Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a beautiful park called Presque Isle Park! One of the most beautiful spots you’ll ever see, this park features impressive cliffs that line the shores of Lake Superior. On a warm, clear day, what better place is there to partake in exciting cliff jumping than right here at Presque Isle Park?
A Little About Presque Isle Park
Presque Isle Park is located on a peninsula that extends out into Lake Superior in Marquette, MI. The park itself spans 323 acres and includes lush forest area as well as beautiful beaches. In this park you’ll find activities such as hiking and biking the trails, plenty of picnic areas, a playground, and of course, the Black Rocks for ultimate cliff jumping!
Black Rocks of Presque Isle Park
Standing 20 to 30 feet above the water you'll see gorgeous granite cliffs known as the Black Rocks. These cliffs are what remain after the glaciers dug the Great Lakes out so many years ago. To this day, many people flock to the Black Rocks to peer down at the beautiful waters, and for many, they can't resist jumping in despite the frigid temperature of the water below! Even during the summer months, the waters of Lake Superior never really reach a "warm" temperature given its massive size and depth. But if you’re up for a thrilling adventure, this is one destination you must add to your list! In fact, cliff jumping from these rocks is a right of passage for many of the locals, especially those who attend Northern Michigan University! But before you go, you should know some basics about the sport of cliff jumping.
Cliff Jumping Basics
Before you take the plunge you need to know that cliff jumping can be dangerous. If you have never done it before, it’s best to go with someone who is experienced. Mistakes can be deadly, so don't jump in without knowing the risks. Here are some things you’ll want to know before you dive in!
What To Wear
While there’s no equipment necessary for cliff jumping, you’ll still want to consider a few things when choosing what to wear. Ladies, you may want to plan on wearing a one-piece swimsuit! The force at which you hit the water is likely to take any loose piece of clothing right off of you.
Remove jewelry before jumping, especially necklaces and other things that can fall off or wrap around your neck easily. Losing something expensive or special to you is bad enough, but having it twist and tighten around your neck as you try to reach the surface of the water isn’t something that’s going to make the jumping experience fun.
Before You Dive
Check out the area below before you dive. You want to ensure that the water is deep enough and that there are no hidden rocks in the water or sticks hanging out off the cliff. These can pose a serious threat. Also, try to determine the depth of the water below. If it's too shallow, you can badly hurt yourself by hitting the bottom. If it's too deep, you may plunge too far down and it'll be hard to get back up to the surface before you run out of air. We’ll talk more about preventing the latter below.
Check the conditions of the water next, especially at Presque Isle Park. Lake Superior can often become rough and unforgiving. Never jump if the waters are really rough. Even the most experienced swimmers can succumb to unfavorable conditions in a lake of this size and magnitude.
Lastly, evaluate the height of the cliff. At Presque Isle Park, the cliffs are generally around 20 to 30 feet high. Start on the lower cliffs and work your way up. If you’re planning a jump anywhere else, don’t take on anything over 65.5 feet high unless you’re a professional, as stated by the World High Diving Federation.
Hitting the Water
If you’ve ever belly flopped into a pool, you know how painful it can be. Now imagine the pain from falling 20 to 30 feet in the air. Ouch! Ensure on your way off the cliff and down through the air that you’re hitting the water in a position that will help you plunge into the water and won’t create painful resistance as you slap the surface. Feet first is the easiest way to go. The worst you may end up with is a wedgie. If you’re good at diving in general you can try to hit head first to save yourself from the uncomfortable creep of your swimsuit, however you may find that if your suit isn't tight enough, you may lose it. So fellas who like to wear loose bottoms, tighten them up if you plan to dive in head first.
Now that you know a few good ways to hit the water, you need to take precautions to make sure you can get back up to the surface in time if the water is really deep. As you plunge into the water, put your arms and legs out to help slow you down. This will keep you from going too deep. If you keep your body in a perfectly straight line, you may find yourself struggling to make it all the way back up. You need to create some resistance with your arms and legs to keep you from heading down too far.
Waiting Your Turn
This may seem silly to even say, but make sure to wait your turn. The person who goes before you needs to be out of the way before you jump! If you jump before the person has surfaced or moved toward land, you can both end up injured in the water, which can lead to drowning.
Never Go Alone
Even if you’ve gone cliff jumping plenty of times, you should never do it alone. Since this is a dangerous sport, you need someone else present in case of an emergency. Due to the plunge into the water, if you become unconscious or are unable to swim due to an injury, you’ll need help!
As long as you stay safe, cliff diving can be extremely fun. Presque Isle Park is a perfect place to take the plunge whether you’re a beginner or an experienced jumper. So gather your friends and head to the UP for some ultimate cliff jumping fun!