When my children were young one of their favorite fall rites was a visit (or two!) to the Grand Rapids Fish Ladder Park located on the banks of the Grand River which runs through the City of Grand Rapids, MI.
The river runs through the state for many miles and eventually reaches Lake Michigan. Within the city limits it provides many spots of scenic beauty and is intersected by a number of picturesque bridges. Near the center of the city the river has a dam which creates an area of swirling waters and rapids and great fishing throughout the year. Rarely can I travel past when I don't see a hardy fisherman or two along the shoreline or in waders out on the river.
The river is home to trout and salmon who each spring make the trip down river to Lake Michigan. In the fall they reverse the trip and the salmon swim back upstream to spawn and lay their eggs. Often river levels are high, the currents are strWhen my children were young one of their favorite fall rites was a visit (or two!) to the Grand Rapids Fish Ladder Park ong and there are many obstacles to conquer. One is the dam in Grand Rapids and the fish are frequently too tired to swim against the current and over the dam.
In 1974 the Grand River Sculpture and Fish Ladder was dedicated having been designed by Joseph Kinnebrew early in his career. The idea of a fish ladder or fish steps is to enable the fish to go around the dam by swimming into the ladder and jumping the steps until they reach the river level above the dam. This concept was further enhanced by Kinnebrew when he had the idea to create a superstructure above the steps from which the observer can view the action below.
It's always fascinating to view the action on a busy day. Fisherman will be casting from shore, boats or the river below the dam. The salmon can be seen in the various step levels (they are big and colorful!) and they will often clear the water as they leap from one level to another. It is common to hear audible cheers from the crowd when a fish is successful.
The views on a fall sunny day are delightful as you look across the river at the city of Grand Rapids. Right now there are lots of cranes working on the medical facilities, VanAndel Institute, and the Michigan State Univ. Medical School facility. A walkway along both sides of the river allows pedestrians to stroll the riverbank and enjoy the views. A bit further to the south the DeVos Convention Center, Amway Grand Hotel, JW Marriott, Plaza Towers and Grand Valley State University buildings all are in view.
Take some time, refresh your soul, enjoy a sunny afternoon along the river where the fish really can climb ladders!