Have you ever had one of those dreams where you’re falling and there is no end in sight? Maybe you woke up in a panic which was followed by relief that it was just a dream. Maybe you are one of those people who were sad to wake up because you just love the feeling of falling.
Regardless of the type of person you are, I think we can all agree that it gets your heart racing. And a more conscious activity that can guarantee some heart racing is cliff jumping.
Cliff jumping is one of those adrenaline-inducing activities that I think everyone should do at least once in their life. The first time I did it was in Jasper, Canada in June where the water was so cold, my body almost went into shock.
Jumping into Lake Superior in August wasn’t as cold as that, but it was just as much of a rush!
Since cliff jumping in Canada a few years back, I’ve always wanted to jump again. I wanted somewhere I could plunge into the icy depths and feel the rush of adrenaline.
I did some research on cliff jumping in the USA, and found that Black Rocks in Marquette is a popular place to take the plunge. It’s been on my list ever since.
Black Rocks is located in Presque Isle Park in Marquette, Michigan, only an hour’s drive to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We camped in the National Lakeshore the night before and learned that cliff diving within the national park of Pictured Rocks is not only discouraged, it is also illegal to jump off any cliff higher than 15 feet.
Black Rocks has cliffs 20-30 feet high. So if you’re in this area and want to jump more than 15 feet, Black Rocks is the place to do it.
Jumping is legal, and can be safe if you take the proper precautions. In reading about the people who were injured jumping, most of them were jumping in the shallow parts. Jumping from high up may seem scarier, but it’s actually safer when you consider how deep the water is. The scary part would be jumping in a shallow part and hitting a rock.
Find the deeper part with the darkest water as that will be your safest option. A local guy told me that hesitating is dangerous, too. He saw someone hesitate which caused them to not jump high enough. That person ended up scraping her body down the side of the rocks.
So the best thing to do is find the deepest water, jump with determination, plug your nose and go for it.
It was an easy drive around Marquette. We followed the GPS to Black Rocks using Google maps. It will take you to the parking lot, and you’ll have the choice to walk to the left to get to the top of the cliffs, or walk to the right which brings you to the bottom.
I spoke with a local girl who let me know there are two options for jumping: 1) swimming up to the rocks at the bottom and climbing to the top, or 2) walking around the parking lot to the top of the rocks and jumping off. She said she preferred to swim so she could get used to the temperature of the water first.
I chose to swim to the rocks, too, and climb up. There was actually another local guy there who helped me find the right rocks to grab on to. It’s a little tricky if you’ve never scaled rocks before (or if you’ve never scaled rocks while dangling in deep water).
You’ll also need to be somewhat flexible to get your legs up high enough on the rocks to pull yourself up. Climbing up the rocks was an adventure in and of itself. If you don’t feel you can do this (or you know you’re not flexible enough), I would recommend walking to the top first to jump off and swimming to shore.
My Experience Cliff Jumping at Black Rocks
We arrived about 10:30am and there were only a few locals. By 11:30-12pm when we left, the place was filling up with families, couples and teenagers. If you want the place to yourself, I suggest arriving in the morning. We were also lucky in that this is the warmest time of the year to take the plunge. Even though the water was cold, it was actually the warmest it is all year.
The sun shining made the crystal clear water glisten with turquoise and deep hues of navy blue. The trees were a bright green, and the rocks sandy and gray. I can’t think of a more beautiful backdrop for cliff diving.
Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. After I scaled the rocks from the water, I walked to the edge to survey what I was getting myself into. It felt high. Real high. I came all the way, however, so I was going to do it. When I look back at the videos, it didn’t look as high as it felt. But jumping off the highest point, it’s about 30 feet in the air. It definitely feels high. So, I jumped.
The trip down was fast and scary, but the plunge into the water was incredible. Since I swam to the rocks first, the water didn’t feel as frigid. It was actually pretty refreshing.
The jump was so much fun, I had to do it again! I ended up climbing back up the rocks again, and jumping a second time. Many people do this over and over all day.
Even if you only jump once, the adrenaline rush of jumping off a cliff into the deep blue abyss of Lake Superior will fill your body with joy.
Looking for More Places to Cliff Jump?
There are places in the UP and around Lake Superior to jump if you are hooked on the adrenaline rush. We ended up loving the adrenaline rush so much that when we drove up north to Madeline Island (in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area), we jumped there again (twice). We sort of became cliff-driving junkies for a few days.
So, what about you? Are you ready to take the plunge?