Black Rocks Marquette | Cliff Jumping in Michigan at Presque Isle Park
There’s a place in Marquette where all the cool kids go to jump off a cliff… and into Lake Superior. That place is known as “Black Rocks.” Black Rocks Marquette is one of the best summer things to do in the Upper Peninsula!
The Upper Peninsula has a vast landscape with numerous opportunities for outdoor fun throughout the year — biking, hiking, rock climbing. Black Rocks in Presque Isle Park is the perfect place to go cliff jumping in Michigan.
About the Black Rocks Cliffs in Marquette
Marquette is the largest town in the UP. In 2020, USA Today readers voted it one of the 10 Best Small Towns for Adventure.
It’s a hot spot for outdoor enthusiasts because it’s located along the shoreline of Lake Superior, which you can jump into from the Black Rocks into the biggest (and coldest!) Great Lake.
Black Rocks is one of Marquette’s coolest attractions, in my opinion. There are many, to be sure, but cliff diving into a frigid Lake Superior is a rush. And if you wait until the middle of August, the water isn’t too cold by most people’s standards. Which is to say not too cold. Not warm, but not cold.Jesse Land, Awesome Mitten’s Resident Yooper
As one of the coolest attractions in Marquette, the Black Rocks are an ancient rock formation that stands 20-30 feet above Lake Superior.
Aside from the height, the dark color of the cliffs adds a dramatic landscape to the shoreline along the tip of Presque Isle Park. You can get breathtaking photos no matter when you visit.
How to Get to Black Rocks Marquette
Black Rocks is near the tip of Presque Isle Park in Marquette.
You have to park in Presque Isle Park to reach the Black Rocks. Peter White Drive is a one-way scenic loop that circles the park, and you can use it to access the parking lot near the shoreline and Presque Isle Point.
Keep in mind that the seasonal portion of the drive is closed at certain times during the summer, limiting traffic to bikers and hikers:
- Mondays and Wednesdays — 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Tuesdays and Thursdays — 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Saturdays and Sundays — 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
From the rear parking lot, it’s only a short walk east to the cliffs. Cliff diving into the frigid blue water below is one of the most adrenaline-pumping summer activities in the Upper Peninsula.
The water isn’t as cold in mid-August as it is earlier in the summer right after the ice has melted. But it’s still pretty chilly water. Because of that, you’ll want to have a towel, blanket, or even a change of clothes to warm up afterward.
Since this is a popular spot, you’ll likely share the space with other visitors who are putting their courage to the test. It’s a favorite among college students because Marquette is the home of Northern Michigan University.
The best way to jump is to not think about it — just jump! Once you actually do it, you’ll realize that it’s not as scary as it looks.
I’ve had a couple of low-key “cliff diving” experiences before—both at about 30 feet—but I still had my reservations about taking the plunge into the chilly Superior. Cliff goers lined the edges of the rocks, jumping at sporadic intervals and then climbing back up for more.
After observing enough of these jumpers with a 100% survival rate, I decided it was time to join in on the fun. Nearing the edge was the easy part—it’s all about clearing your mind and taking that literal leap of faith.
After I plunged into the waters and surfaced, my friend yelled toward me, “How was it?” It was a real rush—the only thing that kept me from answering was the icy waters made my chest feel as if I had just done a shot of whiskey.
I quickly regained feeling in my lungs and replied to take the plunge—the water’s great. I enjoyed it so much that I even made a second jump. The 100% survival rate was still intact.John Kalmar
Don’t Be Careless While Jumping
While it’s exhilarating to go jumping off a cliff, Marquette officials discourage it. The fire chief says that the activity is a high hazard because Lake Superior has rip currents and cold water. There are no lifeguards either, so swimming is at your own risk.
During his 19 years of service, he has witnessed two deaths and about six injuries at Black Rocks Marquette. These are very small numbers considering that cliff diving has become something of a right of passage for locals.
If you really have your heart set on cliff jumping in Michigan, be as safe as possible about it. Don’t go at night, and don’t dive headfirst. Also, don’t go alone. Going with a group is best, but have at least one other person there just in case.
Jumping Off Black Rocks
Our resident Yooper, Jesse Land, shared some of his first-hand experience at Black Rocks with us…
Now, I’m not going to get into the technique of cliff diving because I’m no expert, and there are definitely things you should know about it before you tackle this extreme sport. So for an excellent (but brief) cliff diving education, click over to this article.
One day while visiting Marquette this summer, my friend Jen and I were hanging out on Presque Isle and decided to walk over to Black Rocks. I didn’t have my swimsuit with me but I really wanted to jump so I could get some photos for this web site. Luckily, Jen had just come from the beach. “I’ll jump,” she said without flinching.
Most people tend to hesitate for at least a few moments before jumping. Jen hesitated for maybe a second. Maybe. She’s a trooper.
Also on the rocks that day was a girl in her early twenties who refused to jump, despite much encouragement from her friends. There were a couple of college guys who kept jumping in, climbing back up, and then jumping in again. And there were about five or ten onlookers. (It is fun to watch)
One note – If you do take the plunge, I’d recommend swimming to shore rather than climbing back up the cliff. You’ll be in that chilly water a little longer, but that’ll just make you swim faster!
More to Explore in Presque Isle Park
In addition to being a spot for cliff diving, Presque Isle Park serves as a launching point for canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. The 323 acres is considered the recreational crown jewel of Marquette. The almost island — which is what its name means in French — is known across the country for its natural beauty.
Presque Isle Park mainly features natural forest but has secluded coves, beautiful beaches, marshes, and rocky outcrops. You can explore all of this via the John B. Anderton Trail System, which winds through the center. White-tailed deer are common in the area, as are Canadian geese and raccoons.
You can always use the Peter White Drive loop to bike or walk around the park too. Following the path west from Black Rocks Marquette, you come to the graves of Charlie Kawbawgam, the last Chippewa Tribe chief, and his wife, Charlotte Kawbawgam.
Just past that is Sunset Point, which is great for catching the second golden hour in the day. If you follow the scenic drive around, you’ll come to another parking area where you can view a display of mined copper.
On top of that, Presque Isle Park has several spots where you can go fishing for lake trout, lake whitefish, and brook trout. It has two major picnic areas with cooking facilities, picnic tables, and restrooms. You’ll find the bigger one on the southeast side with a playground. Park benches are scattered throughout as well.
Based simply off of a map of Marquette, Presque Isle Park seemed like the ideal location to take in the sunset to cap off our first night in the city. We made the 10-minute drive from the Landmark Inn to Presque Isle Park, following the aptly titled Lake Shore Boulevard along the lakeshore.
We walked out on the pier and toward the Presque Isle Pier light, turning every few seconds to catch the fiery red sunset that was appearing just over the horizon.
The real highlight of the evening trip to Presque Isle was when we hopped back in the car and navigated the windy and wooded trail around the island. Without a destination in mind, we pulled off to the side of the road to see the colorful and ever-changing-by-the-minute sunset before our eyes.
What I thought would be a short stop turned into an hour long overlook of the bay. It was one of the most picturesque sunsets I’ve seen, and hands down, my favorite over Lake Superior.John Kalmar
Other Things to Do Near Black Rocks Marquette
As a recreational center in the Upper Peninsula, Marquette has so much to do and offers access to more outdoor activities beyond its borders.
Powder Mill Disc Golf
If you like disc golf, check out the 18-hole Powder Mill Disc Golf course. It was established in 2013 along the Dead River and will have you traversing rocky, wooded ridges and throwing from rock outcroppings.
Noquemanon Trail Network
Marquette has no shortage of hiking trails with the Noquemanon Trail Network. The more than 80 miles of non-motorized trails are located throughout the Central Upper Peninsula, and two large sections are located north and south of the town.
The north trails feature 30 miles of track along the Dead River, stretching from Marquette Tourist Park campground and Forestville Campground. The south trails include more than 45 miles of track that feature waterfalls and big views.
Lower Harbor Park
Next to the docks in Marquette, you can enjoy more outdoor fun at Ellwood A Mattson Lower Harbor Park. The 22-acre park has a big, open grassy space that’s popular for special events — the International Food Festival, the Marquette Seafood Festival, fireworks, concerts, and more.
You can use the picnic area, park benches, concession and restroom facility, and Kid’s Cove Playground. Additionally, the park has a shoreline bike path and a walkway with period-style lighting along the waterfront.
Marquette Mountain Resort
For adventure in a resort-like atmosphere, go to Marquette Mountain Resort. It offers opportunities for biking various trails, hiking over rocky and rugged terrain, climbing rocks, and playing volleyball.
Marquette Restaurants With Exceptional Flavors
Although many people go to Marquette for recreational activities, the town is a foodie paradise too.
Contrast Coffee Co
You can get some of the best coffee in the Upper Peninsula at the Contrast Coffee Co. The beans are roasted in Iron River, Michigan, which is less than two hours away. Then, the beans are brewed at the Marquette shop, which is one of four across the peninsula.
It serves custom lattes, signature and classic cups, and teas. You can even order food — freshly baked goods, crepes, and grilled panini sandwiches.
Fish Express is a collaboration between two friends who love fish. The chef created a varied menu of fresh fish. Whether you want it fried, grilled, or baked, this fish is some of the best in town. You can order it as a platter, with chips, or on a sandwich. The mobile restaurant has a veggie sandwich as well.
Serving a rotating menu of sandwiches, Rotations Deli is a unique spot.
All of the specials are named after people: The Dave is a cheesesteak, The Jason is pita bread with grilled ham and cheese, The Ann is a falafel, and The Ruby is a Reuben. However, these are only a few of the options on the menu.
Lagniappe Cajun Creole Eatery
With authentic Southern cooking, the Lagniappe Cajun Creole Eatery is a restaurant that cooks with big flavor. The menu features spicy Louisiana dishes as well as Southern barbecue, Cajun, and Creole classics.
Everything is made from scratch and is absolutely delicious after spending the day at Presque Isle Park and Black Rocks Marquette.
Dumpster Water Grill
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind experience with food, you have to visit the Dumpster Water Grill. The Tanzanian chef has carefully crafted the menu with recipes that his grandfather used.
Some of the side items have interesting names, such as the sand-encrusted barrel-fired asparagus and the don’t touch my bread government bread basket. The restaurant has events regularly too — “Moisture Mondays” is 75% off signature drinks, and “Throwaway Thursdays” is 70% off the week’s least ordered dishes.
Island Ice Cream Store
For a sweet and cold treat, stop by the Island Ice Cream Store. Operated by Vango’s Pizza & Cocktail Lounge, the ice cream shop is located near the entrance of Presque Isle Park. It serves a variety of cone sizes, from a mini scoop to a triple scoop.
The shop has a range of popular Jilbert’s Dairy flavors, including superman, Mackinac Island fudge, and rum cherry.
Lodging With Easy Access to Black Rocks Michigan
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about experiencing everything in Marquette in just one day. The town has plenty of lodging options. Several major hotel brands include:
If a bed and breakfast is more your style, you can choose from two:
- Nestledown Bed and Breakfast has a Finnish/Scandinavian style and is within walking distance of historic downtown. It has five rooms, a cottage, and a sauna for guests.
- Blueberry Ridge Bed and Breakfast is an elegant but rustic lodging option about 10 minutes from the heart of Marquette. It’s known for its garden and featuring a blueberry-style breakfast.
Camping is also an option when you visit Marquette.
- Operated by the city just north of downtown, the Marquette Tourist Park is a 40-acre, wooded park with 110 campsites for tents, RVs, and trailers.
- To the northwest is Forestville Campground, which is more on the rustic side with pit toilets and no facilities for showers or electrical hookups.
- At Rippling River Resort, though, you can go as rustic or luxurious as you want. It has rustic sites and cabins, full-hookup sites, luxury cabins, glamping tents, and an array of amenities.
Frequently Asked Questions about Black Rocks Marquette
Where can I cliff jump in Marquette?
Black Rocks in Presque Isle Park offers thrilling cliff jumping in Michigan.
What are the Black Rocks in Marquette made of?
Rusty orange and red Jacobsville Sandstone rises out of Lake Superior along the Upper Peninsula. At Black Rocks Marquette, the metamorphosed igneous peridotite underneath the sandstone is exposed. This exposure is called nonconformity, and it’s visible on the west side of Presque Isle Park too.
How old are the Black Rocks in Marquette Michigan?
The metamorphosed igneous peridotite of the Black Rocks is about 1.7 billion years old.
Is Presque Isle Marquette open?
During the summer season, Presque Isle Park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. During the winter, it’s open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where can I watch the sunset in Marquette?
We think that Sunset Point in Presque Isle Park is the ideal spot to watch sunsets, but you can watch sunsets at other points along the Lake Superior shoreline as well.
Does It Cost Money to Jump Off Black Rocks Michigan?
Many people have been searching the Internet to find out if it costs money to jump off of Black Rocks near Marquette Michigan.
Well, here’s your answer… Nope! Happily, you can jump off for free at your own risk. You just drive over to Presque Isle, park, walk to Black Rocks and jump.
Thanks for the article. At Michigan Tech we used to cliff jump at a place off US 41 just south of L’Anse called Canyon Falls. Not sure height, 30 ft. or so into a pool below the waterfall. Definitely long enough to think about it on the way down!
Remind people to stay off the rocks in storms, people have been swept to their deaths