Frozen Waterfalls and Ice Caves header 19 Amazing Frozen Waterfalls in Michigan to Explore This Winter
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19 Amazing Frozen Waterfalls in Michigan to Explore This Winter

The Mitten is such a beautiful state, especially in the Upper Peninsula, during the winter. Amid the rolling hills and wilderness areas, waterfalls abound across the region. Michigan is said to have nearly 200 named waterfalls, all of one being in the Upper Peninsula. When the temperature drops, often below zero, the whole peninsula turns into a winter wonderland. The waterfalls freeze into thick pillars and sheets of ice, creating some of the most stunning natural attractions around the Great Lakes. Since it would be difficult to visit all of the frozen waterfalls in Michigan, here are some that should be at the top of your list of things to do in Michigan in winter.

au train frozen water falls munising michigan 19 Amazing Frozen Waterfalls in Michigan to Explore This Winter
Au Train Waterfall, Munising | photo credit

Tips to Keep in Mind for Exploring Frozen Waterfalls in Michigan

Exploring frozen waterfalls in Michigan will differ slightly from exploring flowing falls during the summer. The best time to explore frozen waterfalls in Michigan is during late February and early March because the ice has had time to build and the days are longer.

While the temperatures are just starting to rise, you should still be ready for cold, snowy weather. Make sure that your car has good snow tires for the drive, and consider renting a snowmobile to access unplowed roads. Wear warm clothes, and be prepared for it to be windy.

If you plan to hike, take some ice cleats or snowshoes to be on the safe side. Walking sticks and ski poles can be useful too. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t forget to bring a camera.
  • Take a water bottle to stay hydrated.
  • Pay attention to warning signs on trails.
  • Don’t walk on groomed cross-country skiing and snowmobiling trails.
bond falls frozen waterfall in michigan 19 Amazing Frozen Waterfalls in Michigan to Explore This Winter
Bond Falls | photo credit

Frozen Waterfalls in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon

On the far west of the Upper Peninsula, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is one of the few large wilderness areas left in the Midwest. It’s home to hemlock hardwood forests, miles of streams and rivers, and several frozen waterfalls in Michigan. In particular, the waterfalls along the Presque Isle River are worth visiting.

Manabezho Falls

With a 150-foot crest and 25-foot drop, Manabezho Falls is one of the biggest waterfalls on the Presque Isle River. Its name is a reference to a spirit god of the Ojibwe peoples. You can easily get a view of the falls via a nearby trail.

Manido Falls

Above Manabezho Falls, Manido Falls has a crest of 50 to 150 feet depending on the volume of flowing water. The falls drop about 15 feet, and you’ll have no problem seeing it from the trail. The name comes from an Ojibwe word that means “ghost” or “spirit.”

Nawadaha Falls

Farther up from Manido Falls is Nawadaha Falls. It has a crest of 50 to 150 feet, again depending on water volume, and a drop of about 15 feet. Unlike the other two waterfalls, you have to climb some rugged trails to reach it.

porcupine mountains - frozen nawadaha falls
Nawadaha Falls, Porcupine Mountains | photo credit

Bond Falls Scenic Site in Haight Township

Southeast of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, the Bond Falls Scenic Site is a waterfall on the Middle Branch Ontonagon River. As the water tumbles over a belt of fractured volcanic rock, it creates numerous small cascades that fall for about 50 feet. A boardwalk with six viewing spots is accessible, but walking it during the winter can be challenging.

Agate Falls Scenic Site in Trout Creek

If you follow the Middle Branch Ontonagon River north, you’ll come to Agate Falls Scenic Site. As one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula, broad bands of interlacing cascades are created by the water falling over terraced sandstone. It has a drop of nearly 40 feet, and you can see it from the nearby foot trail.

Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park in Sundell

To the east and beyond Marquette, Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park has one of the most impressive frozen waterfalls in Michigan. The water falls down rock ledges about 100 feet before landing in a deep gorge of layered limestone. Three observation decks overlook the falls. Be aware that the road to the parking lot for the trail isn’t always plowed completely, so snowshoes are recommended.

Agate Falls frozen waterfall in Michigan's upper peninsula
Agate Falls | photo credit

Frozen Waterfalls Near Munising, Michigan

There are 19 waterfalls in and around Munising, which is a very high concentration. A lot of them are located within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (see below), but the following are notable falls outside of the park.

Au Train Falls in Au Train Township

Just west of Munising, Au Train Falls is a wide waterfall with cascades over several rock formations and a crest of 200 feet. The upper part of the falls has a 40-foot drop, while the lower part only falls about 10 feet. During the winter, the hike to the upper falls can be slick, so tread carefully. Fortunately, the road is plowed regularly.

Scott Falls in Au Train Township

North of Au Train Falls and closer to the Lake Superior shoreline, Scott Falls is one of the easiest Michigan waterfalls to reach. The reason is that it’s located next to M-28, and you can even see it from the road. The water flows over a sandstone cliff, falling about 10 feet into a small pool below.

Frozen Scott Falls near Munising Michigan
Scott Falls, Munising | photo credit

Wagner Falls Scenic Site in Munising

One of the frozen waterfalls in Michigan that you must see is at Wagner Falls Scenic Site. The site is about 22 acres, and you can expect a snowy hike on the trail and boardwalk. The water cascades down about 100 feet of rock and is nestled among hemlock and pine trees.

Memorial Falls and Tannery Falls in Munising

At about 40 feet each, Memorial Falls and Tannery Falls are located very close to each other and both have caves behind them. The same trail offers access to both falls and can be slippery during the winter. Although they’re similar, Memorial Falls is more popular for ice climbing.

munising falls pictured rocks frozen waterfall michigan
Munising Falls | photo credit

Frozen Waterfalls Along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising

Many of the frozen waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula are located within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The Au Train Formations, which consist of hard limey sandstone, are more resistant to the water flow than the lower soft sandstone layers. Despite most of the waterfalls being accessible by foot, watch your footing on uneven terrain. Here are five waterfalls that are worth the trek.

Munising Falls

One of the most-visited waterfalls on the west side of the park is Munising Falls. An 800-foot paved trail leads to the falls, which has a 50-foot drop into a canyon. You can stop by the visitor center before you start the trek. Even though the parking lot is plowed in winter, the trail isn’t.

Miners Falls

Another impressive waterfall is Miners Falls, which has about a 50-foot drop over an outcrop of sandstone. The trail from the nearby parking lot is a rolling dirt and gravel pathway through woods. There are two overlooks along the way, and you get views of the Miners Basin as well.

ice climbing pictured rocks bridalveil frozen waterfall michigan
Bridalveil Fall, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore | photo credit

Bridalveil Falls

If you want an epic climb up a frozen waterfall, you’ll get it at Bridalveil Falls. It’s located about 0.5 miles northeast of Miners Beach, and the water plummets 140 feet from one of the Pictured Rocks cliffs and into Lake Superior. You can see it from the beach, lower Miners Castle overlook, or the lake.

Spray Falls

Like Bridalveil Falls, Spray Falls plunges directly into Lake Superior. However, it’s 70 feet high. The best point from which to view the waterfall is the lake, but you can kind of see it from the North Country Scenic Trail too. At the base of the falls, the 1856 Superior shipwreck rests 20 feet underwater.

Sable Falls

On the eastern side of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sable Falls is about 1 mile west of Grand Marais. A short trail leads from the parking area to a long staircase of 168 steps, at the bottom of which is the best spot to view the falls. The water drops 75 feet over sandstone formations.

frozen sable falls in pictured rocks
Sable Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore | photo credit

Frozen Waterfalls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise, Michigan

You’ll find the most popular frozen waterfalls in Michigan at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The largest is the Upper Falls, which is 50 feet high and 200 feet wide, and the walk to the falls is the easiest. The Lower Falls are 4 miles below and consist of five minor falls that flow around an island.

frozen tahquamenon falls
Tahquamenon Falls | photo credit

Noteworthy Waterfalls in the Lower Peninsula

There aren’t many waterfalls in the Lower Peninsula – in fact, there’s only one natural waterfall in the Lower Peninsula – and they don’t always freeze during the winter. However, here are a couple of spots that are worth exploring if you’re looking for frozen waterfalls in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway in Ocqueoc Township

Located along the Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway is Ocqueoc Falls, the largest waterfall – and only natural waterfall – in the Lower Peninsula. Additionally, it’s the only waterfall in the United States with universal accessibility. Although it’s not a tall waterfall, the area has 6 miles of biking, cross-country skiing, and hiking trails.

Barton Nature Area in Ann Arbor

There isn’t a natural waterfall in the 102-acre Barton Nature Area, but the Barton Dam has a majestic appearance when it freezes during the winter. Constructed in 1912, the dam becomes a frozen wall of water across the Huron River. You can get a good view from the nearby footbridge.

barton dam frozen waterfalls in michigan
Barton Dam, Ann Arbor | photo credit

Photos of Frozen Michigan Waterfalls and Ice Caves

While visiting frozen Michigan waterfalls and ice caves is one of our favorite winter things to do, we know that not everyone can get out and enjoy these natural wonders. So we’ve gathered some of our favorite photos of frozen waterfalls and Michigan ice caves from top Michigan landscape photographers on Facebook and Instagram.

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Eben Ice Caves
Eben Ice Caves | photo via @NicoleMeiner

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Eben Ice Caves
Eben Ice Caves | photo via @NicoleMeiner

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Miners Falls
Miners Falls | photo via @ColleenStankiewicz

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Grand Island
Grand Island | photo via @TimTrombley

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Presque Isle
Presque Isle | photo via @MeganMauter

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Presque Isle
Presque Isle | photo via @MeganMauter

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Eben Ice Caves
Eben Ice Caves | photo via @JacquelineSmart-Parrish

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Munising
Munising | photo via @JacquelineSmart-Parrish

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Munising
Munising | photo via @JacquelineSmart-Parrish

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Munising
Munising | photo via @brixhikes

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Tahquamenon
Tahquamenon | photo via @skykingcamera

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: UP
UP | photo via @michiganexplorer906

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Munising
Munising | photo via @brandonwade.mi

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Marquette
Marquette | photo via @michiganexplorer906

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Pictured Rocks
Pictured Rocks | photo via @errythang_19

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Ishpeming
Ishpeming | photo via @nature_lover_xo

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: UP
UP | photo via @irwin.nick

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Eben Ice Caves
Eben Ice Caves | photo via @michael.mi.photography

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Munising
Munising | photo via @mark_o_foto

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Munising
Munising | photo via @maddeyjeanimages

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Munising
Munising | photo via @aliajamila

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: UP
UP | photo via @n8rose04

 

ice caves and frozen waterfalls in Michigan: Eben Ice Caves
Eben Ice Caves | photo via @irwin.nick

Winter Brings More Than Frozen Waterfalls in Michigan

During the winter, Michigan offers a plethora of experiences. If you want to see more ice formations, check out the Eben Ice Caves. There are several ski resorts in Michigan and fun polar express train rides and holiday light displays during the winter holiday season. In addition, here are some other things to do in Michigan in winter and fun winter vacation destinations in Michigan.

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