Within the United States, it is true that there are countless areas of natural beauty – all of which have something different to offer those with an eye for adventure, and an adventurous spirit.
However, there are few places as beautiful as Kitch-Iti-Kipi – a natural phenomenon that draws travelers from all over the country.
But what exactly is Kitch-Iti-Kipi, and where can it be found?
What Is Kitch-Iti-Kipi?
Located in Palms Book State Park, Michigan, Kitch-Iti-Kipi – or “Big Cold Spring” in the indigenous Ojibwe language – is a freshwater spring, and the largest one in the state of Michigan.
Sometimes referred to as the Big Spring – as well as the “Mirror of Heaven” – it was initially given this name by the Ojibwe people, who lived in the lands for thousands of years prior to European settlement of the region.
It is one of the largest tourist attractions within the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and draws travelers and nature lovers from all over the world – each of them looking to experience the Big Spring firsthand, and bathe in the breathtaking presence of this natural wonder.
How Deep Is Kitch-Iti-Kipi?
The Big Spring is just that: big. In fact, the lowest point of the pool is around 40 feet deep – which is quite deep when you consider the deep end of the swimming pool is usually around 12 feet.
In terms of the spring’s elevation, it is located 620 feet above sea level, which roughly equates to 12.2 meters.
Where Is It Located?
As mentioned, Kitch-Iti-Kipi is located in the state of Michigan – specifically in the Thompson Township, located within Schoolcraft County, itself located just north of the city of Manistique.
The state of Michigan was awarded the stream and the surrounding land in 1926 – under the specific condition that it be transformed into a national park that all citizens and countrymen could enjoy freely.
Since then, the state of Michigan has acquired the surrounding woodland and land, expanding the park drastically since its early days, and turning it into one of the state’s best loved tourist attractions.
Kitch-Iti-Kipi: A History
Modern history of the region states that the area was first noticed by John I. Bellaire – the owner of a five and dime store in the nearby Manistique – who encountered the spring when he was hiking through the woods.
Instead of purchasing the land himself, he convinced the (then) current owner, Frank Palms (of Palms Book Land Company) to sell the spring (as well as 90 acres of land) to the state for $10.
This came with certain conditions, which stated that the area must remain a state park that everyone could enjoy, and that it must bear the name Palms Book State Park.
Prior to European settlement of the area, the land was the ancestral home of the Ojibwe people, who revered the area as a place of spiritual and cultural importance.
While there are several notable tales from Native American folklore attributed to the site, it has long been thought that Bellaire himself made them up to create a sense of mystery and grandeur to the area.
However, these legends persist in the area, with the most prominent one telling of the area’s young chieftain (Kitch-Iti-Kipi), who was tasked with proving his love to the woman of his desires.
The test required the chieftain to sail his canoe up the dense channel, where he would catch her as she lept from a nearby branch.
However, things would go awry, and his fragile canoe would topple, drowning him while the object of his affections was back at camp with others, mocking him for his gullible nature.
Other legends state that parents would come to the water seeking recommendations for their children’s names, with answers such as Satu (“darling”), Kakushika (“big eye”), Natukoro (“lovely flower”), and We-Shi (“little fish”) being heard in the ripples of the water.
Other legends state that the water has both healing qualities, as well as alchemical properties – with stories claiming that those who ground the bark from the nearby tamarack trees into a fine powder and placed it in their pockets, would have the bark replaced with gold dust when they stepped into the water.
The Best Activities Around Kitch-Iti-Kipi
Of course, there are also numerous activities that can be taken part in at Kitch-Iti-Kipi that keep people coming back year after year.
One of the main appealing factors of the area is the famed viewing raft, which guests can take across the lake and use to look at the spring below the water line.
This is done by the use of a glass bottom, which allows guests to not only see the varieties of fish in the spring, but also the spring water vents themselves, which disrupt the gray dolomite on the bed, causing clouds to occur under the water.
The Big Spring is also the home to numerous species of fish – including brown trout, lake trout, and brook trout – and these can all be seen both through the glass bottom of the viewing raft, and from the shoreline, due to the sheer clarity of the water.
For the good of the fish, and the continued communal nature of the park, fishing and swimming are not allowed in the water, as these could both contaminate and harm the natural ecosystem of Kitch-Iti-Kipi.
There are also numerous hiking trails located all around the area, allowing this with the means and the inclination to take in the natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes.
These are perfect for people of all ages and skill levels, and can be a great way for people to take in the area surrounding the famed spring.
Do You Need To Pay To Get In?
Unfortunately, as with most things in modern times, there is a specific fee that guests are required to pay if they want to enter the park – at least if they do not have the required Michigan Recreation Passport.
How Much Does It Cost?
Those who do not have the Michigan Recreation Passport will be required to pay $34 for an annual pass, or $9 per person for a day pass.
For Michigan locals, the Michigan Recreation Pass is $17 dollars for the year, or $12 dollars if purchased alongside a license plate renewal.
What Does The Pass Grant You?
Those who are exploring the area for a while might benefit from the Michigan Recreation Pass, which works out cheaper to buy the annual package – allowing guests to experience all that the state park has to offer, as well as the numerous recreation areas too.
What Are The Business Hours?
While it might seem strange for a state park to have operating hours, the Palms Book State Park actually does operate this way.
Those looking to experience the state park for themselves will have to do so between the hours of 8am and 10pm – times that remain the same all throughout the year.
The park can be accessed anytime during operating hours, and even during the colder months the teal colored water is able to be viewed – something that is possible due to the constant flow of fresh water, which means that the water can never freeze, even during the coldest months.
What Is The Best Time To Arrive?
Due to the crowds of people that flock to the park everyday, it is recommended that guests do not arrive after 10am – otherwise they risk not being able to get in and experience the park.
How Long Does It Take?
Despite being a great natural wonder, it doesn’t take all that long to explore, and in fact most guests are completely finished within 1-2 hours.
This makes it a great place for families to fill their morning, and gives people of all ages something to do with their time.
When Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit?
As you might expect, the park goes through various stages of busyness throughout the year – with the coldest months being the quietest, and the hottest parts of the summer being the most hectic.
As such, spring and fall are usually the sweet spots for those looking to come and explore without having to experience long lines and crowds of people.
However, those who arrive within plenty of time should have no problem getting into the raft and experiencing the spring in no time at all. Remember, the early bird gets the worm!
Can You Camp Nearby?
Due to the remote nature of the area, most people tend to try and camp or stay at a hotel nearby – both of which are more than catered for within the surrounding area.
However, those who want the experience of nature, but without the 24/7 exposure to it, can find many hotels within the nearby city of Manistique.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about Kitch-Iti-Kipi, and the must know information that any would-be explorer needs before their visit.
It’s true that, within the framework of the United States, there are numerous places of natural beauty that are worth seeing – including mountains, forests, national parks, and rivers.
However, there are few as beautiful as the Big Spring itself – which continues to be a draw for tourists and Michigan natives alike.
So if you are headed to Kitch-Iti-Kipi, then be sure to follow this handy guide. Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!
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