Beautiful Tahquamenon Falls State Park, located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is a 46,179-acre state park that will take your breath away. It is the second largest of Michigan’s state parks (the largest is the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, also in the U.P.). Bordering on Lake Superior, most of the park is located within Whitefish Township in Chippewa County. The western section of the park extends into McMillan Township in Luce County. The nearest town of any size is Paradise, Michigan, where you can find blueberries and cranberries growing all around when in season.
Tahquamenon Falls is an easy drive along M-12. The highway offers a loop from Highway M-28 through Paradise, past Tahquamenon Falls State Park, through Newberry, and back to M-28. Tahquamenon Falls State Park winds along the Tahquamenon River as it passes over Tahquamenon Falls and drains into Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior.
The majestic Tahquamenon Falls includes two main water attractions: a single 50-foot drop known as the Upper Falls, and the cascades and rapids that have been named the Lower Falls. During the late spring season, the river drains as much as 50,000 gallons of water per second! This makes the Upper Falls the second largest vertical waterfall east of the Mississippi River (second only to Niagara Falls!). While visually stunning and awe-inspiring, the Tahquamenon River and Falls also hold a rich part of the area’s history. The Tahquamenon River was made famous in the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow titled “Hiawatha.” He loved the area and wrote many short stories and poems about its beauty. According to Indian lore, the name Tahquamenon comes from the water’s beautiful amber color, which is the result of leaching of tannic acid from the cedar and hemlock swamps that feed the river. Tahquamenon was once part of logging country, with millions of logs traveling down the river to their destination.
Outdoor recreational opportunities are plentiful within the park. During the spring and summer months, you can spend your days camping in the 4 campgrounds, hiking and backpacking the 40+ miles of trails, fishing and canoeing on the 13 inland lakes, and hunting (when in season). Nature study and photography are popular activities as well. Fall is a popular time to visit Tahquamenon due to the vibrant colors of foliage that gradually take over. Shades of red, orange, and yellow embrace you as you hike and drive through the park. In the winter you can enjoy snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing in a winter wonderland.
There are two campgrounds at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and each one features a modern and a rustic section. One campground is at the Lower Falls by the Tahquamenon River, just below the Upper Falls. The Rivermouth Campground is five miles south of Paradise on M-123 where the Tahquamenon River flows into Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior.
This campground features 90 modern campsites. They include electricity, a fire pit, a table, hot showers, and flush toilets. There is a picnic area and shelter, a playground, and a concession stand. Sanitation stations are available at the Lower Falls and Rivermouth Unit. The campground at the Lower Falls is open year round.
Tahquamenon Falls Rivermouth Campground
This campground has 136 modern and rustic campsites along the Tahquamenon River. These rustic campsites have no electricity, but they do have a fire pit and a picnic table. You may take showers at the Modern Unit for a small fee. This campground is more secluded than the other one but it features a boat launch. Good fishing opportunities can be found along the riverbank and you can walk over to Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior to walk along the sandy beach.
There is an abundance of wildlife in the Tahquamenon Falls State Park, so keep your camera handy! You might spot moose wandering through the park or wading into the water. Black bear, coyotes, otter, deer, fox, porcupine, beaver, and mink are also residents of the park.
Bird lovers rejoice! Migrating birds that use Whitefish Point to travel to and from Canada pass through the park every spring and fall. More than 300 species have been documented using this migration corridor. Also seen in Tahquamenon are bald eagles, spruce grouse, pileated woodpeckers, and a variety of waterfowl and songbirds. The area is also one of the few nesting sites in Michigan for the Sandhill Crane.
Visit the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub, a combination of fine dining with rustic charm. Located within the State Park at the Upper Falls, you can enjoy fine dining and micro-brewed beers from the north. Try their famous Fresh Whitefish Dinners, Buffalo Burgers, Wild Rice Soup, Mushroom Pesto, Pork Tenderloin Medallions, Homemade Pasties, and more. While here, enjoy one of their handcrafted beers: Falls Tannin, Porcupine Pale Ale, and Lumberjack Lager. For an outdoor dining experience, try Camp 33 at the pub that features a deck with an outdoor fireplace that creates a cozy atmosphere. There is also a unique gift shop called Camp 33 that offers fine art, jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs.
Michigan Residents need to purchase a Recreation Passport for admission to Michigan State Parks. The Recreation Passport can be purchased when renewing a vehicle license plate, at the park entrances, or at any Office of the Secretary of State. Annual Cost: Motor Vehicles, $11 and Motorcycles, $5.
Non-Residents need a State Park Motor Vehicle Permit to enter Tahquamenon Falls State Park. $8.40 for daily use and $30.50 for a year. This Motor Vehicle Permit provides admission to all Michigan State Parks and may be purchased at the park entrance. This is the only fee for admission to visit Tahquamenon Upper and Lower Falls State Park.
The Recreational Passport fee is in addition to the camping fee. Campsite rates run from $16 to $23 per night. There are special off-season rates for winter camping.