and I haven’t been back yet. I plan to next summer. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Sean C

    Also, it’s sad that global warming has created such an unpleasant bug situation. It was not like this in the 90s but I know for a fact that Isle Royale State Park in Lake Superior has the same problem which had only begun in the last 10-15 years. Really too bad.

  • We’ve visited these waterfalls several times over the years, including earlier this summer. I do love walking down to the platform right above the falls for a closer look, but the climb back up those stairs is a long one!
    You make a good point about the UP restaurant scene. I did a couple of capsule eatery reviews from our trip to the Munising and Les Cheneaux Islands area earlier this summer. It’s nice because most places are indie and little mom-and-pop places, but if you’re looking for late hours and fancy cuisine, you’re not likely to have a lot of luck…so it is important to plan ahead :)