WI waterfalls
Clockwise from top left: Amnicon Falls in South Range; Big Manitou Falls in Superior; Willow Falls in Hudson; Copper Falls in Mellen. (All photos courtesy of the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources)

The rivers and the lakes that you’re used to might not have the wow factor of these little bits of natural horsepower.

Wisconsin’s Connection to Niagara Falls

The Niagara Escarpment is an ancient line of erosion running from Wisconsin to Lake Ontario, filled with waterfalls tumbling into the Great Lakes basin. Water from Brown County’s Wequiock Creek plunges over the Niagara Escarpment into Green Bay before it heads east to the famous falls. 

Tip: Visit in the spring for the most active falls. (They slow down during the dry summer months.) Click here for more.

Small, but Beautiful

Southern Wisconsin is short on big falls, but hikers in the Baraboo Hills will point you to the plunging waters of Pewit’s Glen and Baxter’s Hollow. Pewit’s Glen is a natural gorge, between 30 and 40 feet deep, cut by a small stream called Skillet Creek. Less than 10 miles southwest, Baxter’s Hollow sits just off Otter Creek, a fast-moving, crystal-clear stream.

Tip: Stay on the paths at both parks! Climbing on rock walls and cliff jumping is not only prohibited, but it’ll cost you a $175 citation. Click here for more. 

Lost & Reborn Waterfall

Wausau was home to several falls in the 19th century before sawmills and paper mills rendered them obsolete. But don’t worry: the city has since recreated the excitement with its downtown Whitewater Park, a one-of-a-kind kayak course.

Tip: Whitewater is fresh off a multi-year rejuvenation, headlined by the “Big Drop 2.0.” Need we say more? Click here for a video clip.    

The Big Three

Amnicon Falls (Photo by Peter Nordgren)

The state’s biggest waterfalls are found where rivers plunge toward Lake Superior. The biggest is Big Manitou in Pattison State Park, which is the fourth-highest waterfall east of the Rockies! Ten miles away is Amnicon Falls State Park, and about an hour east is Copper Falls State Park.

Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for one-of-a-kind animals! Two rare species have been found in Pattison State Park. More information here.

Waterfall Central

Iron County boasts five of Wisconsin’s 10 biggest waterfalls. The tallest is Superior Falls, followed by the nearby Upper and Lower Potato River Falls. All are part of the Lake Superior Waterfalls Tour, which you can learn more about here.

Tip: Superior Falls is perfect for families searching for an easily accessible getaway– it’s just off US 2!

Wisconsin’s Waterfall Capital

Marinette County in Northeastern Wisconsin is home to 15 falls, from Long Slide Falls to Dunbar. Pick up a free waterfall map (or download one here) and a $5 day pass at the Marinette County Park Department to visit them all!

Tip: Pack a picnic basket and take a leisurely lunch near a waterfall of your choice! There’s more than enough space near most.

Waterfalls for Play

If you’re in the Lake Superior town of Cornucopia, take your kids to Siskiwit Falls. The river has a series of slides perfect for tubing and spending time by the river. The biggest is 10 feet, while three others have drops between 2 and 5. Click here to learn more about your sliding options. 

Tip: Current visitors beware! In the near future, Bayfield County plans to improve the existing, but primitive, trails. In the meantime, they ask visitors to be careful, both for their own safety and to prevent damage to the sensitive nature nearby.

You can see a slideshow of many of these waterfalls on our Instagram page.

Send us photos if you make any of these trips! We’d love to feature them in one of our daily newsletters.