In the Northwoods, we’re accustomed to a landscape liberally graced with the scenic blue waters of our abundant lakes. Less familiar is the silver sheen and white froth of water tumbling over rock, a natural phenomenon that is more plentiful in the northwoods than you might expect — there are 25 waterfalls within an easy drive from Minocqua. Like our lakes, they’re a result of glacial action eons ago during the Wisconsin glaciation. The impact, though, is quite different, as the tranquility of calm water gives way to the drama and thunder of falling water.
The most impressive waterfall in all of Wisconsin is Potato Falls at Gurney, 75 miles northwest of Minocqua. Potato Falls drops 50 feet and is 100 feet wide, and can be viewed from an observation deck at the parking lot or from an observation deck deep in the gorge, accessible by maintained steps and trail. within a 20-mile radius, you’ll find another six waterfalls worth a visit, including Upper Potato Falls, which tumbles 40 feet in several drops and is just a short walk from Potato Falls. Three — Copper Falls, Brownstone Falls and Red Granite Falls — are in the colorful river gorges of Copper Falls State Park near Mellen, 15 miles southwest of Potato Falls.
Bond Falls, just 85 miles northeast of Minocqua, is the most awe-inspiring waterfall in Michigan’s upper peninsula, with a main drop 40 feet high and over 100 feet wide. Above the main falls are a series of cascades and rapids that drop another 20 feet. Bond Falls is easy to get to, with level access from the parking lot to prime viewing spots. Fo see it from a wilder side, climb the steep rocky trail that ascends along one side of the falls.
A few miles northeast of Bond Falls, the very scenic Agate Falls drops some 40 feet over a series of terraces. an old railway trestle spans the falls, carrying hikers to a thrilling vantage point.
For maps and directions to more than two dozen waterfalls a short, scenic drive from Minocqua, visit minocqua.org or call the Minocqua area chamber office at 800-446-6784.