Bonanza Falls – A Hidden Gem Waterfall Near the Porcupine Mountains
Located just down the road from the entrance to the Porcupine Mountains, Bonanza Falls is something of a hidden gem. Since it is technically outside of the park, it isn’t included on much of their literature. I first found out about the falls from Penrose’s “198 Michigan Waterfalls” book. I fell in love with the location on my first visit, and have been back seven times over the past four years. Among the things that keep me coming back: easy access to the falls, very little traffic at the falls, abundant wildlife and probably above all the complexity and uniqueness of these falls.
The Big Iron River is about 100 feet wide here, and while no single drop is more than 10 feet, the sheer number of drops more than makes up for that. I’ve never seen these falls at “high” water, so the upper section of the falls splits into two sections: the one seen above and the one seen below:
The way the slate rock comes up at an angle here makes for multiple water drops, and also provides a way to cross the river if water levels are low. If you’re ready for more, follow the trail down the east bank for even more sets of drops, although it’s hard to do this scene justice with just one photograph.
During our visits, we have seen deer and eagles in the area as well as evidence of bear and other mammals visiting the falls. This is a great add-on stop to any trip to the Porcupine Mountains, especially given its close proximity to Lake of the Clouds and the State Park Visitor Center.
Update/Edit: We returned to this favorite waterfall the first week of June 2015, and were blown away by the best water levels we’ve seen in our 10+ visits. Additional pictures have been added to this post. High water levels make this a stunning waterfall but also make it nearly impossible to access the rock ledges in the riverbed for photos.
Directions: from the intersection of M-107 and M-64 just outside Silver City, go about a mile south on M-64 and look for a dirt road on the west side of the road. This short road has an informative sign about the history of the area and Bonanza Falls (also called Greenwood Falls) itself. There is a parking area near the top of the falls, use caution as the trail to the bottom of the upper section has some steep slides and drops.
Be prepared for: getting your feet wet (bring water shoes if you have them), rocky and steep terrain in some spots.