Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Road Trip Day One- Driving and Waterfalls

As promised (or threatened) here's a little taste of my recent road trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  
Hitting the Road
Everyone arrived at my house Friday Morning, and we piled all the luggage into my car and hit the road. It was a nice Wisconsin summer day. One where it's sunny and warm but not too humid and the sun isn't pounding down on you. It takes about three hours to cross Wisconsin and come to Land o Lakes, which is a small little town on the edge of Wisconsin, right before you enter Michigan.

Originally, we had planned to just wing it and stay where ever we decided once we were there and just do whatever we felt like. I was good with this plan until about a week before but then I decided we should kind of have a route mapped out just so we had a time table and reservations at places that had gotten good reviews on Trip Advisor- that kind of thing. Plus, a lot of the waterfalls are off the beaten path and without planning ahead, you'd miss a lot of them.  So, I had mapped out three waterfalls for Friday.

Bond Falls
Bond Falls was the first one.  This is a Michigan state park, which means you have to buy a passport to visit it.  It was $9 and that's good for the whole day, for any park in Michigan.  (Note: I was there a few years ago and parked at the top of the falls and walked in, and didn't pay.  Not sure if I was just oblivious that I was supposed to pay, or they used to not charge or what.)  It was beautiful, as Bond Falls always is, but the mosquitoes were horrible.  I had sprayed my arms and lower legs with natural repellant (Now's Bug Ban) which worked pretty well, but I hadn't sprayed my face or clothes and they were just thick.  Like you could move your hands through the air and just feel the mosquitoes bumping into you.  Totally gross.  So we didn't stay too long.  But, it's a gorgeous park, great views, cement steps and railing.  The steps go right up along side it, so you can safely get pretty close to it.

 Bond Falls, Ontonagon County, MI

Agate Falls
After leaving Bond Falls, we headed for Agate Falls, which is right on the highway, it's on the same river as Bond Falls.  You park in a little wayside, and walk a nice path, to a view of the falls.  Easy peasy.  It was also pretty shady, which was nice, because the U.P. was just as warm as home had been.  I've seen some beautiful shots of this falls when taken alongside it, instead of above it.

View from scenic overlook of Agate Falls, Ontonagon County, MI

O Kun de Kun Falls
After that we were thinking about getting some lunch, but we came upon the road for O Kun de Kun Falls next.  I had never been to O Kun de Kun, but from what I read it was supposed to be gorgeous.  We parked the car in this little turn off and followed the arrow on the sign that directed us that it was 1.3 miles to the falls, but not before coating ourselves in bug spray, changing into sneakers, and grabbing water.  It was a long hike.  We were starting to think we had taken a wrong turn somehow, or that they don't know how to measure miles or something.  We walked and walked, across 2x6s and jumped over muddy spots and climbed over down trees.  There is a path and it's pretty easy to follow, but be warned, it feels like it takes forever to get there.  But, when we finally reached it, we were so glad we had come.

O Kun de Kun Falls, Ontonagon County, MI
 It's not the biggest falls we saw, or even necessarily the prettiest, but it was the most fun.  O Kun de Kun falls over a rock lip, so you can actually shimmy behind it and stand in this little mini cave while the water falls right over you.  You get a little wet from the spray, but it's totally worth it, and pretty refreshing after the hike.

Here's a second picture so you can get a better idea of the scale of the falls

Brianna, behind the falls.

Victoria Dam
According to Google, Victoria Dam is very close to O Kun de Kun, and even though we were all starving, we decided to trek over to it.  I had read that the falls were part of the dam, but they were listed as having outstanding views.  We drove for what seemed forever, up a hilly gravel road, and finally reached the falls.  Unfortunately, it is literally part of the dam, so it's all fenced off.  Plus, there's a bunch of trees kind of obscuring the view.  From what we could tell, it was probably pretty.  :)

Victoria Dam, or at least what you can see of it.

Home for the Night
By the time we finished visiting that falls, I was ready to eat and crash for the night.  We stopped at Culver's in Houghton, and then made a stop at the grocery store for bagels and bottled water for the morning.  We crossed into the Keewenaw Peninsula and drove straight through to Laurium.

Originally, we had wanted to stay at the carriage house at this B&B in Laurium, it had lots of room and would have been perfect for four girls.  But, when I called, they were in the midst of redoing the bathroom, but the lady there was super helpful and ended up hooking us up with one of their vacation homes for the night.  Normally they don't rent them by the single day, but it was open, and there was a few days gap between bookings so they said we could have it it we wanted it.

I'm really glad we took it.  It had a full kitchen, a washer and dryer (so we were able to wash our bug repellant and slightly muddy clothes).  Plus, we got to tour the Laurium Manor Inn, which is now the bed and breakfasts.  The house was built in 1895 and has been restored.  So, it still has that old house charm, but with nice bathrooms and kitchen appliances.  :)  Plus, it's in the residential part of town so you feel like you just live there.  We all really liked the house and I would definitely stay there again, if the opportunity came up.

Our home, Miner's Cottage, from the sidewalk.
So, after driving all day, and trekking through the woods, we all showered and just crashed for the night.  But we, were all happy and comfy.


  1. Beautiful shots. I love waterfalls!

    1. So do I! And Michigan is full of them. I think there's like 150+ in the UP alone!