Having lived in Michigan for more than 27 years, I thought I knew of and was familiar with all the beautiful spots here. Certainly, the Great Lakes coastlines are noted for their distinctive landscapes and vast scenic beauty. Otherwise, Lake of the Clouds, Tahquamanon Falls, or perhaps one of the many smaller waterfalls dotting the Upper Peninsula are cited as the most awe-inspiring inland place to visit.
But, just last week I became aware of and twice visited a natural site that to this blogger could very well be the crown jewel of inland scenic beauty in Michigan – the Grand Canyon of the Upper Peninsula in Baraga County south of L’Anse.
The Grand Canyon of the Upper Peninsula is not immense, but what lacks in size, it more than makes up for in uniqueness, inspiration, and stunning beauty. Along the mile or so length of this box canyon are a series of breathtaking waterfalls and rapids that carry the lovely Sturgeon River through a tree-studded, narrow chasm of slate rock rising 50 feet on either side of its tannin rich waters. The sensory impact is undescribably beautiful, especially as the deciduous trees are just starting to turn color.
For some odd reason, this site is not part of a national park, nor even a full-fledged state park, but instead is a state scenic site that is situated at a roadside park/rest area along U.S. 41. Furthermore, the signs only describes it as “Canyon Falls,” named for the largest of the waterfalls here. By my count, there are at least five waterfalls along this mile or so long stretch of the Sturgeon River, each with its own identity, personality, and individual beauty.
Those who stop at the roadside park and make the effort to traverse this rugged and varied terrain are treated to a spectacular scenic and sensory wonder. Similarly, hikers traversing the North Country National Scenic Trail, which forms the hiking route aside the north rim of the canyon, are welcomed by an outstanding gift of Mother Nature as they pass through the area.
Here’s a pdf file link to a handy waterfalls map for the county – Baraga-County-Waterfalls-Map and below is an image showing many, but not all of waterfalls that can be seen just in Baraga County and neighboring Marquette County to the east.
In a state bestowed with so many natural amenities, it can be hard to pick favorites. But, in this case, it is hard to imagine any other readily accessible inland place that is more soothing to the soul. And in these trying and difficult times, that is truly a gift that we all can appreciate. Peace!
If you enjoy waterfalls too, here’s a great resource for them in Michigan that’s available through Amazon.com* via this visual link.