Visitors swarm to the rocky shoreline of Northern Michigan to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the area’s rugged and untamed landscape. Its abundance of waterfalls draws in crowds eager to witness one of Earth’s most impressive displays of natural wonder. Rich with these aquatic marvels, the Great Lake State’s Upper Peninsula is the perfect place to discover just how majestic Mother Nature can be. Take a waterfall road trip in Northern Michigan and tour these glorious wonders for yourself!
Begin your road trip toward the east end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at the largest waterfall the state has to offer. Nearly 50’ tall, Tahquamenon Falls is split into three sections and is recognizable by the tannic-tinted tea-color water that flows over 50,000 gallons per second.
Travel less than an hour-and-a-half down the shoreline to Sable Falls, located in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This 75’ multilevel waterfall is enveloped by sand dunes and is just a short walk from the beach. The quaint, charming town of Grand Marais is just one mile west.
From Sable Falls, you’ll travel an hour east to Miners Falls, also located within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. An easy .25 mile hike down a wildflower-lined trail will bring you to this incredible 40’ marvel which spills out into a spectacular sandstone outcrop.
Just a quick 15 minute drive from Miners Falls, Munising Falls offers an equally amazing sight to behold! The rock formation in which the waterfall plunges 50’ from forms a massive coliseum of natural beauty. The ice curtain that develops in the winter is pretty impressive too!
Laughing Whitefish Falls
Another hour west will bring you to one of the tallest waterfalls in Michigan, dubbed Laughing Whitefish Falls. This 100’ tall waterfall cascades down a limestone escarpment and into a ravine below. The remarkable fan-shaped stream of water that forms is a magical, must-see sight!
Black River Falls
An hour-and-a-half from Laughing Whitefish Falls you will find Black River Falls, a torrent of fast-paced water that surges through a narrow rock opening before dropping over 20’ in a violent and beautiful flood. A foot bridge provides access to a perfectly-centered viewing platform.
Less than an hour drive west from Black River Falls, a one-mile, well-maintained trail will lead you to Canyon Falls, the self-titled “Grand Canyon of the UP!” This 15’ tall waterfall is situated within a boxy black rock canyon and water is supplied by the fast-flowing Sturgeon River.
A short 30 minute drive west to Agate Falls will bring you to the middle branch of the Ontonagon River where water descends nearly 40’ from a shelf of terraced sandstone. This picturesque waterfall is framed by an old railroad bridge which stretches out through the air above.
A 15 minute drive from Agate Falls will bring you to an expansive visual display of waterworks known as Bond Falls. With a 100’ wide crest line and a 40’ drop-off, this waterfall tumbles down a broad belt of fractured rock, creating an unparalleled avalanche of gushing white water.
Gorge & Potawatomi Falls
See two waterfalls for the price of one when you drive less than an hour-and-a-half west of Bond Falls to the Black River Scenic Byway. Accessed from the same parking area, both waterfalls boast jaw dropping views of interlacing cascades and roaring white-capped rapids.
An hour north of the Black River Scenic Byway, you’ll arrive in the Porcupine Mountains State Park at Manabezho Falls, named after an Ojibway spirit god. With a 150’ crest line, this wide waterfall is one of the last drops before the Presque Isle River flows into Lake Superior.
Clearly, whoever said “don’t go chasing waterfalls” never visited Northern Michigan! Our cohesive route stretches west across the Upper Peninsula and we’ve included just a small portion of the waterfalls available for viewing in the area. Straight through, the drive time will be right around eight-and-a-half hours and you will stop at 12 different waterfalls along the route.
Have you ever toured waterfalls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? Which one was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below and share your photos too!