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Category Archives: Cascade River State Park

After driving down to Cascade River State Park we drove back to Grand Marais and then out to the harbor to take a few more photographs. There were some nice waves hitting the breakwater. A few years ago the area just outside the breakwater was not covered with water. Folks were out building structures with rocks. The high water on Lake Superior has dramatically changed the landscape.

 

 

It was late in the day and cloudy creating ideal conditions to photograph at Cascade River State Park. I was a little surprised at the low water levels given the high water on the southern end of the North Shore.

 

After lunch we headed back to Duluth with a stop at Cascade River State Park.

Our last waterfalls of the day were found on the Cascade River. These are some of my favorite waterfall along the Minnesota North Shore. Normally I like to photograph here last in the day or early in the morning when the falls are in the shade. On this beautiful sunny day we were a bit early and the sun was still peaking though on the walls along the falls.

Cascade-River-State-Park-15-4-_2741

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We always stop at the Cascade River. The Cascade River is one of the more photogenic of the rivers on the Minnesota North Shore.

Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls

Cascade River

Cascade River

Cascade River

Cascade River

Cascade River

Cascade River

It’s the time of year when I start getting excited about the fall colors. Already some states have their fall color reports active. I started thinking about the places I would like to travel to this fall and came up with a list of my top 5 destinations. I’ve listed the ironwood area first because, for some reason, the leaves turn in this area before they do in any other area.

Ironwood, Michigan

Gile Flowage– is located just south of Ironwood, Michigan. What I like about Gile Flowage is that you can photograph at sunrise and sunset and get some great photos. In fact, at both times you can photograph the color of the trees and just turn around and then photograph the rising or setting sun.

Gile Flowage Sunrise

 

Gile Flowage Sunrise

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hillis the largest ski jump in the world and the top of the jump is nearly 1200 feet above lake Superior. On a clear day you can see for over 40 miles. Lake Superior and the Porcupine Mountains are visible from the top. The ski jump is open on weekends during fall color season.

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill

 Black Riveris just down the road from Copper Peak and offers some great fall views of waterfalls along the Black River.

Rainbow Falls

  Munising, Michigan

Hiawatha National Forestis located just south of Munising and offers some great photography opportunities along the many lakes in the area. The peak colors in the national forest are usually a week or so before the colors in Pictured Rocks. Most of the lakes are best photographed early in the morning. More information can be found in an earlier Blog.

Thorton Lake

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshoreoffers some spectacular photo opportunities. The fall sunset boat cruise is not to be missed. The many mile of hiking trails through the park offer a wide range of subjects for photography.

Grand Portal Point

Seney National Wildlife Refugeis located at the eastern end of Pictured Rocks and offers some great chances for sunset and sunrise photography. Large numbers of Trumpeter Swans can be found in the Refuge.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunset

WaterfallsThere are a large number of great waterfalls within a short drove of Munising. This is a shot of Laughing Whitefish Falls.

Laughing Whitefish Falls

 Baraboo, Wisconsin

 Pewits Nestis located in the southern part of Wisconsin just outside Baraboo. It’s a small gorge with a stream flowing through it. The top of the gorge is covered with large maple trees. If you hit it right the maple trees are spectacular. The gorge itself is worth the trip even after most of the leaves have fallen.

Pewits Nest

Devils Lake State ParkIs also located just outside of Baraboo. It is one of the premier Wisconsin parks and a popular destination any time of the year but particularly in the fall. We usually combine the trip with a visit to Ski-Hi Fruit Farm which lies just outside the park.

Devil’s Lake State Park

Gibraltar RockIs just a short drive from Baraboo and offers some stunning views of the Wisconsin River valley. We usually combine a visit to Gibraltar rock with a trip on the Merrimac Ferry which crosses the Wisconsin River at Merrimac Wisconsin.

Gibraltar Rock

Minnesota North Shore

There are photography opportunities all along the Minnesota North Shore from Duluth, Minnesota to Grand Portage State Park on the Canadian Border. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites. The fall leaves turn first in the interior away from the lake. The Maples turn earlier than the Birch. Generally it will take several trips at different times to take in all of the fall color along the North Shore. If the leaves disappoint the Lake will not so there is always something to photograph.

 Gooseberry Falls State ParkThis is usually my first stop on any trip to the North Shore. I try to time my visit so I’m not there on a weekend because it is one of the most popular parks in Minnesota.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

 Tettegouche State Park –  They are building a new visitors center at the park so the visitors center will closed for the fall 2012 season. Lots of nice hiking trails into the back country.

Mic Mac Lake

Oberg Mountain – My favorite place for fall photographs on the North Shore. The top of Oberg Mountain offers stunning 360 degrees of the surrounding forests and Lake Superior.

Oberg Mountain

 Cascade River State Park is a great place to photograph any time of the year but it can be beautiful in the fall if the water level is high. Best photographed early in the morning or late in the day when the cascades are in the shade and provide a uniform light.

Cascade River

Grand Portage State Parkis located on the border with Canada. It offers spectacular views of the highest waterfall in Minnesota. Late in the fall color season the Birch Trees at the top of the falls turn brilliant colors. If you happen to be there late in the day the sun will highlight the fall colors while the falls is in the shade.

High Falls

 Crex Meadows

Crex Meadows stands alone as a destination for photography. It is a great place to photograph fall colors, sunrises and sunsets. It is also the one of the best locations in the country to photograph the fall migration of the Sandhill Cranes. You will want to plan on spending the night in Grantsburg, Wisconsin so you can take in the evening and morning flights of the cranes. About an hour before sunset the cranes start returning to the meadows. Folks bring their lawn chairs and just sit and watch them fly into their rousting grounds. You can return to the same location at sunrise and watch the cranes leaving to feed for the day in the surrounding fields. During the day you can drive the back roads south of town to watch the cranes feeding. Make sure you make the trip this year because if the Wisconsin creates a Sandhill Crane hunt you may not be able to see this spectacular event in future years. I have more details on photographing at Crex in an earlier Blog.

Sunset Crex Meadows

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes Sunset Flight

I’m frequently asked why the water in some of my photos looks so strange. Most people think it must be flood water containing large amounts of silt. The actual reason is that In Northern Wisconsin and along the Minnesota North Shore the water frequently has  a root beer color because of tannins, which come from the decomposition of wetland plants. The greater the watershed drainage the darker the water. Two prime examples of this can be found at Amnicon Falls State Park in Wisconsin and Cascade River State Park in Minnesota. The root beer color adds a dramatic touch to the photos and creates interesting patterns in the water.

These shots were taken at Amnicon Falls State Park just outside Superior, Wisconsin. The river was running heavy on this particular day and the water had a dark root beer color.

Lower Falls

Snake Pit Falls

These shots were taken at Cascade River State Park.

The Cascades

Cascade River

The final stop on last week’s trip to the Minnesota North Shore was at Cascade Rivers State Park. We had stopped in Grand Marais for a bite to eat and then enjoy a beautiful sunset at the harbor. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t look like it would cooperate so we went to plan B which was to drive back down to Cascade River State Park. Generally on sunny days the Cascade River can be photographed in the evening and early in the morning without encountering harsh light. As we were photographing along the Cascade River we noticed that the sun was starting to come out. This gave us renewed hope for a sunset at Grand Marais. We rushed to finish up and then headed back to Grand Marais. Alas there was no sunset.

Cascade Falls

Cascade River

The Cascades

More photos of Cascade Falls State Park can be found on my website.

I was taking a last look at my 2011 photos before sending them off to storage and decided to write a brief review of the years photographic experiences.

January

Things started off with a bang with an early winter blizzard. Not only did January bring lots of snow locally but it created some fantastic ski conditions in the upper Midwest. We made a number of ski trips to the U.P. of Michigan. Our favorite ski location was Swedetown. This is a shot taken on the Backcountry Trail. Unfortunately the log was removed because the groomer could no longer get  the groomer under it with all of the snow.

Swedetown Backcountry Trail

 February

February was highlighted by a trip to the Apostle Islands Dog Sled Races in Bayfield, Wisconsin. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a bunch of excited dogs as I did in the morning before the race started. The whole parking area was a scene of bedlam. Things were much different in the afternoon when they returned from a day of racing. There wasn’t a sound to be heard from the dogs. Their tongues were hanging out and all they wanted to do was eat and lay down. It’s a trip will worth taking for the family because you can get so close to the dogs.

Off and Racing

March

In late March we were planning one last trip to Lake Superior. Unfortunately nature had one last blizzard in store for us and were snowed in for a couple of days before the township was able to get all of the roads plowed. This was a massive storm that was supposed to hit the Duluth area with lots of snow. The weather pattern changed at the last minute and the snow dropped down into our area. When we did make the trip north we found almost no snow in the Duluth area. We had hoped to find some ice along Lake Superior but there was almost none to be found. When we stopped at Tettegouche State Park we asked the  ranger if there was any ice around. That started a surreal day of hiking through great fields of ice formations. The saga was documented in an earlier postfrom that day. The storm that brought us snow brought a strong Northeaster to the North Shore and created fantastic ice sculptures.

Tettegouche State Park

 April

April brought another trip to the Minnesota North Shore. Amazingly most of the ice was gone and the spring snow melt was under way. This is a shot of the Cascades in Cascade Falls State Park.

The Cascades

 May

The highlight of May was a visit to my bird feeder of a pair of Scarlet Tanagers. I have rarely seen Tanagers and had never gotten photos of them. The male showed up one day and as soon as I saw what it was I raced for a camera. I photographed the male and then the next day the female turned up at the feeder. They were both feeding on suet. By the third day they were gone.

Scarlet Tanager male

 June

In June I made another trip to the Minnesota North Shore. Driving south from Grand Marais I noticed the fog moving in and out around Bluefin Bay. I stopped at a gas station for some coffee and then drove back to watch the fog in the early morning light.

Bluefin Bay

 July

I July I spend most of my time photographing insects and flowers. I happened to catch this Honey Bee on a Milkweed plant that was just starting to bloom.

Honey Bee

 August

August brought an invasion of Clearwing Hummingbird Moths. I had seen them along the Red Cedar River several years ago but had never seen them on my farm or at Hoffman Hills. This year they were everywhere so I spend a considerable effort to try and photograph them. I suspect I will never see as many again.

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

 September

In early September my wife and I made a trip through the U.P. of Michigan. We had planned on spending an night in Seney so we could photograph the sunset at Seney Wildlife Area. Through a stroke of luck I managed to capture my favorite photo of the year. We had not seen clouds during the day but as evening approached clouds formed in the western sky. We were late in arriving at Seney and sunset was already well underway. In addition, there were some contrails in the sky. I wasn’t happy to see them but continued to photograph the sunset. As the evening progressed th clouds and contrails combined to create an image of an eagle in sky making for a memorable photo.

Seney Sunset

 October

One of the benefits of living in the upper Midwest is the fall color displays. I had to work hard to capture them this year because just as the fall color season was starting strong winds also started blowing. They continued throughout the fall and took the leaves down almost as soon as they peaked. This photo was taken in Rusk County in northern Wisconsin.

Rusk County

 November

In November I usually make my way to Crex Meadows near Grantsburg, Wisconsin to photograph the fall Sandhill Crane migration. In November there can be as many as 14,000 Sandhill Cranes residing in Crex. On this particular day I had intended to drive out to where the cranes were roosting and not bother to stop for sunrise shots at Phantom Lake. As I drove past Phantom Lake I realized that there was going to be a spectacular sunrise. This was my favorite fall shot taken shortly after the sun came up.

Phantom Lake Sunrise

 December

December was one of the slowest photography months I’ve had. We had virtually no snow until a 6 inch wet snowfall the first week in December. My wife and I quickly drove down to the Red Cedar Trail to take advantage of the fresh snow. Fortunately we did because it quickly melted and Christmas looked more like Thanksgiving with brown grass and no snow. This is the bridge over the Red Cedar River.

Red Cedar Trail Bridge

This past week we took a road trip up the Minnesota North Shore. This time we didn’t stop at the border and went all the way to Thunder Bay. This was my first visit to Thunder Bay in about fifteen years.

 

Snake Pit Falls

As is our normal routine we made our first stop at Amnicon Falls State Park. I was surprised to find the water levels in the Amnicon River at a high level. Typically at this time of year they are much lower. Swimming was prohibited in the park because of the high water levels. This shot was taken at the top of Snake Pit Falls.

 

Wisconsin Point Lighthouse

Our second stop was Wisconsin Point. This was my second visit to Wisconsin Point this summer. The wind was really kicking up and it was difficult to stand on the breakwater in the strong winds. The water in the bay was really churned up and was a brown color. In this shot of the Wisconsin Point Lighthouse you can see movement in the grass from the strong winds.

 

We then went on to Gooseberry Falls State Park. The water levels were really low along the North Shore. This was a little surprising given the high water at Amnicon Falls. The place was packed with visitors. I would have liked to get some photos of the falls with the lower water levels but it was impossible to take a photo without getting at least a half dozen people in it. This is why I rarely visit the North Shore from mid June until after Labor Day.

 

Split Rock Lighthouse

We then drove up to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. I thought we would have to purchase a park sticker but you can visit the lighthouse without a sticker so we saved a little money. It was really windy at the lighthouse and it was difficult to hear the tour guide with the wind blowing. This photo was taken on an earlier trip. Too many folks on the tour to get good photos this trip.

 

After leaving the lighthouse we encountered some rain squalls on our drive to Grand Marais. There were several rainbows along the lake. One of them lasted from Split Rock to just south of Grand Marais. I’ve never seen a rainbow last this long.

 

Cascade Falls

We stopped briefly at Cascade Falls State Park. The water levels were low but I find that Cascade Falls is more impressive with less water flowing over the falls. With less water the falls is framed by the black rock surrounding the falling water.

 

 

 

 

Grand Marais Harbor Lighthouse

I was able to spend a couple of days shooting in Grand Marais. The sunset was very interesting with a rain squall in the background and a rainbow dropping through the clouds. The sunrise was less spectacular with almost no clouds around. This is a shot of the harbor light with interesting cloud formations in the background.

 

High Falls of the Pigeon River

Later in the morning we headed for Grand Portage State Park to photograph High Falls on the Pigeon River. The sun was out by the time we reached the falls. It was a beautiful day and I managed a few photographs of the falls with a rainbow appearing and disappearing at the base of the falls.

 

Kakabeka Falls

At Thunder Bay we stopped at Kakabeka Falls. There was not a lot of water coming over the falls. In fact it was extremely dry in the Thunder Bay area. I was also photographing in bright sunlight so the conditions were not the best. You have to pay to visit the park and we had quite a time making our payment at the automated ticket machine. Apparently we don’t get out enough.

 

Fur Stores

Fort William Historical Park was on our agenda for the afternoon. We were too late for some of the events but did walk around the park. I have to say that our previous visit when our son was about seven years old was a lot more fun since many of the activities are geared to kids. This is a shot of the fur stores.

 

Blue-winged Teal

We drove around Thunder Bay in the evening. I can’t say that I was all that impressed. They are working on the waterfront and when that is done it should be spectacular to visit. We stopped at International Friendship Gardens where I snapped this photo of a friendly Blue-winged Teal.

 

Voyageur Child

The next morning we headed back down to the border. Our first stop was at Grand Portage National Monument in Grand Portage. There is a nice visitors center and a restored fort on the waterfront. Normally when I stop the fort is closed for the season. This time the fort was open and, as luck would have it, Rendezvous Days and a Traditional Pow Wow were going to be starting the next day. About half the participants had already arrived by Thursday so we were able to wander around the encampment talking to folks. This is a shot of one of voyageur’s daughters entering the Kitchen at the fort.

 

schooner Hjørdis

Inuksuk

We then headed back to Grand Marais so my wife and her sisters could tours the shops and I could take some photos of the harbor. I was lucky enough to catch the schooner Hjørdis sailing into the harbor. Also in the harbor were lots of Inuksuks. This was a particularly impressive one. We finished off the visit with a lunch at Sven and Ole’s.