Why Kitch-iti-kipi is a Must-Visit Michigan Natural Attraction

Julie Bitely

| 2 min read

When you first cross through the trees that ring Kitch-iti-kipi, Michigan’s largest natural freshwater spring, you know you’ve found a special place.
It’s when you cross over on a self-driven raft with a viewing portal in the middle that the magic of this Upper Peninsula tourist attraction really reveals itself.
Trout can be seen from a viewing portal in the middle of the raft you ride across on.
The raft in motion.
The opening from the entry.
The water is clear enough to see fallen logs below.
Clear, jewel-like aquamarine water holds steady at 45 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, its color a result of high sulfur content. Through the opening in the raft, you can see the spring beneath you, stretching down to depths of 45 feet. Highly pressurized water gurgles up at more than 10,000 gallons per minute. As you make your way to the far shore of the 300- by 175-foot pool, giant lake trout swim slowly back and forth.
Located in Manistique’s Palms Book State Park, the “Big Spring” draws more than 70,000 visitors every year, most taking in the view during the summer months. Park Supervisor Lee Vaughn said generations of families make the U.P. destination part of their summer vacation plans.
“People just love to come here,” he said.
When John Bellaire discovered the site in the 1920s, it likely wasn’t as scenic. Loggers were using the area as a dumping ground, but Bellaire saw something to preserve. Vaughn said he partnered with the Palms Book Land Company, brokering a deal to sell the property to the state of Michigan for 10 dollars, with the deed stipulating its use as public land in perpetuity.
“He really fell in love with the place,” Vaughn said.
Legends abound about the spring, the most well-known concerning a Native American chieftain named Kitch-iti-kipi. Vaughn said the story goes that he died crossing the spring trying to prove his love to a young woman.
“That’s how the name Kitch-iti-kipi came to be at this park,” he said.
Visitors can access the self-guided, accessible Kitch-iti-kipi raft at Palms Book State Park year-round.
Have you experienced Kitch-iti-kipi? Share your memories in the comments.
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Photo credit: A Healthier Michigan

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