For heat-seared Southerners searching for a respite, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is the perfect place in summer. Temperatures that probably scorch cold-hardened Yoopers (residents of the UP – as in UPers), seem downright refreshing to us.
We spent a month tent-camping there, and it was delightful. Lake Superior on the north, Lake Michigan on the south, thousands of glacial lakes, and millions of trees make it a green, wet place. And two of these watery places left us awestruck.
On the east end of the peninsula, in Tahquamenon Falls State Park is one of the most unique natural sights in America – the Upper Falls on the Tahquamenon River. Pick your favorite analogy; this beautiful golden-brown water looks like root beer, coffee, tea, or maybe even caramel.
If you guessed that the amber color is rust or mud, you’d be wrong. Actually, it’s caused by tannin. The river drains a large area of cedar, spruce and hemlock swamps, and as the vegetation in these wetlands decay, tannin leaches into the water. At 50 feet tall, and 200 feet wide, it’s an astounding a sight.
And less than 100 miles away, on the southern edge of Lake Superior, is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The name of the park was inspired by these multicolored sandstone cliffs which extend for miles along the shoreline. We all expect colors like this in the Caribbean, but not “By the shores of Gitche Gumee.”
James & Terri
P.S. For the poets out there, Gitche Gumee is the lake in Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha.