Kitch-iti-kipi: Michigan’s Big Spring or Mirror of Heaven?
The word is out about Kitch-iti-Kipi, Michigan’s “Big Spring,” located in the Upper Peninsula, near Manistique MI.
This brilliant, emerald green freshwater spring is pure Michigan beauty at it’s most stunning. More than 40 feet deep and 200 feet across, thewater so crystal clear that you can actually see all the way to bottom.
The best part? You can take a clear-bottom, hand-operated raft across the pond to peer into the water below. Imagine catching a glimpse of big lake trout as they congregate at spring’s limestone bottom to search for food. It’s so much fun!
Whether you call it Kitch iti Kipi, the Big Spring or even the “Mirror of Heaven,” the name given to it by native Ojibwe, you’ll agree that it’s a true wonder of nature.
Read on to learn more about Kitch iti kipi, the Big Spring. If you’re exploring the north, use our guide to plan your trip to this popular Michigan travel spot!
Ride a See-through Raft Across Kitch-iti-Kipi, The Big Spring
Kitch-iti-kipi is a top Michigan travel destination and the Upper Peninsula’s major tourist attraction. More than 260,000 people visit the park annually, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and it’s easy to see why.
Set inside Palms Book State Park in Schoolcraft County, you’ll love the raft ride on the hand-operated viewing raft that allows you to traverse natural spring while you watch the water bubble up from fissured in the underlying limestone.
From your spot on this observation raft, you’ll glide across the icy waters of the spring, taking in the stunning natural beauty of the water and the pristine forest setting. You’ll see the fish as they swim among submerged cedar logs. The logs, preserved by both minerals and the water’s constantly-cold 45 degree temperature, seem like they’ve been there since the beginning of time.
It’s a magical place, and you’ll want to bring your camera when you visit this special place in Michigan’s upper peninsula.
Where Is Kitch-iti-Kipi?
What IS Kitch-iti-kipi?
History of Kitch iti Kipi
Kitch-iti-kipi is Michigan’s largest natural freshwater spring, and it’s located in Palms Book State Park, now a public park for all to visit.
It wasn’t always that way. Once used as a dump of lumber, Kitch-iti-Kipi was discover by Manistique businessman John Bellaire in the 1920’s. Bellaire saw through the decaying logs to the natural beuty below, and convinced the owner of the property, Frank Palms of the Palms Book Land Company, to sell the state of Michigan. The land becase the Palms Book State Park, and in 2003, a self-operating obersvation raft was constructed to allow a peek into this stocked pond.
The Big Spring is mesmerizing, characterized by it’s bright, emerald color that gives it an almost other-worldly look.
Set deep in the wilderness of the U.P., approximately 10,000 gallons of water per minute gush up from small cracks in limestone lining the bottom of the spring.
Connected to nearby Indian Lake by an underground aquifer, the water in the spring is a constant temperature of 45-degree fahrenheit year-round…brrrr.
Explore Kitch-iti-kipi and the Surrounding Area
The best part about a visit to the bubbling springs is the hand-operated observation raft with a viewing window that gives passengers a perfect look at the fast-flowing spring and aquatic life below. Watch through the viewing window or over the side and see trout and age-old tree trunk and limbs as you cross the crystal-clear water.
Kitch-iti-Kipi is open year-round, and it’s a beautiful spot to see some brilliant Michigan fall colors. In the winter, you can visit as the water maintains its 45-degree temperature and does not freeze over. Spring in Michigan’s upper peninsula is beautiful, too. There’s not as many tourists in the spring, so you can spend more time taking in the stunning natural setting.
Day Trip to Kitch-iti-Kipi
Located just an hour from Lake Superior, Kitch-iti-Kipi is a great day trip from many popular travel destinations in the U.P., and the lower peninsula, too.
- From Tahquemon Falls – just two hours southwest
- From Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – just an hour south
- From Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island – just two hours west along Lake Michigan’s northern coastline
- From Ann Arbor – five and a hours north
- From Grand Rapids – five hours north
Be sure to visit the Manistique tourism bureau, where you can learn about the fascinating legends of Kitchitikipi and the rich native American history of the area.
IF YOU GO:
Accomodations near Kitch-iti-Kipi are limited but we’ve stayed the Comfort Inn in Manistique about 20 minutes away. The rooms a repretty large and it’s very clean. There’s a cute wooden train out front some good Instagram pix, too! The Quality Inn in Manistique is a good choice, too. It’s a convenient location, right off the highway, and it’s very clean and comfy. There’s free brekfast and a nice workout room, too.
If you’re staying in the are for a while or want a more “woodsy” feel, try this Lakefront Cabin about 10 minutes northwest of Kitch-iti-Kipi on Gooseneck Lake. You’ll find two beds, a bath and comfortable kitchen as well as a living area. I loved the wide coverered porch and little deck overlooking the lake. It’s so picturesque, especially in the fall, when you can see the pretty folliage lining the lake.
Kitch-iti-Kipi Frequently Asked Questions
NO, you can’t fish at Kitch-iti-Kipi. There are, however, nearby bodies of water nearby which offer excellent opportunities for fishing, including both Indian Lake and Lake Michigan.
Since Kitch-iti-kipi is located in Michigan State Park, you will need a State of Michigan Recreation Passport to visit the springs.
No, you cannot swim in Kitch-iti-kipi. However, Indian Lake State Park is located nearby. It is located n the shores of Indian Lake, the fourth largest inland lake in the state and features a nice swimming beach.
Kitch-iti-kipi is approxmately 40 feet deep
More to Do in Manistique Michigan: Local Adventures
Plan on spending some time exploring Manistique, just 15 minutes away from the springs in the central part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
It’s a fun spot to visit in Michigan: you’ll find much to do in this town, from checking out a historical park, or a hiking trail that takes in the picturesque views of Lake Michigan’s northern shore.
Don’t miss Fayette Historic State Park, a museum village that celebrates the town’s iron- smelting heritage. Also stop by the Mackinaw Trail Winery and Tasting Room for a glass of Michigan wine on the waterfront.
As the largest city near Kitch-iti-kipi, you’ll find a wide variety of accommodations, as well as restaurants to explore.
Tuesday 2nd of August 2022
Wondering if it's allowed to hold a small wedding on the raft? Totally dreamy!
My Michigan Beach Team
Friday 5th of August 2022
Hi Mellissa! Thanks for reaching out. That sounds very ambitious...you might want to check with Palms Book State Park, where the Big Spring is located. Good Luck!
Tuesday 26th of July 2022
My wife is just getting a 'all terrain' wheelchair. All things being equal, will we be able to make it to the spring with the chair?
My Michigan Beach Team
Friday 5th of August 2022
Hi Mike, The spring is ADA accessble. There is a walkway to the spring and the raft is ADA accessible as well. Have a great trip - it is a beautiful place!
Sunday 17th of July 2022
Looking for the hours on kitch iti kipi
My Michigan Beach Team
Wednesday 20th of July 2022
Hi Carol, thanks so much for reaching out. Palms Book State Park, home to Kitch-iti-Kipi, open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Have a great time at this beautiful spot in the Uppper Peninsula!