Way, way up north is one of Wisconsin’s most amazing state parks. Home to the tallest waterfall in the state, Pattison State Park is more than 1,400 acres of nature that’s just waiting to be explored. Though the park is very popular in the summer months, it’s actually a brilliant place to experience all year round. From frozen waterfalls and snow-covered trees to splashing in the river at the gorgeous beach, you’ll find ways to be in awe whenever you visit.
This gorgeous park takes up nearly 1,500 acres in the very northwest corner of the state. According to the DNR, The Park is named for Martin Pattison, an early lumber man and miner. In 1917, Pattison learned of a plan to build a power dam on the Black River which would have destroyed Big Manitou Falls. To block the development, he secretly purchased 660 acres along the river from a number of landowners. With the donation of the land, in 1918, Pattison saved the waterfall and property surrounding it. He donated the land to the state, who created its sixth state park in 1920.
The big attraction here is Big Manitou Falls, which has a 165-foot drop. It's the tallest waterfall in the state and the fourth tallest east of the Mississippi. The falls is created as the Black River tumbles over ancient basalt - or lava rock that flowed a billion years ago. The falls here and the ones at nearby Amnicon Falls State Park actually sit on an ancient fault known as the Douglas Fault
There's a ridge that can be seen as you look south that runs all the way between the two parks. The earthquakes that were caused by the fault formed everything you see around here 500 million or so years ago. In the summer, you can get geological tours here at Pattison.
The different rock formations here are fascinating and can lead the park to look like something out of a fantasy book. It's awesome to visit in different times of year as the summer growth can block some of the most interesting views. Coming back in fall and winter gives the place a whole new look.
Many folks come here and only check out the waterfalls, but to fail to check out the rest of the park is to miss some of the best views. There are nine miles of trails here wending through forests and wetlands.
There are more than 200 species of birds that call Pattison home as well as more than 50 species of mammals. Balsam, fir, birch, aspen and spruce trees create a patchwork of color when fall arrives.
Though the Big falls are quite the attraction, Little Manitou Falls has its own appeal as you're able to get closer. The river here changes colors based on rainfall and winter runoff and it's most apparent here.
Climb to the top of the observation tower for panoramic views that on clear days can go straight to Lake Superior. In the fall, you'll feel like you're floating above a quilt of colors.
There's a gorgeous beach here that few folks know about, so in the summer, plan to take a dip.
There are camping sites, hiking trails, fishing, hunting and cross-country skiing opportunities here, making this the perfect place to visit in every season.
You won't regret any time you spend at this magical park.
Pattison State Park is located at 6294 WI-35, Superior, WI 54880.
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