Earlier this summer, around the 4th of Juky holiday, I spent some time at my childhood home. I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. (Michigan has two parts, connected by a 5-mile bridge. The Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula.  They call the Upper  — the U.P. They call the Lower — Michigan.)

Most of my large, extended family still lives in the area, or within a reasonable drive.  My drive is an unreasonable 8.5 hours.

The U.P. is a beautiful, remote place. At my dad’s house I literally have no cell phone reception. In 2015. But truly, so beautiful. Within its 16,377 square miles, there are:

  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
  • Coasts on three Great Lakes
  • Keweenaw National Historic Park
  • Ottawa National Forest
  • Hiawatha National Forest
  • Many National Wild and Scenic Rivers
  • Technically, Mackinaw Island is part of the U.P.
  • All but ONE of Michigan’s more than 300 waterfalls

During one day of my vacation home, a few of us took a few hours to explore. We set out into Wisconsin (it’s literally across the river; this is not far). We went to a small Mennonite grocery.  We had ice cream. Went went to Dave’s Falls.

view from the footbridge to the upper falls


Dave’s Falls is named in honor of a brave, industrious lumberjack who died at the falls trying to clear a log jam. It’s was gorgeous. And , clearly, the place mosquitos are born. Sweet. Jesus. But the rushing, copper-tinted water was breathtaking. Access to the falls and the small park are quintessentially U.P.: cheap, and on the honor system. Simply take an envelope out, rip off the validation tab for your windshield, insert your $3 and deposit the fee in the box.

The facilities are also U.P.-esque: gender specific outhouses and an old hand pump for water.  Someone had obviously been more successful than I was with it. The ground was wet, but I got nothing with my six or seven pumps.

The route to the falls was a bit difficult. As it was an unplanned stop, my flip flops proved less than desirable on the foot-worn, root-heavy path and smooth, uneven granite ledge.

In all, we spent about an hour laughing, exploring, listening, and slapping bugs.  It was a great stop, and I’m happy to check this U.P.-adjacent waterfall off my list!

Rapids at the bottom of the falls


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