MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Waterfalls

Waterfalls of northern Wisconsin

Roaring cascades are remnants of the last Ice Age.

Deep in the forests of Wisconsin, and Potato River Falls was nowhere to be found.

A sign pointed to an observation deck, from which I glimpsed a bridal-veil falls in the distance. But the path down the Potato River led only to a cobblestone beach.

Finally, I left the path to climb down a steep hillside, slippery with clay and choked with the roots of spruce trees that flecked my hands with sap.

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Tales of Tahquamenon

On Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a big state park is a playground for waterfall-lovers.

At most waterfalls, people mainly sit, look and take pictures.

Not at Tahquamenon Falls.

Here, people duck under the falls, wade through them, row out to them and hike between them on a five-mile riverside path that's part of the North Country National Scenic Trail.

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Waterfalls of the North Shore

When snow melts along Lake Superior, hear them roar.

Up north, all of the snow that brought you great skiing just keeps on giving when spring arrives.

That's when it turns into waterfalls, roaring down river gorges and misting awed onlookers.

One of the easiest places to see lots of big waterfalls is along Minnesota's North Shore, where dozens of rivers roar down into Lake Superior. Where there's water, there's a waterfall.

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Waterfalls of the Black River

On Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a series of cascades tumble down to Lake Superior.

On the western tip of the Upper Peninsula, snow comes as regularly as mail.

Gusts of wind make the deliveries, picking up moisture and warmth over Lake Superior and then dumping it as snow when they hit the cold inland air around Ironwood and Bessemer.

The two ski towns are just 4½ hours from the Twin Cities, the closest metropolitan area, but they look more like the North Pole in comparison. Snow comes early, piles high and stays late, into April.

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Gooseberries on ice

In winter, the beloved North Shore waterfalls turn into a big, frozen playground.

There's one spot along the North Shore at which everyone has to stop.

Its five falls tumble over lumpy floes of ancient lava, filling the air with mist and tumult. 

Intriguing crannies, created by jagged walls of rock and twisted cedars, turn adults into compulsive shutterbugs and bring out the Indiana Jones in children, who clamber from one precipice to another.

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Waterfalls of northeast Wisconsin

Wild rivers and cascades reward those who explore the remote forests around Marinette.

In a remote corner of Wisconsin, a trove of waterfalls lies buried in forests barely trod since the lumberjacks moved on to Minnesota.

They’re not Wisconsin’s largest waterfalls, or the easiest to find; those can be found on the lower lip of Lake Superior, in Pattison, Amnicon and Copper Falls state parks (see Waterfalls of northern Wisconsin).

But there are lots of them in this undomesticated forest, so thick with headwaters it’s known as the cradle of rivers.

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