The park, at a glance, looks very... park-like. There are large groomed grounds for picnics and playing, and some good old CCC buildings for gatherings, all near a small man made lake (which is a strange concept coming from northern MN.) The campground looks nice. But what drew us were the waterfalls beyond the recreation area.
Pattison State Park features the highest waterfall in Wisconsin. At 165 feet high, Big Manitou Falls is roughly the same height as Niagra Falls (but a great deal skinnier!) and is claimed to be the 4th highest waterfall in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains.
The Native Americans who originally settled in the area around the falls believed they heard the voice of the Great Spirit within the roaring of the falls and gave it the name "Gitchee Manitou."
The kids and I stopped here with family last fall, but it was a hurried visit, and we missed the smaller falls. This was a great day to return for a closer look. With spring thaw there was plenty of rushing water while still some nice ice formations.
Approaching Big Manitou Falls..
Nearing the drop off, a long way down!
(Photo above taken last Fall. Spring 2015 below.)
Viewing of Big Manitou Falls is limited from lookouts on the wooded rim. There is no access to the gorge, and climbing in it is prohibited. These limited vantage points make for deceiving photos taken at a downward angle. It looks so much larger in life!
At the bottom of the falls, the Black River quickly disappears, hidden by treetops in the rugged gorge, flowing on toward Lake Superior. It would be amazing to look down and see the depth of the gorge and the river winding along, but I appreciate that it's been left wild and full of trees.
(Photo of the gorge and horizon also taken during our Fall visit.)
We had a pretty good view from the other side of the gorge.
Notice the ice arch over the falls, really cool!
Headed upstream to Little Manitou Falls, which did not disappoint!
Little Manitou Falls drops just 31 feet, but makes up for height in width and open views. The falls form a bit of a punchbowl before the river moves on. I'm guessing that in summer months when the water is low, one might be able to climb around in this open area.
We walked downstream along the river. Spring runoff had created huge frozen veils of ice coming down the sides of the ravine.
Back to Little Manitou Falls, I climbed down a steep wooded hill for a better photo opp.
If you've been around for any of my other waterfall adventures, you'll notice I never think to bring a tripod along, but prefer a longer exposure for moving water.. so I have to make do.
All of these photos were taken with my camera wedged on a stump or rock. They aren't great, but I'm always pleased that they're better than I expect, given the circumstances. Holding still is hard!
I found a place to sit between trees and watched and listened for a while.
"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water." — Loren Eiseley
I took some short video clips to capture the movement and sound.
I don't usually do video, I hope it works!
Martin Pattison was a lumberjack and miner who began logging the Black River in 1879. He eventually sold his lumber interests, but in 1917, he heard about a plan to build a hydroelectric dam on the river which would've destroyed the waterfall. To block the development, he secretly purchased 660 acres along the river, saving Big Manitou Falls. In 1918 he donated this land for public use, saving the waterfall and surrounding forest.
"In being able to grant this site to the public, I have accomplished one of my chief ambitions. For years I have spent much time amid the surrounding of the falls and have received so much enjoyment there that it gradually became a part of my life."
Our thanks to Mr. Pattison. We had a great day here!
Peace, Love, and the Voice of Gitchee Manitou,
Sharing with Our World Tuesday