If you’re headed to Michigan and you're looking for a little crystal-clear view, spend an afternoon at Kitch-Iti-Kipi aka “big cold water”, Michigan’s largest (and most gorgeous) freshwater spring.
Like any good freshwater spring, Kitch-iti-kipi stays at a toe-curling 45 degrees at all times, thanks to 10,000 gallons of freshwater that flows into the 40 foot deep pool every single minute. Yep, you read that right! On a good day the emerald-blue water is so clear you can see the entire shape of the natural limestone pool. The spring is so beautiful its original name was “Mirror of Heaven”, and once you see it you’ll understand why.
Though it’s not known exactly where all that water is coming from, what isknown is that the body of water is connected to an underground stream called an aquifier that flows from the nearby Indian Lake. Likely the pool was revealed when a thin layer of limestone broke apart and fell to the bottom of the underground cave. The spring is populated by brown trout, lake trout, and brook trout, who all like to hang out at the bottom of the bowl. If you’d rather get a good look while floating on a raft, there’s an awesome self-operated boat that that can be pulled across the spring on a cable. There’s even a little viewing window at the bottom of the boat.
Back in the early 20s, Kitch-iti-kipi was sold to the state of Michigan after John I. Bellaire, a local Five and Dime store owner, fell in love with the area and convinced the land owners to sell it to the state of Michigan. The spring and the surrounding 90 acres were sold for 10 dollars, with the agreement that the “the property be forever used as a public park, bearing the name Palms Book State Park”. Today the park contains over 300 acres of surrounding land, and thanks to Bellaire will remain an untouched park for the general public to enjoy for years to come. Though technically swimming is not allowed, people have been known to do it anyway, fishing however is probably not a good idea.
If you’re going to be visiting Michigan this summer and you’re looking for that perfect place to relax on a hot day, Kitch-iti-kipi (The Big Spring) is an ideal place to spend the day enjoying the view and soaking up some sunshine! -Roadtrippers
A short trail winds through beautiful white cedars so thick that it seems dark even during the day. In the middle of the cedar stand is a 200 foot wide pool of emerald colored water.
Kitch-iti-kipi was supposedly a young chieftain whose girl fiend got the best of him. He told her he loved her far above the other dark-haired maidens dancing near his birch bark wigwam. "Prove it," she insisted. As a test of his devotion, she declared that he must set sail in his canoe on the pool deep in the conifer swamp. He was to catch her from his canoe as she leaped from an overhanging bough. According to legend - probably from the pen of Bellaire's poet friend - the Spring was named Kitch-iti-kipi in memory of the young cheiftain who went to his death in the icy waters in an attempt to satisfy the vain caprice of his ladylove.
“take in this breathtaking legend”
I'll admit I was skeptical as to how awesome this place was.. When you arrive you park in the lot and walk through a short path and at first all you see is a small lake. Once you get to the edge you will realize that its not just a small lake. Its a massive spring with the clearest water I have ever seen!
There is a small raft with a wheel to pull you across. YOU HAVE TO DO THIS! you can look through the bottom and over the edges and see hundreds of fish swimming around and where the spring water comes up!
Stunning and well worth the trip! Try to get a campsite on the nearby Indian Lake. Some of the most pristine water I have ever seen!
So cool! Beautiful and magical to see and the air smells amazingly fresh. Big fish and clear water. Easy to get to for any age with restrooms, swings, grills and picnic tables.
Beautiful & amazing place. But remember this is a Michigan State Park, so it's not free & you do need a recreation passport or a daily pass to visit if the both is being tended!!! Offseason it's an honor system! So worth it though!!!
Camping nearby at on of the private campgrounds is CHEAP, 2014 rates were $24 for full hook up, cable tv & wifi!!!!
I go every time I make it to manstique love it there
This was a beautiful and quite location. A lot smaller than anticipated. Four stars only because we had to pay to park and there weren't any additional trails or anything, just a gift shop and the spring. The ranger was nice enough and the people there were respectful of the beautiful springs. Great photo op.
This was my favorite part of our week touring UP attractions and parks. My 7 year old son had a blast moving the raft. The lake is amazingly beautiful. We visited mid-June and are planning the 500 mile trip to come back this fall.
This was a really cool place to stop at! Although the actual place is free, you have to pay $9 for your car to gain admission into the state park, which does allow you access to all of Michigan's state parks for one day. It was a lot more crowded than I thought it would be, but definitely cool to see the super clear water bubble up from the bottom of the spring. There are also bathrooms and a tourist shop where you can buy souvenirs and food.
So glad we included this on our UP road trip July, 2015! We had no idea what to expect and thought we'd probably be the only ones there. It wasn't crowded, but because of the adjoining campground, there were more people than we thought would be there. Beautiful, peaceful area providing great photo opps. The kids on the raft really enjoyed manning the wheel to pull us across the lake.
The colors on and surrounding the lake were beautiful and seeing the sand bubbling up from the 40 foot depth was amazing. Reminded us of a mini portion of Yellowstone.
If your planning an excursion to the UP, it's well worth a trip to this State Park. A unique experience.
One of the seven wonders of the U.P., joining Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks, and well worth the 10 mile detour off Hwy. 2 for a visit! The pool feels secluded, nestled in the cedar woods, and is gorgeously reflective from the shore, and from the amazing cable raft, you can look down, down, down through crystal depths to where the sand seems to boil on the floor of the 45 ft. deep pool. Amazing to see the shadows of the fish on the bottom and ancient logs submerged along the shore.
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Kitch-Iti-Kipi (Big Springs)
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Not Wheelchair Accessible