When I visited the Upper Peninsula in September 2010, there had been significant rainfall in the area for days. This had lead to waterfalls flowing at their best, and Bonanza Falls happened to be one of the stops along the way. It really goes to show how much waterfalls can “change.”
When my father and I arrived at Bonanza Falls, for a moment I wasn’t even sure I was at the right waterfall. In the book, it showed trickles of water flowing over maybe 5% of the available river. Instead, we saw most of the river covered in water, and we could tell that what had once been mostly dry land with plants had been covered with water. The river was definitely at full force. From the photos, you might be able to tell a significant amount of mud and tannins were being carried along with the water, making the water “root beer” colored.
There are three or four drops along the river (which are often more noticeable), and the total drop is at most 10′ tall. You might wonder why you should visit the falls. Well, after a heavy rain or during the spring snowmelt, the falls are pretty impressive. And when we visited in late September, the trees were starting to change, adding even more color to the view. In the depths of summer, it might not be as exciting. I might not go out of my way to visit Bonanza Falls, though it is very easy to visit and is near a number of other waterfalls in the Porcupine Mountains.
1) From Ontonagon, head southwest along MI-64.
2) You will come to an intersection. You can either turn left and continue south on MI-64 or you can head west, entering the boundary of Porcupine Mountains State Park (heading to Lake of the Clouds). TURN LEFT and continue on MI-64.
3) About a mile after turning, you’ll see a sign for Bonanza Falls on your right. Turn right onto this gravel road and drive the very short distance to the parking area near the river. You shouldn’t need to search for the falls. If you don’t see them after seeing the river, you’re at the wrong place!
Where in the World is Bonanza Falls?: map