Michigan Roadside Attractions: Tippy Dam in Manistee County

Michigan Roadside Attractions: Tippy Dam in Manistee County

Tippy Dam Manistee River Michigan

Michigan Roadside Attractions on Travel the Mitten highlights our attempts to explore the many interesting things that can be found on the highways, byways and back roads of Michigan, ranging from the interesting to the unusual.

Consumers Energy currently operates 13 hydroelectric dams in Michigan, including two on the Manistee River. The Tippy Dam is known for its excellent fishing in the waters below the dam, and is part of the Tippy Dam Recreation Area. It was constructed in 1918 and is the second largest hydro dam for Consumers. At one time this damn was known for its construction and innovation, but now it is mostly known as a fishing destination. We recently visited on a mild February day and saw many people fishing from the shore or from boats.

Tippy Dam Manistee River Spillway Michigan

The dam was originally known as Junction Hydro, but was later renamed to honor Consumers board member Charles W. Tippy. It produces 20,000 kilowatts and provides electricity for around 6,500 customers. The recreation area is home to picnic areas, trails, and a 40-site rustic campground. The waters directly below the dam are know for salmon and steelhead fishing and the riverbanks are lined with people every fall as they try to land a trophy fish.

Tippy Dam Bat information

We also found a sign during our visit that detailed how the dam’s spillway chamber is a winter hibernation site for as many as 20,000 bats. “Come spring, they emerge from the chamber to roost in the loose bark of trees near the hydro. They mate and raise their young on 400 acres of wooded land owned and managed by Consumers Energy, and on thousands of acres of surrounding Manistee National Forest land managed by the U.S. Forest Service. At Tippy, we welcome our winter guests. As well as devouring thousands of insects during their nocturnal patrols, bats pollinate flowers and disperse seeds – contributing in their own unique way to the cycle of life.” This plaque also detailed how work on the hydro is scheduled around the hibernation period, and work on trees in the vicinity is scheduled at opposite times.

Tippy Dam State Recreation Area Michigan

Tippy Dam Recreation Area is located at the end of Dilling Rd., just past its intersection with River Rd. There are a couple of parking lots near the boat launch that offer access to the trail along the river and have good views of the dam.