Natural Wonders: Eight Photos of Michigan’s Frozen Waterfalls

Did you know that there are more than 200 waterfalls in Michigan? Many of these are located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and are a beautiful sight to behold in any season. When the temperature drops during the deep winter months, the free-flowing falls freeze over and transform into magnificent winter wonders.

Michigan visitors and residents alike venture out to feast their eyes on these natural beauties (and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even learn how to ice climb one!). Some of these spectacular sights are relatively easy to access. Others require snowshoes, skis or a snowmobile. Find out how to access the frozen waterfall nearest you here.

In Michigan, you’re never more than six miles away from a natural water source. Why not take a day trip to marvel at Michigan’s frozen falls? For inspiration, here are eight fantastic photos of frozen Michigan waterfalls captured by our fans and other talented photographers around the state.

Frozen Munising Falls at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Photo by Neil Weaver Photography.

 Ice formations at Tahquamenon Falls. Photo by: Tracie Bishop Kochanny

Ice Climbing in Munising, MI. Photo by: Kathryn Lund Johnson Nature Photography

Enormous icicles at Munising Falls. Photo by: Paul Arno Rose

Upper Tahquamenon Falls. Photo by: Jeffrey Foltice

Munising Falls. Photo by: Michigan Nut Photography

Behind Tannery Falls in Alger County. Photo by: Photo by: Brian Kainulainen Photography – BWANA Design

 Tannery Falls. Photo by: Brian Kainulainen Photography – BWANA Design

For more, check our our Facebook or Flickr page and follow us on Instagram! Have you ever seen a frozen waterfall in person? 

Six Reasons You’ll Want to Golf on a Frozen Great Lake

You don’t have to leave the Midwest this winter to enjoy a mind-blowing round of golf. The U.P. Ice Golf Scramble will take place March 1, 2014, in St. Ignace. Calling it a one-of-a-kind event just doesn’t do it justice. Mindy Rutgers from St. Ignace Visitors Bureau tells us why:

1. A Chip Off the Old (ice) Block

You know your favorite course like the back of your hand. You may have even golfed all of the interesting venues in Michigan.  Let St. Ignace introduce you to a new course and a new twist on your favorite pastime. Anyone can say they shot the back nine, but how many of your friends can say they played on 12 plus inches of ice? Few duffers can lay claim to rounds on Lake Huron or Lake Michigan, but the UP Ice Golf Scramble has courses on both of the lakes.

2. A Fun and Level Playing Field

Literally and figuratively – this outing offers a level playing field. Literally – because the lakes are flat and the courses as level as Mother Nature can make them. Figuratively, because we’ve constructed an event that places the emphasis on fun. It’s a two-person, best-ball scramble, which is our way of saying that even if you’ve never golfed in your life, partner up and take a swing at a winter adventure. No handicaps. No pros. Just fun.

3. White is The New Green

Swap your golf cart for a sled and turn your white golf balls a color of your choosing and you’re ready to play one of the three courses offered – the Chief Wawatam on Lake Huron, the Mighy Mac on Lake Michigan or the Greenland, also on Lake Michigan.

4. Go to the Extreme

Golf is traditionally a quiet, relaxed sport. But in this age of amped-up activities, bucket lists, and thrill-seeking, what could be more extreme than playing through atop 20 fathoms of icy cold waters? St. Ignace has a long history of using the frozen Great Lakes as a playground – from snowmobiling to pond hockey championships – but if you haven’t golfed Michigan or Huron, you haven’t taken full advantage of the state’s winter wonderland.

5. A Mighty Mac of a Prize

Teams can also enter a decorated sled for judging and a chance to win two tickets to the top of the Mackinac Bridge towers. These coveted tours don’t come around often, so flex your creative muscle and get to work on a showpiece sled that will dazzle the judges and your fellow golfers.

6. Golf Clothes Never Looked So Good

Are you turned off by the stuffy attire required on some courses? Ice golfers can forget about the preppy polo shirt or the golf knickers. Pack your thermal underwear, your fleece and anything else that can provide layers of warmth. Make sure you have a touk (a knitted winter hat) or a Stormy Kromer (a stylish wool cap made in the Upper Peninsula) and remember your sun glasses because St. Ignace is known for beautiful winter sunshine!

Learn more and register for the U.P. Ice Golf Scramble at www.stignace.com or call (800)338-6660.

Have you ever played golf on a frozen Great Lake? Tell us about your experience!

Mindy Rutgers is the Executive Director of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. She has worked in Michigan’s tourism & hospitality industry since 1996, holding posts in the Detroit metro area, as well as in the Upper Peninsula. She is also a seasoned ice golfer, but will focus on hosting, rather than competing in, the UP Ice Golf Scramble. 

How To Ice Climb a Frozen Waterfall in Michigan

In advance of the Michigan Ice Fest in Munising this January 30th – February 1st,  festival organizer and ice climbing enthusiast Bill Thompson lets us in on some of his tips for ice climbing a frozen waterfall in Pure Michigan. 

In casual conversation when it comes up that I enjoy the sport of ice climbing, the usual response is, “there’s ice to climb in Michigan?” followed closely by “you guys must be crazy”.  The fact of the matter is that Michigan has some of the highest concentration of ice climbs in the country, and no we are not crazy!

Ice Climbing in Michigan has changed a great deal over the years.  Back in the “olden days”, only a handful of climbers danced up routes that seldom saw two ascents in a single year.  Now with the popularity of ice climbing it is common to see climbers “up here” every weekend.

Nestled on the shores of Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers some of the country’s most outstanding ice climbing.  The area is predominately sandstone which rises magnificently up to 200 feet above the shores of Lake Superior which has been shaped over the decades by wind, ice and pounding waves. These cliffs, colored in shades of brown, tan, and green by the iron, manganese, limenite and copper in the water, give the area its name sake.   During the cold winter months, these sandstone cliffs seep water that forms spectacular ice curtains and pillars which ice climbers are drawn to.  Add dozens of true water falls to the mix and suitable climbing conditions December through April and Munising becomes an ice climber’s paradise!

For me the attraction of ice climbing is part location and part sounds.  Image being on the shores of one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world, snow lightly falling and not a sole around for miles.  The sound of your ice axe sinks into to the pillar with a confident “THUNK”.  Moving your feet slowly up, crampons biting into the ice, you ascend to a place where few people are privileged to visit.  The sounds, sites and movement are truly addicting.

Now ice climbing isn’t a sport where you run down to your local outdoor store, purchase the gear, and head on out to climb…….now that WOULD be crazy!  The best way to experience the sport to see if you like it is to head on out to the Michigan Ice Fest.  Traditionally held the first weekend in February in Munising Michigan, this grass roots event has been taking place since the early 1990’s, making it one of the oldest Ice Fests in the country.  During Ice Fest there are opportunities to try out the latest climbing gear and clothing, take instructional courses and clinics on a variety of ice climbing-related subjects, as well as interesting and inspiring slide shows from world-class climbers.  If you are an aspiring ice climber- the Michigan Ice Fest should be on your calendar!

With the right training, just about everybody can ice climb.  Many are driven by the challenge, others to the opportunity to experience the unique landscape and beauty of the Upper Peninsula in winter.  Whatever their reasons are, I can assure you that there are thousands of ice climbs in Michigan, a unique opportunity to learn how to do it, and you really don’t need to be crazy to try!

Have you tried ice climbing in Pure Michigan? Tell us about it! 

Bill Thompson is co-author of An Ice Climber’s Guide to Munising, Michigan. For the last 28 years, Bill has lived and climbed in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is co-owner of Down Wind Sports in Marquette and is also the organizer of the Michigan Ice Festival, which draws 400+ climbers to the region annually. Bill enjoys traveling to different climbing destinations nationally or internationally, but can be just as happy cragging locally with his son, Blake.