Tahquamenon Falls - July

May 25, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

In July 2007, on our way to a family reunion in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, we stopped at Tahquamenon Falls State Park.  (Tahquamenon rhymes with phenomenon).  It's about a 1-1/2 hour drive to the west of Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced Soo Sainte Marie).  

When you get out of your car in the parking area closest to the Upper Falls, you can hear the roar of the waterfalls. It was so exciting to walk towards the sound of rushing water!

Tahquamenon Falls - Upper FallsTahquamenon Falls - Upper FallsThis was our first full view of the Tahquamenon Upper Falls as we walked from the parking lot. The sound of the waterfall is tremendous. It was a partly cloudy but warm summer day in Upper Michigan and the height of tourist season, so there were several people at the park on the day we visited.  The walkways are wide and paved and it's an easy walk. I've since heard that they provide a few wheelchairs on a first-come-first-serve basis. Tahquamenon Falls - Upper Falls (scenic)Tahquamenon Falls - Upper Falls (scenic)The Tahquamenon Falls are on the Tahquamenon River. The river is a blackwater river that is just over 89 miles long and empties into Whitefish Bay and Lake Superior. There are several viewing areas along the path, but to get to the brink, you have to take the stairs (94 steps). 94 Steps to the Brink94 Steps to the BrinkI can't recall if there are any benches on the landings between the flights of stairs down to the brink. But there are benches to rest and relax at both the top and bottom of the stairs. If you can manage the stairs, the sights and sounds are breathtaking! The observation platform is large and can accommodate many people. The Top of the Upper Tahquamenon FallsThe Top of the Upper Tahquamenon FallsIt has always amazed me to see so much water falling 50 feet when it appears like very little water at the edge! The typical flow is around 3,000 gallons per second.
In this photograph, I am at the brink of the falls. It's 94 steps down from the path.
I've visited Tahquamenon Falls many times, and it's always amazed me to look at the water on top of the falls, just before it falls over the edge - it hardly looks like any water at all!  The illusion is enhanced by the presence of the sea gull on the dry area in the middle of the falls.  I'm sure this looks very different during the spring runoff when all the snow is melting and flowing into the Tahquamenon River.  The Root Beer FallsThe Root Beer FallsAnother name for Tahquamenon Falls. The brown color in the water is because of tannin in the water (organic material from the cedar swamps that the River drains).

In this close up, you can really see the volume of water. The brown color in the water is tannin - it's from the cedar swamps.  We learned in school that the Tahquamenon River is a blackwater river; it flows through forest wetlands and swamps.  Tahquamenon Falls has the nickname "Root Beer Falls" because of the brown tannin in the water.

View to Tahquamenon's Lower FallsView to Tahquamenon's Lower FallsThe Lower Falls consist of five smaller falls that cascade around an island. The Lower Falls are about 4 miles downstream and to the East of the Upper Falls on the Tahquamenon River.

You can either walk or drive the 4 miles to the Lower Falls that are downstream of the Upper Falls.  If you have the time, you can rent a rowboat to paddle around the river basin and to get a little closer look at the Lower Falls.

Tanin in the Tahquamenon Lower FallsTanin in the Tahquamenon Lower FallsYou can really see the tanin in the water of the Tahquamenon Lower Falls.

If you're ever in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, it is well worth the time to make a side trip to Tahquamenon Falls State Park! To see the rest of the Tahquamenon Falls photographs in my Waterfalls gallery, please click here


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