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Michigan dnr > wildlife viewing guide > upper peninsula > menominee

22 Menominee River/Piers Gorge Upper Peninsula

wildlife viewing  |  directions and facility information

aeiral view of dam
Photo: We Energies

The Menominee River is a border river separating Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin. It is formed by the confluence of the Brule and Michigamme Rivers. The 100-mile stretch of the Menominee River from above Iron Mountain to Menominee provides a beautiful setting for wildlife watching. It is best experienced by canoe or kayak. There are over 100 tributaries that enter the Menominee River in this 100-mile stretch. The shoreline and river corridor is very wild and scenic with multiple ownerships including private, corporate, and state and county governments. Large blocks of the shoreline and adjacent uplands are owned by We Energies and timber companies such as International Paper, plus the Michigan and the Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources, and county governments in Wisconsin. Numerous campgrounds and boat access points along the river cater to wildlife watchers with canoes. There are nine hydroelectric power dams and reservoirs on the river; each has a portage for small boats.

aerial view of dam
Photo: We Energies

We Energies (Wisconsin Electric) owns 40,000 acres in the river corridor and is the largest recreational developer. We Energies has an extensive "Wilderness Shores" recreation program with many recreation areas with boat launching sites and wilderness campground facilities. They have produced a series of six detailed river maps highlighting these areas and natural features in the Menominee River watershed. These maps are available from area outfitters. One of the most scenic and popular natural attractions in the river corridor is Piers Gorge. It contains some of the fastest-moving water in Michigan and Wisconsin. It is not navigable for general canoeing (class IV to V white water), but still offers beautiful scenery and good wildlife viewing from shore. It has become one of the more popular destinations for expert class kayakers in the eastern U.S. An undeveloped foot trail parallels the gorge for ½ to 3/4 of a mile.

Wildlife Viewing

This beautiful Menominee River corridor offers excellent bald eagle viewing opportunities. Eagles are commonly seen all along the river, roosting in tall trees, fishing in the shallow water, or soaring high overhead. This stretch of river also boasts several eagle nests in tall trees right along the shoreline. (Do not disturb or harass nesting eagles). In addition to the eagles, ospreys, common loons, and waterfowl are frequent sightings on this exciting float. Piers Gorge is a very scenic, fast-moving stretch of the river near Norway, Michigan, and shoreline trails offer good viewing opportunities for eagles, osprey, and waterfowl. We Energies and International Paper own the shoreline at Piers Gorge and they encourage public use. We Energies’ canoe trail brochures and their Wilderness Shores pamphlets offer excellent, detailed maps for locating entry points by motor vehicle.

The river currents at piers gorge are very strong. Do not wade or swim. Keep small children and pets away from the water.


The 100 mile river corridor has many access points. These are shown on recreational pamphlets produced the We Energies, a major landowner on the river (canoe trail maps are available from area outfitters for a nominal fee; "Wilderness Shores" pamphlets are free from We Energies), or the Michigan and Wisconsin DNR. Piers Gorge: From Norway, drive south on US-8 about 2 miles and follow the signs to Piers Gorge. The road ends at a parking lot at the gorge.

Ownership: Largest: We Energies (906) 779-2546, International Paper (906) 779-3271, Michigan DNR and, Wisconsin DNR, Marinette and Florence counties in Wisconsin; some private in-holdings..

Size: 100 river miles

Closest Towns: Michigan – Crystal Falls, Iron Mountain, Menominee, Norway; Wisconsin – Florence, Niagara, and Marinette.

Weather and Driving Directions for Crystal Falls

Plan Your Trip with travel.michigan.org!

More information can be found by visiting the DNR's site (link leads to web app allowing users to search for campgrounds, harbors, trails and more), or by conducting a Google search:


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