Located 12 miles outside the city of Manistique in Palms Book State Park, Kitch-iti-kipi or the “Big Spring” is a vibrant freshwater limestone spring for you to enjoy.
The spring measures about 200 feet in width and is around 40 feet deep, but the water is so clear that you can easily see to the bottom. These dimensions make it the largest freshwater spring in Michigan!
Kitch-iti-kipi translates to “big cold spring” in Ojibwe, fitting because the water remains 45 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The water temperature preserves the fallen trees, creating a time capsule of sorts at the bottom.
The water in the spring is continually exchanged, and that’s how the temperature remains so constant. Around 10,000 gallons of water per minute creep in from the cracks in the limestone below!
How much does it cost to visit?
Kitch-iti-kipi is located in Palms Book State Park, and as with other Michigan State Parks, there is an entrance fee. The fees are paid at the entrance to the parking lots and are per car.
For residents of Michigan, the price of an annual pass is $13 when purchased when renewing your license plate registration or $18 when purchased at a state park or customer service location in 2023.
For non-residents, both day passes and annual passes are an option. In 2023, the fee for daily visits is $11, and annual passes could be purchased for $39.
If you plan to visit any state parks in Michigan on more than 3 days during the year, the annual pass would save you some cash!
When can you visit Kitch-iti-kipi?
Palm Brook State Park is open year-round for day use. With the spring’s constant temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you can visit any time of year and still experience the brilliant turquoise waters. It never freezes!
Park hours according to the Michigan DNR website are 8 am to 10 pm daily.
Can you swim or fish in Kitch-iti-kipi?
The short answer is NO! The spring is owned and protected by the state of Michigan, so swimming and fishing are both illegal here.
Swimming would be quite an experience and something we wouldn’t even think about in that water temperature! 45 degrees, remember?
You might be a little more upset about the no-fishing rule, though; some of the trout swimming around these waters are trophies!
So, what can you do here?
Just a short walk from the parking lot, you will find an ADA-friendly pathway leading to the spring and a raft.
The large raft with a glass-bottom center will take you out to the center of the spring. The raft is propelled along guide cables by turning a giant wheel, so bring your muscles or a few friends to take turns!
The raft is on a guideline. There is a stop in the center, so you can relax and appreciate the views for a short time before beginning the return trip to the dock.
Picnic areas and restroom facilities are also available here. A shop with souvenirs and necessities is typically open from late spring to early fall.
Is the park pet-friendly?
Yes! Well-mannered dogs must be kept on a leash here, but are able to explore right alongside you. A few dogs rode out on the raft with us, and they seemed fascinated with the ride and the fish swimming below.
What else is there to do near Kitch-iti-kipi?
We would consider Kitch-iti-kipi a quick stop on a road trip around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or a side trip from nearby areas. About an hour was enough time to appreciate the spring. Here are a few ideas close by (within 15-20 minute drives) if you want to make a day of it:
Indian Lake State Park
While there is no swimming, boating, or camping at Palms Book State Park, nearby Indian Lake is quite the opposite. As one of Michigan’s largest inland lakes, there is plenty of room here for boating, swimming, and hiking. There are also campsites with hookups for RVs, facilities, and primitive spots, depending on your preference.
Thompson State Fish Hatchery
Check out a location where fish, including steelhead and walleye, are raised to stock many fishing locations in the state. Open daily from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm for self-guided tours where you can learn more about the processes of the hatchery.
Manistique Boardwalk & Riverwalk
Enjoy a 2-mile walk along the shores of Lake Michigan on this paved and wooden walk. Signs posted along the way do provide some information about the area, but the real draws are the beautiful sunrises and sunsets!
Proximity to other UP Draws
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: 1 hr/50 miles
- Marquette: 1 hr 30 min/88 miles
- Mackinac Bridge: 1 hr 40 min/100 miles
- Tahquamenon Falls State Park: 1 hr 45 min/97 miles
- Whitefish Point: 2 hr 10 min/120 miles
- Porcupine Mountains: 4 hrs/220 miles
- Copper Harbor: 4 hr 15 min/232 miles
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a great road trip destination, and Kitch-iti-kipi is a great spot to get out and stretch your legs for a bit! The beautiful, vibrant colors and natural beauty are worth a stop.
Some of the best spots and things to do as you continue on your Michigan Upper Peninsula road trip include:
Check out the “root beer falls” at Tahquamenon Falls State Park to the northeast of Kitch-iti-kipi.
From Tahquamenon Falls, travel to Pictured Rocks. There are outdoor adventures galore from kayaking to hiking to diving in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Hop on one of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Cruises to get different views of the colorful cliffs and rock formations.
Although Kitch-iti-kipi is a fairly quick stop compared to other spots in the Upper Peninsula