Dead - Tourist Park Falls: CR 550 Bridge (0.3 miles)

Dead, Michigan, US


Tourist Park Falls: CR 550 Bridge (0.3 miles)

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 0.3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 60 fpm
Max Gradient 60 fpm

Giant Slide

Giant Slide
Photo of J. Cowell @ 350

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04044003 6.40 - 10.00 ft III-IV 01h19m 6.1 ft (too low)
Minimal (summertime-type) flows. As of Dec.2016, new gauge at this location (drainage 163 sq.mi.) does not include cfs conversion. Hopefully to be added once they have enough readings.

River Description

A flood (May 2003) caused the river to bypass around a dam creating around a thirty foot drop in about a third of a mile. The run is easy to access, as it runs underneath the CR 550 bridge in Marquette. Just park and carry up to the top.

NOTE: Per comment below, the drop as described (and shown in video) no longer exists, as the dam has been restored to operational. As times when flow exceeds plant needs/capacity, a different opportunity may exist in the overflow channel.

We leave this description only for historic reference:
The run starts with Tourist Park falls, a twenty-ish foot drop. Many lines exist. The easiest involves an approach from far river left. A large tongue exists in the middle of a monster hydraulic. This will rocket you down the final slide and into an eddy which is really more of a whirlpool. The "whirlpool" will most likely take you straight into the hydraulic on river right, so paddle hard if you want to avoid it. The rest of the run is a very easy class II-III jaunt (depending on water levels). Many opportunities for play exist (although at any level under 500 cfs the run is fairly shallow and could punish rolls and/or swims).

Overall, this is a great park and huck/ park and play section. It can be easily combined with a run on the Upper Dead, Marquette Carp, Yellow Dog, or other local runs.

Enjoy the following video which starts with just more than a minute of runs of this area before (at 1:10) transitioning into runs of various falls on the Upper Reach of the Dead.

The resolution on Google Maps for this area is excellent. Therefore, we highly recommended going to the 'Map' tab, clicking 'Satellite', zooming in to the maximum resolution available (without losing image), to have a fine 'virtual look' at this reach!

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-03-01 01:25:28

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Drainage: 160 sq.mi.N/A

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage: 160 sq.mi. (Class N/A)

(Based on personal measurement via online planimeter and topomaps.)

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 4 2016 (383 days ago)
Ryan FranchiDetails
These falls no longer exist. The formerly destroyed dam was replaced years ago, and the falls are
now a dry section of exposed bedrock, though there is a short run of whitewater looking like class
III-IV rapids immediately downstream of Tourist Park Dam spillway.
June 22 2005 (4383 days ago)
Adam HicksDetails
Although the best levels to run this stretch are over 300 (and the most entertaining) it is
boatable well below with accomodating flows as low as 80 CFS. A word of caution, however, that when
the flow is low enough the giant slide is a very difficult accomplishment. Due to the sloping
nature of the rock without sufficient speed at a river left angle gravity will pull your boat down
and river right into a large rock pourover. While scary, the rock serves as a "ski jump"
and effectively auto-boofs your boat. I do not recommend trying to attain this line in higher
water, but when it's an inevitability in flows as low as 85 and less it can be a really fun

Also, there has recently been some clearing work done on the far river right turbulent step down
falls and with a hundred or so CFS might yield some interesting new lines. As of now these falls
get run quite a bit by myself and at least one other boater in the area.

Though the falls proper are massively enjoyable at lower levels, and far less punishing than your
typical low level hydraulic due both the deepness of the pool and the less than frightening force I
don't recommend getting stuck directly in the hydraulic as it could end quite painfully. However
with the lower levels it's quite easy to punch through the hole. Lastly, in lower level flows about
the only worthwhile features are the falls and I don't recommend even trying to boat about the
stretch of river underneath the bridges in a flow any lower than 80 CFS. Even as low as 90 there
are a few small waves and other features that can yield some interesting, albeit tiny, play
options, and, as I mentioned, the falls are always fun.

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