Skip navigation

Category Archives: Bonanza Falls

We headed out early in the morning to catch the sunrise at Bonanza Falls. As I mentioned in an earlier blog there was more water than normal flowing over the falls. What really makes Bonanza falls so interesting is the large number of small waterfalls that can be found flowing over the upturned rock formations.



After taking a few photographs before the sun came up we decided to find the fisherman’s trail along the river and look for some some more waterfalls before the sun reached the far shore. Overnight we had a chance to read the Waterfalls of Michigan by Phil Stagg and he indicated there were a few more falls to be found. We had visited Bonanza Falls many time but had never walked down stream. A side benefit of walking down the fisherman’s trail was finding an easier way to reach the river. In the past we had climbed down the steep embankment but it had become more difficult over time. We did find a couple of nice waterfalls.



The sun was starting to hit the far shore so we walked back to the main falls area for a few last photographs.





After getting a bite to eat we drove out to Bonanza Falls to photograph at sunset. As I had mentioned in earlier blogs there was a lot of water flowing in the rivers. Bonanza Falls also had more water than normal. Generally I like less as opposed to more water flowing because it provides more opportunities for intimate shots of the waterfalls.






On our recent trip to the UP of Michigan we spent some time photographing at Bonanza Falls. The fall colors were spectacular but the water levels in the falls were very low so the waterfalls were not that interesting.

More photos of Bonanza Falls can be found on my website.









We were up early the next morning. It had been blowing all night and we could hear the large waves hitting the beach. We drove down to Union Bay to photograph the waves. They were so high that they were coming over the road in a few places.

Union Bay Porcupine Mountains 15-10-_1081

Since we had already driven through the park a number of times we decided to drive out past Bonanza Falls to capture a few photos of the falls in the morning light with the clouds in the background.


Our next stop was Superior Falls just outside of Hurley Wisconsin. I was hoping the water levels were low enough so I could walk around a rocky point and get a straight on shot of the falls from the bottom. Unfortunately the water levels were too high. There were a number of other photographers there and one of them climbed over the rocks to get the shot but I’m getting to old for that. This is a photo of the mouth of the river.


It was getting late in the morning so we decided to drive over to Cornucopia, Wisconsin and have lunch. We made a brief stop at the Cornucopia Beach. There were some nice waves so we decided to drive down to Meyers Beach and walk out above the sea caves to watch the waves.


When we arrived at Meyers Beach we were in the process of filling out the parking registration when my wife recognized the couple in the car next to us. Turns out it was one of our sons best friends and his wife. What a small world.

The hike out to the sea caves has changed since our last visit a couple of years ago. The Park Service has installed a boardwalk for the first mile of the trail. It makes it much easier to walk and I’m sure it reduces the wear and tear on the trail.

When we reached the sea caves the waves had subsided a bit but it was still a great hike on a beautiful day. We hiked back and headed for our cabin in Duluth.


This past week we took a road trip to the U.P. of Michigan. We were searching for fall colors but didn’t know where the search would lead us.
Our first night was spent in Ironwood, Michigan. The colors in the area were past peak and were mainly earth tones. When we left home the weather report indicated that we would have four beautiful days. By the time we reached Ironwood the weather report was indicating snow.

The next morning we decided to drive over to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and check out the fall color. Usually close to Lake Superior the colors turn a little later in the fall. As we drove through the Porkies we found the fall colors to be at their peak so we decided to spend our time in the Porkies.

Bonanza falls

Bonanza falls

We decided to drive over to the eastern side of the park so we could catch the morning light at Bonanza falls. As it turned out the fall colors were the best I’ve seen them. Unfortunately the drought has left the water level at Bonanza falls the lowest I’ve ever seen it.


After leaving Bonanza Falls we made a brief stop at Union Bay to photograph the high waves. This is the first time we have been at Union Bay for several years and were surprised to find that most of the beach was gone because of the high water levels in Lake Superior.


We then drove up to the Lake of the Clouds. The fall colors in the interior were spectacular although with the strong winds blowing they would not last long. We spent quite a bit of time photographing from the viewing area then started hiking along the top of the ridge toward the east end of the Lake.


We then headed back to the South Boundary Road with a stop at the Summit Peak viewing area. The trees on the way up to the viewing stand were backlit and had a beautiful yellow glow.


After hiking to the top of Summit Peak we raced back toward Ironwood and drove down to the Black Harbor which is my favorite location for taking reflection shots. I was hoping we would make it before the sun set and we did but just barely. Late in the afternoon is a great time to photograph at this location because of the late afternoon light. We closed our day photographing at Black Harbor before returning to Ironwood.Black-River-Harbor-Reflections-15-10-_2662

Most of the waterfalls in the Marquette and Munising area. It is generally easy to visit them on a short trip. The two outliers are Haven Park which is over by Calumet and Tahquamenon Falls which is near Paradise, Michigan.

Bonanza Falls is located near Silver City just outside of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. It is really several small waterfalls. If the water levels are low it is easy to walk out into the Iron River to photograph the falls. I like to photograph them late in the evening and early in the morning.


Bond Falls is my favorite waterfall in the UP. It can be photographed any time of the year and provides some excellent photography opportunities. It is particularly popular in the fall when you may need to stand in line at some locations because of their popularity.

Bond Falls

Bond Falls

Canyon Falls is located just up the road from Bond Falls. It is located on the Sturgeon River. I’ve only been able to hit the peak color along the river once but it was very impressive on that visit.

Canyon Falls

Canyon Falls

Yellow Dog Falls is located near Marquette, Michigan. It is reached on a long dirt road followed by about a mile hike to the first of the waterfalls. The drive to the falls is spectacular during the fall color season.

Yellow Dog Falls

Yellow Dog Falls

Laughing Whitefish Falls is located between Munising and Marquette. It is a very impressive waterfall when there is sufficient water flowing over the falls. Some years the dirt road into the falls is filled with large potholes.

Laughing Whitefish Falls

Laughing Whitefish Falls

Haven Park Falls is one of the outliers. It is located in Lac La Belle, Michigan. It is not all that spectacular as a waterfall but it is a beautiful location for photographing the fall colors.

Haven Park

Haven Park

Tahquamenon Falls is another outlier located near Paradise, Michigan. As a waterfall it is the largest and most spectacular. It is very popular in the fall. One day I counted cars from 16 different states in the parking lot.

Tahquamenon Falls

Tahquamenon Falls

I’ve compiled a list of my five favorite fall photography destinations. The links go to additional photos on my website.

Black River– The black river offers some great waterfall photography but my favorite location is under the bridge at the mouth of the river where I love to take reflection shots.

Black River Harbor Reflections

Black River Harbor Reflections

Bonanza Falls – Offers great color and some intimate waterfall shots

Bonanza Falls

Bonanza Falls

Bond Falls – One of my favorite waterfalls. Expect large numbers of photographers at the start of the fall colors.

Bond Falls

Bond Falls

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill – Stunning views of the Lake Superior Basin. The ride to the top is a thrill in itself.

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill

Hiawatha National Forest – A favorite location for fall photography offering a number of lakes that are best photographed at sunrise. See my Blog for more information on locations.

Thornton Lake

Thornton Lake

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Offers a wide variety of photography locations from the Lake of the Clouds, Union Bay on Lake Superior to mountain streams and waterfalls.

Lake of the Clouds

Lake of the Clouds

I was trying to decide where to head in the morning to view the sunrise. I had three or four possible locations but it looked like the sunrise would be one without clouds so I decided to visit Bonanza Falls. It turned out to be an excellent choice. When dawn came the it reflected off of the few clouds in the sky and along with the red rocks at the falls created quite a sight.




More photos from Bonanza Falls can be found on my website.

Bonanza Falls

Bonanza Falls is located just outside Silver City, Michigan on the Big Iron River.   I had driven by these wonderful little falls many times on my travels through the U.P. but had never stopped. For some reason I had it confused with another waterfall that was difficult to find. I thought I the falls could only be reached with 4WD vehicle over a few miles of rough roads.

Bonanza Falls

One morning after a visit to Lake of the Clouds, in Porcupine Wilderness State Park I had some time to kill so I decided to try and make it to Bonanza Falls. Turns out the Falls is about 150 yards off of the main road. What a surprise! I spent about an hour walking around the falls taking photographs. As I looked at the view across the Big Iron River I noticed a little color in the trees and thought this would be a great place to take some fall photographs. This photo is from a later visit in the fall.

Bonanza FallsOn a subsequent trip to the area I had planned to drive out to Union Bay to Photograph the Sunset. Unfortunately as I neared Union Bay I realized that the heavy overcast was not going to clear. I decided to stop at Bonanza Falls. The low light levels allowed me to capture some amazing fall photographs of the falls.

Bonanza Falls

On another Visit to the I drove up to Lake of the Clouds to photograph the sunrise. Unfortunately it was cloudy and the wind was so strong that I could barely keep the tripod upright. I decided to pack it in and started back to my motel in White Pine. As I neared Bonanza Falls I noticed that there was a little clearing in the clouds and some nice light. I pulled in to Bonanza falls to have a look. There were some great clouds and light.

Bonanza Falls

What is so amazing about photographing at Bonanza Falls is that if you hit it at the right water levels there will be many small waterfalls and pools of water winding through and over the rock uplifts that you can photograph. The site has two main falls Bonanza and at the west side of the river Greenwood. In between there are many other falls to photograph.

The areas is also interesting because of the rock uplift. the rocks at the bottom of the river are uplifted at a severe angle. In the right conditions you can almost walk across the Big Iron River on the uplifted rock photographing small waterfalls all along the way.

More Photos of the area can be found on my website.

Last week we took a long weekend to make our last trip the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to view fall colors. During the fall color season we have had strong winds so we were not sure what to expect.

Red Jack Lake

Day one was a travel day from Menomonie, Wisconsin to Munising, Michigan. There were a few spots where the leaves were still good but for the most part they had blown down in the strong winds. We arrived in Munising late in the day and then headed out through Hiawatha National Forest to check on the tree conditions at a number of lakes. We first stopped at Moccasin and Thornton Lakes. The color at both was good but there was more junk in the water than usual at Thornton Lake. We then drove into Red Jack and Council Lakes arriving just as the sun was setting behind the trees. Most of the leaves were down at both lakes except at the east end of the lake where the sun was hitting the trees. This is a shot taken at Red Jack Lake just before the sun set.

Moccasin Lake Sunrise

On the morning of day two we decided to make our first stop at Moccasin Lake. The sunrise was not the best but there were some spectacular clouds in the sky with reflections off of the lake. This was the talk of the morning among the small number of photographers in the area.

Petes Lake

We then headed over to Petes Lake. The color was also good. This was a shot taken on the campground road. This is usually a great place to find lots of leaves on the ground.

Lake Superior Shoreline

After hiking and driving around in Hiawatha National Forest for most of the morning we headed over to Pictured Rocks and the Little Beaver Lake trailhead. We spent the afternoon hiking out to Spray Falls. Unfortunately it was later in the day and the falls was backlit. This was a shot taken along the shore on the hike back to the car.

Miners Beach

It was late in the day so we decided to stop at Miners Beach to check on conditions and take a few late afternoon photos. In an earlier post I lamented the conditions at Miners Beach. It was almost impossible to photograph Elliot Falls because of the large number of dead trees washed into the area. I was really happy to find that the beach had been cleaned either by nature or someone. The falls also had a little more water flowing in spite of the drought.

Water Patterns

We had not planned on shooting sunset photos at Miners Beach because the Packers were playing on a late Sunday night game. When we arrived at the beach there was another fellow walking around but he left just after we arrived. I started shooting along the beach then concentrated on shooting some water pattern and leaf photos at the foot of the falls. Other photographers started arriving so I started packing up to leave. My wife mentioned that the individual we

Unknown Photographer

had seen earlier had returned and he was carrying a large anatomically correct female doll. When I looked he was in the middle of the photo that everyone want to take. I’m not sure what was going on but he was posing the doll. Definitely a first and a topic of conversation among the photographers at Miners Beach that night. I should have gone over to find out what he was up to.

Sand Point Sunset

We decided to drive out to Sand Point for our sunset photos. It would allow time to pick up something to eat and still make it to the packer game. There were a couple of Trumpeter Swans feeding just off of the beach so I included them in my sunset photo.

Au Train Falls

Day three was a waterfall day. Our first stop was Au Train Falls. I had visited several times before and each time found very little water flowing in the falls and had expected the same on this day because of the drought. When we arrived we found a good water flow. The falls is downstream from a dam so there must have been a water release.

Laughing Whitefish Falls

The next waterfall on our list was Laughing Whitefish Falls. Again I wasn’t quite sure what to expect given the drought. As it turned out there was very little water flowing. It was the lowest water level I had seen at the falls. It did mean there were lots of leaves where water would normally be running. This is a shot taken from the top of the falls.

We drove on to Marquette for lunch. We decided we had a little time so we decided to visit Reany Falls. This was my first visit to the falls. Again not a lot of water and there was a considerable amount of downed trees in the falls so it was difficult to get a lot of good shots. There are quite a few falls in the Marquette area so this looks like a place I’ll be heading to next spring.

Bond Falls

The next stop was Bond falls. Since Bond Falls is below a dam you can always be assured of a good water flow even during times of drought. We weren’t disappointed although there were few leaves remaining on the trees.

Bonanza Falls

Our destination for the day was White Pine just outside of Porcupine Mountains State Park. We normally stay at the Konteka in White Pine. After checking in we drove to Bonanza Falls. It’s a waterfall that is close to the road and under normal conditions offers a large number of photographic opportunities. In this case the water level was the lowest I have ever seen it so the photographic opportunities were limited.

Union Bay Sunset

The final stop of the day was Union Bay for some sunset photos. Unfortunately nature didn’t cooperate and there was not much of a sunset. This was about the best nature had to offer on this night. On the positive side it was an incredible evening to be on the beach. the temperature was 70+ degrees and no bugs. In fact the entire trip we had daytime temperatures in the high 70’s.

Union Bay Moonset

We were up early the next morning to try and catch the sunrise at Lake of the Clouds. On the way to the car we noticed that it was not very likely that we would have a good sunrise because of extensive cloud cover. However, as we drove toward the park we noticed that the full moon was just setting over Union Bay. We parked and raced down to the beach to catch some photographs.

Lake of the Clouds

As it turned out there was not much of a sunrise at Lake of the Clouds. We did catch the sun peaking through the clouds a little later in the morning. Almost of the leaves were down in the park and there was very little color.

Looks like the end of the fall photo season and it came way too soon.

Think Snow!!!!