Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Manido Falls

One of my favorite Midwest spots is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Michigan upper peninsula.

The park offers 90 miles of trails, beautiful lakes, and numerous waterfalls. It also offers an immense amount of biting insects (black flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and other major nuisances).

The best way to avoid these annoying pests (they are worst in June and July), is to go offseason. Fall and Winter are my favorite times. In the Winter the park offers both downhill and cross-country ski trails.

The park has three main sections: Lake of the Clouds (plus the shoreline), the interior, and the river (waterfall) section. This post is on Manido Falls in the river section.

Manido Falls is a waterfall on the Presque Isle River and is located in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Gogebic County, Michigan. With a drop of approximately 15 feet, it is the smallest of the waterfalls on the river. It has a crest between 50 and 150 feet, depending on the river volume. It is above Manabezho Falls and further down from Nawadaha Falls. The name Manido comes from the Ojibway word meaning “spirit” or “ghost”. A view of the falls is easily accessible by trail.

All of these images are from mid-October. They represent the peak of the Autumn season.

Feature Image Manido Falls

ISO 100 for 0.5 seconds at F16. I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at a focal length of 28 MM.

Manido Falls offers opportunities on both sides of the river and from the river bed itself.

Manido Rainbow

In late afternoon, on sunny days, Manido Falls creates huge rainbows as the sun sinks in the West. The best time is right before the shadows cast over the river. It takes light to produce a rainbow.

The major problem is contrast. I captured the scene in one shot but it took a bit of work in Lightroom to balance out the highlights and shadows.

You need a longer focal length for this image. I shot the rainbow at 158 mm. My primary landscape images lenses are all too short.

For this image, I used my Canon 100-400 MM F 4.5-5.6 L Lens.

I seldom carry that lens because of the weight. The lens weighs 55 ounces (about 3.5 pounds if you add the weight of the case).

That’s a lot of weight unless you have a strong reason to believe you will need it.  In this case, I did. I was familiar with the park. I also knew the main trail in this section was short.

Manido Falls River Level

It pays to explore all of the waterfalls in this section from may angles. That shot was taken at river level by scrambling out on some rock ledges. The river is in shadow but sunlight hit the tips of the trees. This makes an ideal setup for reflections.

Manido Falls River Opposite Bank

This is my favorite angle for Manido. It’s best in bright overcast light, but that is not the light I had. Rather, I took this image in late afternoon after the sun no longer shed any light on anything.

The view is looking straight West.


Waterfalls generally photograph best in bright overcast conditions or in shade. The rainbow image is an exception.

There is a 2-mile waterfall loop trail that circles the waterfall section. Take it.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Porcupine Mountains Images

Please see Porcupine Mountains State Park: Lake of the Clouds for a glorious set of sunrise and sunset images.

Please see  Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Manabezho Falls for Autumn images of the largest waterfall in the park.

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Coming up next: Nawadaha Falls

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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