Jul 10, 2018
Marinette County Waterfall Vacation
Marinette County is known as Wisconsin’s Waterfall Capital, with more than two dozen falls rushing water out to the Menominee River on its way to the Great lakes through Green Bay.
Tourism officials in Marinette County have established a self-guided Waterfall Tour map featuring 14 of the area’s famous falls located primarily within Marinette County’s Parks System. Check it out online at therealnorth.com.
Book a night or two in one of the county’s inviting hotels, resorts or campgrounds to provide your family two or three days to take in all of the falls. It’s bound to be a vacation everyone will remember for years to come.
U.P. Michigan and Minnesota
Don’t mind driving just a bit further to scope out some of the Midwest’s most prominent waterfalls? The western tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Lake Superior shoreline of Minnesota offer some of the most picturesque falls in the region. They typically have a more substantial flow of water than those in Wisconsin due to the large area of the basins from which these rivers collect rainwater and snowmelt.
Michigan’s Gogebic County offers a majority of the U.P.’s noteworthy waterfalls, and it’s easy to view several in two concentrated areas. The Black River, just north of Big Snow Ski Resort – home to Indianhead and Blackjack mountains – features nine waterfalls of 20 feet or more each across a 10-mile stretch, most of which are accessible with a brief hike off of County Road 513. Further to the east, the Presque Isle River offers a handful of scenic waterfalls you can play on top of as the river flows through Porcupine Mountains State Park and empties into Lake Superior.
In Minnesota, the famed Gooseberry Falls on the Gooseberry River are just a 30-minute drive north of Superior. Then continue up State Highway 61 for 15 more minutes to reach High Falls on the Baptism River, and a series of other falls all the way north to the Canadian border.
Most of these Minnesota waterfalls are located right off the highway and within view of the Lake Superior shoreline, offering convenient parking and a short walk to see the falls close up.
It’s disappointing to finally arrive at a long sought-after waterfall to find just a trickle running down the side of a rock face into a narrow stream below. It happens, though, particularly during drought conditions and other extended periods with little to no rainfall.
Waterfalls are often at their most glamorous when the flow of water over the falls is maximized. As a result, typically the best times to experience waterfalls in Wisconsin is in spring after the thaw of snow and ice – as well as April showers – result in plenty of water in upland rivers and streams.
Also, watch the weather for periods of extended, heavy rainfall in the northern reaches of the state. All that water needs to reach Lake Michigan or Lake Superior somehow, and often will do so careening over one of nature’s waterslides.
Wisconsin waterfall destinations for your family’s next adventure
By: Sean Fitzgerald, Badger Sportsman editor
Wisconsin is hardly as rugged as a western Rocky Mountain state, but it certainly offers a good deal more change in topography than our flatland neighbors to the south in Illinois.
And one can’t enjoy a waterfall where there’s no quick change in elevation to channel flowing water into a picturesque sight of nature’s beauty. Despite the notion that the best places to see a waterfall are in Niagara Falls or Yosemite National Park, Wisconsin actually offers a litany of destinations for cascading water across mostly the northern part of the state.
Trekking to see Wisconsin’s waterfalls is a delightful way to spend time together as a family. Most waterfalls typically involve a short hike from drivable roads and parking lots to reach the location of the falls. The most satisfying aspect of chasing waterfalls is when the effort of the hike is rewarded with breathtaking views and tranquil sounds upon reaching your destination.
Seeing Wisconsin’s waterfalls can be a memorable activity for the family as a destination in itself – or doing so simply as a brief respite from a long drive across the state to break up the trip, stretch out everyone’s legs, and get some fresh air before getting back on the road.
While Wisconsin boasts more than 60 bona fide cascades, cataracts and waterfalls across the state, we’ve picked out some of our favorites for readers to consider visiting on their own.
Here’s a list of Badger Sportsman’s seven can’t-miss waterfall destinations for your family’s summer adventure.
1. Big Manitou Falls – Douglas County
The granddaddy of Wisconsin’s waterfalls, Big Manitou is among the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States at 165 feet, just a few yards short of Niagara Falls. Located in Pattison State Park just 10 minutes south of Superior, the falls can be viewed at various platforms surrounding the falls to capture several vantage points.
While in the neighborhood: Visit Amnicon Falls, about a 15-minute drive to the north in Amnicon Falls State Park.
2. Long Slide Falls – Marinette County
Located in Morgan Park just a few minutes from Pembine, the Pemebonwon River takes a 50-foot tumble through a tree-lined gorge and gathers at an inviting pool at the bottom. The hiking trail leading to the falls is among the easiest and is suitable to hikers of nearly every skill level.
While in the neighborhood: Take the time to check out some of the more than 25 waterfalls and rapids spread out across Florence and Marinette counties. See the sidebar on Marinette County waterfalls on the following page for more details.
3. Potato River Falls – Iron County
Considered some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Midwest by fanatical waterfall chasers, the Potato River Falls just a mile from Gurney is a series of three waterfalls with a few hundred yards of one another that drop a total of 75 feet.
Rugged trails lead visitors to the top of each of the falls.
While in the neighborhood: Visit Upson Falls, about 10 miles upstream toward the community of Upson.
4. Dells of the Eau Claire – Marathon County
These falls were childhood favorites of mine growing up where the Eau Claire River fed into the Wisconsin River south of Wausau. Just 20 miles to the east sits Eau Claire Dells County Park, a popular summer swimming destination where volumes of water drop nearly 20 feet through canyons of carved-out granite.
Today portions of the area are closed to swimmers as a result of several tragic injuries and even death from unsafe decisions. But the dells are still accessible from various hiking trails, and the best views come from the County Road Y bridge straddling the river through the park.
5. Superior Falls – Iron County
Less than a mile from where the Montreal River dumps into Lake Superior at Saxon Harbor, Superior Falls drop 90 feet through a heavily forested canyon that divides Wisconsin from the most western point of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Standing near the top of this waterfall offers some gorgeous views of the falls’ namesake Great Lake in the not-too-far-off distance.
While in the neighborhood: Visit Saxon Falls, just a few miles upstream.
6. Copper Falls – Ashland County
Located within Copper Falls State Park on the outskirts of Mellen, the Bad River plunges 40 feet near its junction with the Tyler Forks River. Less than a quarter-mile upstream, the 30-foot Brownstone Falls offers an entirely different experience.
Well-developed hiking trails and staircases encompass all sides of both the Bad and Tyler Forks rivers, creating a scenic adventure where both waterfalls can be viewed from a variety of vantage points.
While in the neighborhood: Visit Morgan Falls on Morgan Creek in Chequamegon National Forest, about a 20-minute drive from Mellen. Dirt roads take you to the parking area for the hiking trail to access the falls, but you’re bound to be in sparse company at what some waterfall aficionados regard as Wisconsin’s most scenic.
7. Cascade Falls – Polk County
Looking for peaceful, natural serenity in an urban setting? Cascade Falls are tucked away immediately adjacent to downtown Osceola and State Highway 35 in a beautiful scene where one can hardly believe they’re in the middle of a city.
The city provides an improved walkway down more than 100 stairs to view the 25-foot falls over Osceola Creek, less than a mile before the creek dumps into the St. Croix River on Wisconsin’s western boundary.