Tahquamenon Falls State Park: Home to Michigan’s Largest Waterfall

If you’re exploring waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula, visiting Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a MUST! It’s a mouthful to say, but a jaw-dropping site to see in all four seasons.

Photo credit: camh_30

This state park located in Paradise can also be accessed from Newberry and is gorgeous year-round. The gushing Upper Falls, Michigan’s largest waterfall, is about 200 feet across with a nearly 50-foot drop into the Tahquamenon River. Each second you spend at the viewing platform, more than 50,000 gallons of water are flowing right before your eyes. No trip to the U.P. is complete without a photo in front of this iconic landmark. Say cheese!

Downriver four miles, five smaller, tranquil waterfalls cascade around a small island, creating the Lower Falls. If you’re feeling up to an adventure, rent a rowboat from the park concession, then make your way to the island for a view of the south channel. Get your feet wet, literally, while playing in the falls.

Nicknamed by locals as “Root Beer Falls,” Tahquamenon Falls get their unique brown coloring from tannins that leach in the swamp at the head of the Tahquamenon River. When it comes crashing down the waterfall, the white, frothy result looks like root beer.

For hikers or those on Upper Peninsula road trips, get your legs moving! There are hiking trails along the four-mile trek between the Upper and Lower Falls. Beyond that, the state park has over 35 miles of trails, which enable people to see beautiful portions of the park that are less visited. The North Country Trail travels 16 miles within the park, including the trail between the Upper and Lower Falls.

Photo credit: Gary Balduc

Humans aren’t the only ones visiting the park. You can spot wolves, otters, coyotes, deer, porcupine, beavers, bears, mink, 125 species of nesting birds and more. Moose are occasionally seen feeding in the wet areas of the park, especially along M-123 between Paradise and the Lower Falls. The abundant birdlife includes spruce grouse, pileated woodpecker, bald eagle and a variety of waterfowl and songbirds.

Beyond the falls, this 48,000-acre park has many other places for you to explore and experience. The park has 13 inland lakes, 24 miles of the Tahquamenon River and approximately 20,000 acres of natural area, too. Make sure to go off the beaten path!

Hiking, fishing, canoeing and photography are popular activities in the spring and summer. Anglers will enjoy this list of Tahquamenon’s best fishing spots. In fall, many people enjoy hunting and viewing the beautiful autumn colors. Winter brings snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the miles of marked trails.

Photo credit: Aubrieta Hope

Tahquamenon State Park also has a track chair available at no cost on a first-come, first-served basis. The chair can be reserved in advance. It’ll give you access to areas of the park that a traditional wheelchair might not be able to handle. The falls are beautiful, but experiencing them and making memories together as a group of friends or family is even more so. Another option to elevate the memory-making is booking a Tahquamenon Falls Train and Riverboat Tour for a guided wilderness exploration.

Lastly, stop by the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub  to indulge in micro-brewed beers, burgers, fish, pasties, Sinful Seven Chocolate Cake and other foods. Be sure to ask about seasonal desserts, too!

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and you’ll need a current Michigan Recreational Passport to enter. 

Explore Tahquamenon Falls State Park year-round to experience the sound, colors and tranquility of both falls in all seasons. Book a nearby hotel stay. The falls may not be made of root beer, but you are guaranteed to have a sweet time!

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