The Tahquamenon Falls were the second to last stop on our 10-day road trip across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s one of the most popular attractions in the state and as a born and raised Michigander, I had somehow never been.
We were coming off of a few days in a hotel in Marquette and it was time to get back to sleeping on the ground. We booked a site at the Rivermouth Campground. There is a campground near the Lower Falls and the Rivermouth is actually about a 20 minute drive away and close to Lake Superior.
I highly recommend the rustic sites at the Rivermouth Campground. The sites sit right on the Tahquamenon River and as a generator-free zone, you don’t have to worry about giant RVs rolling in being obnoxious.
You can get 24-hour kayak rentals from the campground office and they drop the kayaks, paddles and life jackets off at the water for you. This was our first activity after setting up camp. The wide river is fairly gentle and we paddled all the way to Lake Superior.
That night we boiled water on the campfire and had delicious ramen noodles for dinner.
The next morning, we drove to the Lower Falls parking lot and began the 4.5 mile hike to Upper Falls. It was extremely crowded around the falls but once we hit the trail we only saw a few other people.
The Lower Falls are made up of a series of smaller falls that cascade around an island in the river. You can even rent a rowboat and paddle out to it.
I’m glad we started at the Lower Falls and hiked to the Upper Falls because the Upper Falls are so majestic. It felt like reaching the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Not only are they the biggest falls in Michigan, they are the 3rd largest east of the Mississippi. They are also famous for their copper color caused by the tannin leached from cedar swamps that drain into the river.
There is a privately-operated shuttle that runs between the two falls during the summer specifically for people who hike between the falls and don’t want to turn around after the 4.5 mile hike and do it again. It’s a little pricey at $20 for two people but it was a huge time-saver. Plus, it was dog friendly even though Audi was wet and smelly from swimming in the river.
The shuttle driver told us to stop by Brown Fisheries Fish House in the town of Paradise on our way back to the Rivermouth Campground. He said their fish is fresh-caught daily and once they’re out, they’re out. The special of the day was whitefish chowder and it was to-die-for even on a hot summer day. We also ordered a whitefish sandwich that might be the best fish sandwich I’ve ever had.
As we left Tahquamenon Falls State Park to head to our final destination, we decided to take a small detour up to Whitefish Point. There isn’t much there other than the shipwreck museum and lighthouse but we had heard the Edmund Fitzgerald song so many times on the radio we felt it was necessary to stop by.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:
At 17 miles away, Whitefish Point is the nearest navigation mark to the wreckage of the ore freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in 1975. Every vessel entering or leaving Lake Superior must pass Whitefish Point. Whitefish Point remains one of the most dangerous shipping areas in the Great Lakes, Known as the graveyard of the Great Lakes, more vessels have been lost in the Whitefish Point area than any other part of Lake Superior.
Pretty interesting stuff. And giant boats are actually the theme of the next and final stop on this roadtrip. Can you guess where we went? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out!