With all its flowing waters, Wisconsin is home to a great number of beautiful waterfalls – from tiny hidden cascades to easily accessible, thundering spectacles. Stunning in every season, they become dramatic ice sculptures when winter arrives. These natural wonders are constantly changing, and aren’t something you see every day.
Whether you are interested in getting some fresh winter air by snowshoeing or merely want to discover a spectacular sight on a winter driving tour with friends, there’s a perfect waterfall for you and your crew in Wisconsin. Here are eight of the finest.
Big Manitou Falls
Pattison State Park near Superior is home to this 165-foot waterfall, the tallest in the state and the fourth highest east of the Rockies. Gradually the tea-colored waters of the Black River turn this into a magnificent wall of contrasting white. Designated overlooks offer safe spots for some amazing group photos. Conveniently, this is all a short walk along a paved trail from the main parking area. Don’t miss its 31-foot sibling, Little Manitou Falls, which also has its own parking lot.
Modest and spring fed, Stephens Falls is a thin curtain of streams falling into a small gorge in Governor Dodge State Park. The park's hiking trail begins in the nearby lot, but the paved trail to the falls is a stone’s throw away. A staircase down into the gorge gives you another angle on the icy display which starts small but really becomes something magnificent as the season progresses. Be sure to watch your step as the stairs can get icy.
Located in a tiny county park just north of Green Bay along Highway 57 to Door County, Wequiock Falls can practically dry up during hot summers, but give it time: eventually in winter it becomes a stunning collection of icy stalactites where that trickle flows off the rocky edge of the Niagara Escarpment.
Also in Green Bay’s orbit is this scenic glen in a county park along Bower Creek. A wheelchair accessible path leads just 300 feet from the lot to view this 30-foot falls from an overlook with a railing, or you can climb down into the glen for a closer look. As the falls comes off an undercut rocky lip, you and your crew can even get into the space behind the icy beard of the little stream for an impressive one-of-a-kind photo-op. Also check out the natural rock bridge!
Daggett Memorial Park
Montello has a most unexpected feature in their downtown: a waterfall. To see it, you can park right on Highway 23 where it passes through town. Flowing from an old quarry and tumbling over what's been touted as the hardest granite in the world, this steady waterfall drops in four separate places making it the widest icy falls you will find. You don’t even need to leave the warmth of your car to see it.
The star of Copper Falls State Park, this thundering 30-footer is where Tyler Forks meets the Bad River on its course north to Lake Superior. The falls partially freeze and the frozen spray continues to grow along the edges. The trails are great for hiking/snowshoeing, and the smaller Copper Falls is visible along the way as well. Bonus: venture into the western side of the park to find Red Granite Falls, a long, cascading rapids that also creates ice art in winter.
This precious gem of a State Natural Area – the state’s first – offers a short hike through a narrow sandstone gorge. At the head of the gorge, the creek that runs through it tumbles in as a little cascade, which grows to a picturesque ice sculpture as winter goes on.
A popular selfie spot, the bridge beneath Willow Falls in its namesake state park northeast of Hudson is your best viewing area of this natural wonder. The river flows out of a rocky gorge up to 200 feet deep, and falls over three main shelves for a combined 45 foot drop. A somewhat steep 0.4-mile, multi-use trail leads from the parking lot. This extraordinary falls offers photographers the chance to combine ice formations with beautifully blurred running water. Don’t miss it!
Plan more outdoor adventures with friends with these winter hikes!