Root Beer Water

If you have explored rivers and lakes along the North Shore you’ve probably noticed that the water is the color of root beer. Why? Well, most people think it’s caused by water containing large amounts of silt. However, the actual reason is that North Shore rivers, especially when the water is low, carry tannins from swamps and decaying vegetation that keeps its color an amber-brown.
One example of this weird phenomenon can be seen in Cascade River State Park. Many spectators have grown to believe the brown water is a result of how fast the water rushes, bringing mud from the bottom of the river with it. With how fast the water rushes down the Cascades, it’s hard to believe that it’s really just sediment being carried along!
Many other bodies of water around the world are also root beer colored. For example, our very own Lake Superior sometimes seems reddish-brown. This happens when strong winds or rains launch red clay particles and other sediments into the water. The sediments don’t cause any harm, although we imagine it does give spectators an uneasy feeling as they’re used to that cool-blue water that the lake is known for.