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.
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.
Stuffed specimens of each were also on display so you can see the physical differences.
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.
Do you see the brown streak? Let’s look a little closer.
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.
You can really see the brown in this last picture that a kind stranger took of me and my kids.
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
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.