Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Not so sure it’s Paradise

Thursday June 12, 2014
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
PARADISE, Michigan


We begin swatting as soon as we get up.


We’re using every weapon we have including the skillet. We have an arsenal of sprays but I can’t use them in the house except for the “natural” ones which only discourage the mosquitoes for about 30 minutes before having to be reapplied.







Time to see the falls, that’s the main thing we came for.

Although there seem to be several really nice trails and some great kayaking as well.  The mosquitoes seem to be worse in the house than outside. Maybe it’s the warmer weather inside and lack of wind that attracts them. We get geared up to go see the famous falls.







We take the lovely wooded path from the campground to the lower falls trail. The campground is located right on the Tahquamenon River, source of the falls. We’re hoping for some good paddling. The park has been highly recommended to us as a great place for hiking and kayaking.






The lower falls do not disappoint.

Their iron color is from the tannin in the river.






The park has a dock from which they rent boats so you can paddle over to the island in the center of the river and hike its perimeter trail which gives you great views of both the upper and lower falls from angles you can get no other way. Unfortunately the concessionaire won’t let you launch from there but we think perhaps we can put in at the campground and paddle down the river to this spot and then paddle over and dock.




The employees here are walking around in t-shirts and shorts. We are dressed in long pants, long sleeves, gloves, hats and mosquito face nets. How do they do it? Repel. But it’s 40% Deet. It’s the only thing that works they tell me and just be glad there aren’t any black flies. Well that’s comforting.







The map shows the location of the campground, the lower falls, the river and the island we’d love to kayak over to. The boat launch is the You are Here star. Our campground is on the lower right.  We’ll have to investigate whether there really is another possible put in other than the “private” boat dock.






Sure wish we could take the trail from the lower to the upper falls.

Given the mosquitoes, we decide not to hike the 4 mile trail from the upper falls to the lower falls.  Normally we would do the 8 miles round trip but after fighting mosquitoes inside we decide to just take the lazy way and drive up.  I’m told that July and August are really the months to come to the UP.  It’s true that’s when everyone comes but that’s also when the bugs are supposedly fewer.  Although this year they say is particularly bad due to all the snow and rain they’ve had for the past 2 months.   We make a quick stop in the store where we find tourist gifts galore.  These two are my favorites.  Just can’t decide which of the animals would fit on the bed next to Winnie the Pooh.






The shop is located right next to a brew pub.  Now when was the last time you found a brew pub at the end of a 4 mile hike?  David thinks hiking up from the lower falls, having a brew before seeing the upper falls and then hiking back sounds like the perfect way to relax between 4 mile hikes.  Had he known this, he might have felt differently about braving the mosquitoes on that trail.  HA!






We get sneak peaks of the falls all along the boardwalk which is really well done and protects the habitat perfectly from the millions of people who would climb all over it.  As we walk, people coming back comment about how well prepared we are in our long pants, long sleeves, gloves and mosquito head nets. They are swatting in T-shirts and long pants.









The Upper falls has a flow of 3037 gallons per second.  This falls is second only to Niagara as the largest in the country.  The US Geological Survey maintains a gauging station that measures water flow and the height of the river.  Peak flow usually occurs in Mid April when warm sunny days combined with rain melt the snow pack , producing millions of gallons of water that tumble over the falls.  As of this sign, the Record flow was 52,228 gallons per second May 10, 1960 but after this year, I think may rival that record.  In May many of the trails and bridges on them were washed out due to the river level being three times higher than normal. The water was at 10.36 feet on May 10.

The river begins about 70 miles north of here as a small creek.  It gains momentum as water from higher elevations drain into the river.  Its watershed is 80 square miles.


It’s 94 steps down to the view at the falls.  David contemplates.  That’s actually 188 steps he says and half of them are up.



But the view is fabulous.  The park has done a wonderful job of boardwalks to several different great viewing locations for these huge falls.  We can feel the spray here.




I do so love water falls.  I just can’t get enough of them.  From every angle.  I could stay here all day and with the spray from the water, the bugs are minimal.








doesn’t it look like lace close up?


We always see funny things which I sometimes am not able to photograph since they almost always involve other people.  But this time I could sneak a picture of another use for duct tape, clothing repair.  I’ve actually done some shoe repair with it on some old farm clogs but this just made me laugh.



After David drug me away from what I thought was the last view of the falls, we remembered there is a trail to the gorge.  More distant views all along the path.  Some made a little closer by my camera’s zoom lens.




We arrive at the steps to the gorge which are right next to the end of the 4 mile River Trail between the two falls that we’ll put on our return trip in early September some future year. Doesn’t it look fabulous?   Actually this trail was heavily damaged by the snow melt and rains that caused the river to flood taking out numerous bridges and closing the trail in May.  They must have done a hurry up job of repair because it was not closed today although we were told it was very muddy.  Wet and muddy means even more mosquitoes in my book.



But it looks like the 232 steps down and up to the gorge will be a hike of their own.





We find ourselves walking along the river with a straight on view of the falls in front of us.  It’s a fairly long way back toward the falls.   Much more than just the steps.  When we are returning, we pass a group who asks us, “how much further is it”?





From here we can see the platform at the top of the falls from which we have just come.




We trade pictures in front of the falls with a couple.  My camera makes the falls look much further away than they were in this shot.  We couldn’t feel the spray but we were facing right into them.  Signs were on the water about paddling no closer than this.   Notice I have my gloves off and we both have the nets off of our faces.




We both agree when we get back to the top of this boardwalk that it must have been less steep than the one with 94 steps that we climbed to the top of the falls.   Or that one put us in better shape to do this one.   Our trip back to the parking lot was on the fern and bluet covered nature trail.   We had to put the mosquito gear all on for that walk.




Back at Winnona the mosquitoes are still here.  David goes back to the brew pub while I swat mosquitoes and try to work on the blog in my protective netting since they seem to like most to fly into my face.  I have a Cherry Republic Boom Chugga Lugga Cherry Soda Pop as my reward. Talk about sweet soda pop!  Wow even my sweet buds are jumping!




He chooses the Black Bear Stout which to quote him “seemed unremarkable to me, flat and thin.” 
I think I had the better of the drinks. with my boon Chugga Lugga.







When he returns, it’s back to the mosquito wars full time unfortunately.  Here is the kill for less than an hour tonight.  We haven’t used the thermacell inside since they are very specific in saying don’t use it.  I suspect no one can even imagine having this many mosquitoes inside their RV.    So what’s your guess?  Can we eliminate them?  This is our 2nd of 4 nights that we’ve paid for by earlier reservation.  Wish us luck.



  1. Gosh, those falls ARE beautiful!! I can't imagine living with all those mosquitoes though!! I hope some miracle takes them away for the rest of your stay!!

  2. Love the tannin in the falls, makes it very interesting looking! I would be in tears having to battle that many mosquitoes.

  3. We spray the 40% Deet around the door several times per day & hang sticky fly paper inside near the entrance when we're in the U.P. My granny used to say that a wet wood campfire near the camper helps. The damp wood produces lots of smoke, flies & mosquitoes don't like it. The brewery's beer leaves a lot to be desired but the whitefish on the menu was delicious. You may want to visit Whitefish Lighthouse & the Edmond Fritzgerald Museum while in Paradise. When I was a little girl there were only dirt paths around the falls. Back then you could walk behind the Upper falls & wade in the Lower. Much has changed except for their beauty.

  4. We had planned on eating at the Brew Pub, but we could only eat outside with the dogs and I was not dealing with mosquitoes while eating. I can't believe you have to wear your netting inside! Oh my! I couldn't take it.

  5. I'm guessing the mosquitoes in Minnesota will seem nonexistent to you after the UP.

  6. I would allow the Thermacell to run inside the motorhome for an hour or so without being inside it myself. That should do it. Other option is to allow the Thermacell to run outside, set up underneath the motorhome. Might work if it's not too windy.

  7. We were up there a couple of years ago in July and the mosquitoes were so awful we didn't make it past the first night. I would suggest a fan blowing inside the RV to make things tolerable. Good luck! You are brave to stay!

  8. A brewpub at the end of the hike- perfect. I would be scramming out of there are leaving it to the mosquitoes. I hate them.

  9. Knowing how Jim hates mosquitoes and how much they love him, we would have been out of there as soon as we arrived, reservations or not! What a shame, it looks like such a beautiful place. I doubt we will ever be going to Michigan.

  10. We had a mosquito problem like your in TX once. I swear we were swatting at least 2 hours each day. Finally figured out they were getting into the rig through the slide seals. Closing up all the slides gave some relief. Worth a try if it's that bad. The rest looks great.


  11. The Falls were beautiful,you two are tough cookies I wouldn't be able to stand it. That is way too many to be able to enjoy anything but you do have some fancy gear there!They look fairly large as well!!!!!1
    All those steps..would be a challange but what a view!

  12. Thought we'd visited so many shops to read things with "sayings" on them, I seen them all, but had never seen the "marriage is like a deck of cards!" And I am STILL laughing! Between that and the duct tape, you'll keep me amused all day. So, so sorry about the mosquitoes.

  13. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!! You two are so kind to brave the mosquitos and take us to see the wonderful falls:o)) Sure hope you had a mosquito net for the pie!!

    Now, if you could just get us some of that PIE;o)) I would not have to put this on our TODOS list and wouldn't have to face the mosquitos!!! But then again, I have had David's Cherry Pie and I really can't believe there is a better one:o)))

  14. This does not sound like fun when you have to be suited up to the max or else be eaten alive by mosquitos!@#@ The falls don't look that big except in the last photo when you referred to them as looking like lace. Are you having to sleep under netting? There is nothing worse than trying to sleep with bzzzzzzzing in your ear. xxxooo

  15. There is NO WAY that I could stand hordes of mosquitoes INSIDE the rig! Even one mosquito inside drives me crazy. The hike looks great, but I think we're crossing this place off of our list. Thanks for giving us all the info -- the good, the bad, and the biting.

  16. You are brave souls! I can't enjoy anything when there are mosquitoes. You might want to get yourselves a couple of the tennis racket looking electric bug killers. You can zap them with no harm to yourselves. There are many different kinds. http://tinyurl.com/outzycx Bugs are one reason we rarely camped in summer unless it was at high altitude.

  17. I have many memories of Tahquemenon, one time we were visiting with a church group which included one gent named Roger, a bit of a smart aleck. When a lady inquired why the water was that color, his response was Moose pee :)! In regards to the moosequitoes, I think this is a job for duct tape. Tape around the slide seals and other entry areas.

    I am not sure where you planning on going next, but I recommend driving the newly paved road between Grand Marais (Mi) and Marquette. I suggest either the state park outside Marquette or Porcupine Mountains State Park. Take a day to kayak along Pictured Rocks, another to explore Kewanau peninsula (look up the monks that make fantastic jams and jellies). One more day to see the Porkies.

    Randy in Mn

    1. Baraga is name of the park outside Marquette, actually in L'Anse. Another wonderful park is McClain in the Kewannau peninsula. Both should have fewer mosquitoes.

      Randy in Mn (Land of 10,000 lakes and lots more mosquitoes)

  18. The Lumberjack Lager sounds just about right to me. Do you remember Monty Python's hilarious song about "I'm a Lumberjack and I'm O.K."?

    The lady in the picture may have sat on a piece of duct tape and doesn't even know she is carrying it around. Oh lordy when she finds out.

    The falls are truly beautiful and I would love to see them. I would have driven right out of the state before I would fight with those numbers of mosquitos.

  19. Could you wear one of those beanies with a fan on it? Gheez I don't know. Like the wet fire smoking them out! You are such diehards and so determined despite anything in your road....WOW! Falls are sure cool!

  20. oh wow. . .a local Michigander told us that the falls rival Niagara. . .only much more natural and rustic. . .he may be right. . .really lovely. . .sorry about the mosquitoes. . .they have been tolerable here in Wisconsin. We can sit out if Dave sprays the yard guard about 15 minutes beforehand, and we use the Thermacell outside. . .

  21. Sorry you're having so much trouble with the mosquitos . . . they are our state bird, though! :) I couldn't handle having that many inside . . . you're hardier than me! Love the pictures of the falls . . . you should see it in winter, covered in ice and snow . . . really beautiful!! We've snowmobiled there in the past. Bryce loves the Cherry Republic pop!

  22. That is incredible the number of mosquitos INSIDE! Yikes! I don't know if I could handle the entire 4 nights...the falls ARE beautiful though!

  23. Come to the Portland area And we'll show you some falls .....and no misquitos :)

  24. If not Portland try up here at Lake Chelan..Some skeeters but nothing like there, I'd hit the bricks if I were you two.
    I'll spring for an Obsidian Stout for David. I need to know where the ice cream was on your cherry pies?
    Good Luck,

  25. oh, my goodness!!! that mosquito situation is gross!! How do u sleep, don't they bother then too?? BUT!!! beautiful falls!

  26. I think you're fighting a losing battle, there are more of them than there of you. We had to do battle with tiny gnats in several places we've been to, but never mosquitoes in such numbers. I don't think we'd have the fortitude to stay as long as you have were that the case. When we were battling bug swarms, we bought two box fans that we carry in the basement. We set them up to create a cross-breeze when necessary ... seems to help tremendously with the flying bug population both inside and out. We also set out a small bowl of apple vinegar with a drop or two of liquid dishwashing soap mixed in ... seemed to attract and kill the small gnats most effectively. Have never tried it with mozzies ... but you never know.

  27. Beautiful falls! How can they calculate the gallons? Sounds like so many-beautiful and lovely walks and viewing possibilities. But, the mosquitoes how awful. I wouldn't want to live there despite the beauty :( Nice masks! That cherry soda looks great! So did the stout. Too bad it was unremarkable :( I'd have tried the lagar :)

  28. I like how prepared you are for those nasty biters. Such a gorgeous hike and falls. I'd go absolutely crazy with all those mozies in my RV. Thank goodness it's too dry here for those. Really like the idea of a pub along the trail.

  29. I say suck up the price of the last two nights and head out, especially with this new virus the mosquito is now carrying. Good luck:)

  30. I won't let Steve read your mosquito story, he won't drive up here. Amazing how those peskies managed to get in. But that is really a lot of mosquitoes! Luckily we still have the head nets we used while in AK, this must be handy when we get to the UP or MN for that matter.


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