Michigan's Upper Peninsula | Chasing Waterfalls

Michigan's Upper Peninsula | Chasing Waterfalls

I have often heard of the Upper Peninsula referred to as God's Country, and wow, it certainly does live up to its nickname. In a whirlwind of strange events, Gregory and I upgraded our tow vehicle just 2 days before taking the trek up and over the Mighty Mac to Tahquamenon Falls in Paradise, MI. Good thing, too. We traveled in high winds the entire way there, including a high wind alert going over the Mackinac Bridge. You can tell from this photo that it was pretty gloomy out! 

Mackinac bridge

Regarding the new truck- some back story is necessary here. When we started looking for an Airstream a year ago, we knew we would need a new tow vehicle to accommodate our large family and all of our stuff (bikes, kayaks, dog, etc.) We landed on an F150 that was good for daily driving, but was also equipped with the towing capacity and payload we needed for the 25' Airstream we ended up with. Just a couple months in, and one windy trip to Grand Haven (make sure to read our blog on that, too!) we decided it was time for a upgraded truck. Let me back-step a bit there -- you should know that "we "meant me (Lauren). It was a windy trip to Grand Haven and I tell you what, feeling the F150 be pushed around on the highway was NOT for me. Nope, nope, nope. 

We were at the dealership the very next day. As the saying goes, the rest is history, and now we have a Diesel GMC Sierra HD Denali that does the job quite well. 

Our drive was about 4 hours up, and the new truck handled it like a champ. The kids fit 3 across in the back bench, and our dog laid on the floor beneath their feet. We stayed at The Rivermouth Campground, which is part of Tahquamenon Falls State Park.  The sites themselves were large, wooded, and quite breathtaking. There are plenty of hiking trails around the campground, which is a stone's throw from Lake Superior. Our site was only about 8 sites down from the river, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the stunning sunsets cast over the root beer river (more on that in a bit). It is great for kayaking as well.

Here are a couple of shots of the sunsets we took during our time there (on an iPhone, unedited.) 


Everyone needs to take the time to visit the upper peninsula of Michigan at least once in their lifetime. Tahquamenon Falls is really magnificent. It was a bit of a hike from the campground we stayed at to the actual falls themselves (about a 22 minute drive) but it was quiet, and the natural beauty was second to none). There is a Lower Falls campground as part of the state park as well, which gets good reviews. One thing to note is that the mosquitos in the UP can be pretty brutal. We were fortunate that we had planned ahead and took 2 Thermacells and our screen tent with us. They likely saved us from being eaten alive. If you plan to take a Thermacell with you camping, don't forget to stock up on extra refills, as they only last around 10 hours each.  

What could have been a disaster of a trip being eaten alive by mosquitos, was luckily averted by some pre-planning. We left after 3 days with just 3-4 bites each (and those suckers were SWARMING everywhere else around us). I have read that traveling to the UP is better later in the season-- late June, early July or later, as the mosquitos aren't nearly as bad. We did not find that the mosquitos detracted from our trip, however. It was an amazing place, and I am looking forward to going back. 

We chose to visit the upper falls and the lower falls on separate days, however doing it over again, I would visit both in one day. Plan to spend about 45 minutes to an hour just to walk to and from each fall. You can choose to do a 4 mile hike (one way) from the upper to the lower falls as well. This is something we did not do, though in the right conditions, I would love to. 

The walk to the upper and lower falls is short, flat and easily accessible. There is a 96 step walk down if you want to get closer to the falls (as shown above). Our favorite between the two were the lower falls, although both are equally worth visiting. The walk through the woods and on boardwalks is beautiful, peaceful, and less crowded at the lower falls. 
Look at that crazy looking root beer colored water! It is really fascinating to see up close (pictured below, an image from the rivermouth campground. The water isn't muddy or murky, but perfectly translucent and clean looking. The water gets its colors from tannins leached from pine trees at the swampy beginning of the river. I could truly go on and on about the natural beauty we were fortunate to witness, but this is definitely one place where photos don't do justice, and you have to see it for yourself.
Overall, Tahquamenon Falls State Park receives a 4.5/5 stars from our family. One small deduction for the peskiness of the mosquitos, but with better planning and visiting a different time of the year, this could easily be a 5/5 experience. Make sure to adjust your expectations for weather. The UP can get quite chilly in the evenings. Bring lots of bug spray, take lots of photos, and breathe in the unique beauty that Michigan's Upper Peninsula delivers. You might even get lucky and see the northern lights. Happy camping! 
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