This Spring and Summer, take some time for a road trip to explore the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. There is so much to see in what I call Mother Nature’s Playground, and some of my favorites are the waterfalls. If you like chasing waterfalls, these ten waterfalls are some of the must-sees waterfalls on an epic road trip through the U.P.
Tahquamenon Upper Falls
Located in the Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Tahquamenon Upper Falls is the largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River (beside Niagara Falls) at a 50 feet drop and 200 feet wide with more than 50,000 gallons of water per second flowing over. There is a pathway to the falls with stairs and a platform for you to stand in the mist coming off this gorgeous waterfall.
Tahquamenon Lower Falls
Four miles downstream is the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island. The waterfalls can be viewed from the river bank or the island, which can be reached by rowboat. The island view is worth the ride over, and you’ll be able to view the falls in the south channel as well.
Sable Falls is a waterfall located on Sable Creek in the easternmost portion of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Alger County by the Ausable Lighthouse. The waterfall tumbles 75 feet over sandstone formations. You can view the falls from the bottom of the long staircase.
Agate Falls is located on the middle branch of the Ontonagon River off of M-28 in the Ottawa National Forest. The waterfall is 39-foot-high with views from the path along the river. Get to the path from the right off the boardwalk.
Bond Falls is located on the middle branch of the Ontonagon River in Paulding. You’ll need to buy a parking pass to view the falls. The falls tumble over a thick belt of fractured rock, dividing it into numerous small cascades over a 50 feet drop. There is an accessible boardwalk with six viewing locations, but the best view is right at the bottom. The waterfalls are also accessible from the top by a trail that travels upward toward the dam.
Canyon Falls are easy to reach from a roadside park on US 41. First, you will hike through a cedar swamp on a boardwalk to the rapids of the Sturgeon River. Then, you walk through nature to see the gorge, small waterfalls, and the impressive waterfall considered the “Grand Canyon of the UP.” The Sturgeon River flows 30' down over a large chute of smooth black rock into a box canyon.
Within the Porcupine Mountains and on the Black River Scenic Byway, which stretches 11 miles along the Black River Harbor in the Ottawa National Forest, you will find five main waterfalls, as well as some minor ones. The five main waterfalls are all located on the last three miles of the river before it reaches Lake Superior. To view the waterfalls, you’ll have to pay a $5/day parking pass per vehicle.
Great Conglomerate Falls
The southernmost waterfall is the 20-foot Great Conglomerate Falls, named for the large slab of brown conglomerate rock that splits the waterfall into two cascades. There is a 3/4-mile hike from the parking lot on the byway to view the waterfalls.
Potawatomi Falls is the easiest waterfall to access. There is a 600-foot accessible paved trail leading from the parking lot to an overlook above the wide 30-foot cascade. Gorge Falls is also viewable from this trail, with a 1/4 mile walk between them.
A half-mile beyond Gorge Falls is Sandstone Falls which has a 15-feet drop. Sandstone is the smallest of the five waterfalls, but the cool thing is that you can climb right up next to it on the river's banks. However, be careful as the rocks can be slippery especially in the rain.
Another half mile beyond Sandstone Falls is Rainbow Falls. The best views of Rainbow Falls are from the North Country Trail. This waterfall has a 30-foot drop and is the only fall accessible from both sides of the river. A short trail and a lengthy number of stairs will take you down to a viewing platform which dumps you out almost directly on top of the falls.