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Category Archives: Copper Peak

It is sometimes difficult to hit the fall colors just right. I’ve had the most success visiting Ironwood at the end of September some of the other locations I try to judge the fall colors using the Wisconsin Fall Color Foliage Report.

Gile Flowage Sunrise

Gile Flowage Sunrise

I’m starting to think about fall color trips. Typically my fall season starts with a trip to Ironwood, Michigan at the end of September. My two favorite photograph locations are Gile Flowage. Gile Flowage is a great place to start the morning by photographing the sunrise.

Gile Flowage

Gile Flowage

Later in the day I like to drive over to Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill and make the trip to the top of the ski jump. There are some spectacular views from the top of the ski lift.

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill

Copper Peak International Ski Flying Hill

In mid October I like to drive over to Munising, Michigan. This is probably one of the premier fall color locations in the country. While I’m in the area there are three locations I like to visit. The first is Hiawatha National Forest. There are quite a few lakes in the forest that offer some spectacular fall color shots. The leaves turn first in the National Forest. If you are really lucky you will be in the area when the snow falls on the colors.

Thornton Lake

Thornton Lake

A week or so later the colors will turn at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Hiking along the trails above the lake offer some unsurpassed scenery. If the weather cooperates a sunset cruse on the tour boats is well worth your time.


While in the area I always try to visit Seney National Wildlife Refuge. It offers some spectacular sunrise and sunset opportunities as well as a chance to photograph wildlife.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunset

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunset

Toward the end of October I like to drive down to Baraboo, Wisconsin. There are some great photography locations in the area. Devils Lake State Park is always popular and can be crowed on a beautiful fall Day.

Devils Lake State Park

Devils Lake State Park

Gibraltar Rock offers some great views of the Wisconsin River Valley.

Gibraltar Rock

Gibraltar Rock

My favorite location is Pewits Nest. If you time it right the leaves can be outstanding. Pewits Nest is small natural gorge cut by Skillet Creek.

Pewits Nest

Pewits Nest

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

This past weekend we made our first fall leaf peeping trip of 2012. This year we started a week early because we have had strong winds throughout the spring and summer and they seem to be blowing good this fall. Last year heavy winds took down many of the leaves just as the trees reached their peak.

Chippewa River

Our trip took us from Menomonie, Wisconsin north to Bruce, Winter, Park Falls, Fifield, through The Lac Du Flambeau Indian Reservation and on to Ironwood, Michigan. For the most part there were only spots of color. The Fifield are had some nice color. The Reservation is clearly a couple of weeks away from peak color. This is a bog shot near Fifield.


As we neared Ironwood on Highway 51 we started seeing much more color. Gile Flowage was our first stop. The color here was outstanding and will probably reach its peak this coming weekend. Unfortunately it was very windy so there were no good reflection shots be had. We then drove on to Ironwood to check-in to our motel. We had some time before sunset, there wasn’t going to be any, so we drove out to the Black River Harbor. There was some nice color along the way but as we neared the harbor there was very little color. Just as we got out of the car it started pouring rain so we made a hasty retreat to the car and drove back to Ironwood.

Gile Flowage

The next morning it was still cloudy so we drove down to the Presque Isle river in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The color along highway 519 was outstanding. This was some of the best color I’ve seen in some time along this road. Unfortunately as we neared Lake Superior the color diminished to the point there was almost no color. I suspect this area is several weeks from good color.

We decided to hike the loop trail from the harbor parking lot. We crossed the river and hiked up the east side. The water levels were low but it had rained quite a bit overnight so there was enough water to get some good photos. This was the first time I had hiked this section of trail. When we reached the South Boundary Road we crossed the bridge and headed back down the west side trail to the parking lot. By this time the sun had come out so it was difficult to get any good photographs.

Presque Isle River

We debated where to go next and decided to head for Copper Peak and take the ride to the top of the top of, what is billed, as the world’s largest ski jump. The ride to the top consists of a 36 story chair lift to the crest of the hill followed by an 18 story elevator ride to the “top” of the ski jump followed by a long walk to the actual top. The views from the top are amazing. You can view 2,500 square miles of the Lake Superior Basin. The view can include the Apostle Islands, Isle Royale and the Porcupine Mountains. Copper Peak is open on weekends during the fall color season. More photos from Copper Peak can be found on my website.

Copper Peak Ski Jump

This is a not to be missed adventure in the Ironwood area. Unfortunately there has not been any ski jumping for Copper Peak since 1994. At that time they started making changes to the jump to improve safety and disaster struck and most of the improvements were washed out in a violent storm. The non-profit group that runs the jump have been working to restore the facility to where it can once again offer competitive ski flying. If things work out they hope to offer jumping on plastic in the summer of 2014 and winter jumping the following winter.

Lake Superior Basin

After our exciting trip to the top of Copper Peak, my wife can’t stand heights and probably left her finger prints embedded in the railing, we headed back toward Menomonie.

Upson River

On the return trip we drove highway 77 to Mellon, Wisconsin. The color along highway 77 into Mellon was outstanding and should reach peak this next weekend. We then took Highway 13 to Park Falls. The color from Mellon to Glidden was also outstanding.



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

Now that fall is officially over I can post my favorite fall photographs of 2011 and start looking forward to winter photography.

I chose this photograph of a Sumac patch because of the interesting patterns. Sumac are generally the first to show the reds of fall. It was taken on my farm after a rain that darkened the color on the Sumac bark.


This small waterfall was taken early in the fall at Big Falls County Park east of Eau Claire Wisconsin. We had started over to the park earlier in the day when it was cloudy out. By the time we arrived the sun was going in and out of the clouds making it difficult to shoot. I managed this shot shortly after the sun went behind a cloud.

Big Falls

On an early fall trip we drove up to Copper Harbor, Michigan. The quality of the leaves varied but this bog shot taken just south of Houghton, Michigan showed the start of some fantastic color.


I love taking fall reflection shots. This was my favorite reflection shot of the season taken at the mouth of the Black River outside Ironwood, Michigan. It was taken from the docks under the footbridge over the river.

Black River Reflections

This photo was taken from the top of the Copper Peak Ski Flying Hill outside Ironwood, Michigan. You can see for miles from the top of the ski jump. There was still a lot of fall color in spite of the heavy winds earlier in the week. You can see Lake Superior in the background.

Copper Peak View

My wife and I had driven out to Gile Flowage just outside Hurley, Wisconsin to capture the sunrise. It is a great place to photograph because you can shoot the sun rising and turn around and shoot the early light on the trees resplendent in fall color. We had actually finished shooting for the morning and were driving to a place where we could turn the car around when I decided to take a couple of more shots. This turned out to be the last shot and my favorite.

Gile Flowage Sunrise

My wife had a meeting at meeting at Turtleback Golf Course in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. I rode along and planned on spending the day out photographing fall colors. As I drove into the parking lot I noticed the beautiful colors and captured this shot.

Turtleback Golf Course

Later that same day I was driving around in the Blue Hills east of Rice Lake. Late in the afternoon I managed to capture these bright yellows.

Rusk County

I really like this backlit scene taken near Pete’s Lake south of Munising, Michigan. I darkened the tree trunks to create a contrast with the bright reds and pastels in the background.

Pete’s Lake

This photo of a leaf on leaf was taken at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I was photographing late in the day at Miners Beach. I was attracted to the leaf and the water and rock patterns just below Elliot Falls.

Leaf on Leaf

This is a shot taken from the top of Laughing Whitefish Falls east of Munising, Michigan. I tiptoed between the river and the viewing stand to get to the top of the falls and look over the edge and took the shot with a wide angle lens.

Laughing Whitefish Falls

Pewits Nest is one of the Wisconsin State Natural Areas. It is located just outside Baraboo, Wisconsin. It is a popular photo location in the fall when the leaves are turning. Unfortunately most of the leaves were down when we arrived but it still makes for a spectacular photograph.

Pewits Nest

Crex Meadow was the location of three of my favorite photos. All of the photos were taken within a couple of hours of each other. The first photo was taken as sunrise on Phantom Lake. I had originally planned to drive directly out to the Sandhill Crane roosting grounds but the sunrise on this particular day was so spectacular that I couldn’t pass it up.

Sunrise Phantom Lake

After photographing the sunrise I drove on to the rousting grounds for the Sandhill Cranes. The sky was very dramatic and I caught this small flight of Sandhill Cranes heading out for their feeding grounds.

Sandhill Cranes Morning Flight

This last photo was taken a little while later. Most of the Sandhill cranes had already left for their feeding grounds but I found a small group of them standing in some thin ice early in the morning. Shortly after this was taken they headed out for the day.

Sandhill Cranes

When most of the fall colors are gone and there are just a few leaves remaining I concentrate on photographing single backlit leaves. You can get some dramatic photographs using this technique.

Backlit Leaf

This hot was taken late in the fall at Duluth, Minnesota. It shows the South Breakwater Outer Light during a spectacular sunrise. We had stayed at a motel in Canal Park specifically so I could photograph a sunrise. When It came time to get moving I was a little slow until I saw the bright red color in the window. I was outside photographing in less than 10 minutes.

South Breakwater Outer Light Slunrise

This past fall we made our second visit in two years to Copper Peak Ski Flying Hill. The leaves were good but not as good as last year. The strong winds earlier in the week took down quite a few leaves. Still you have a fantastic view from the top of the ski jump. I have to give my wife credit she took the lift up to the jump, the elevator then walked the rest of the way up even though she is afraid of confined spaces and heights. On a couple of the photos below you can see Lake Superior in the background.

The good news from Copper Peak is that the international agency that governs ski flying has examined the jump. They noted the changes that need to be made to bring the jump up to international standards and work is progressing. Hopefully in the next few years they will have ski flying again at Copper Peak. I can’t wait.

More Copper Peak photos can be found on my website.

Last weekend we drove from Menomonie, Wisconsin through Northern Wisconsin to Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Chippewa River

The trip took us through Cornell where I took this photo of the Chippewa River from a small park at the edge of town.

Lac du Flambeau

We then drove up through Phillips, Park Falls, Lac Du Flambeau and on to Hurley. The leaves were spotty through Phillips. The leaf report said they were at peak in Phillips and north of Phillips but I think it will be later this week when they reach peak. This shot was taken outside of Woodruff.

Gile Flowage

They were near their peak around Hurley with some nice shots at the Gile Flowage. In some places the leaves were down from the strong winds.

O Kun de Kun Falls

We then drove from Ironwood to Bruce Crossing the trees were spotty with one hill at peak and the next hill green. We stopped to hike into O-Kun-de-Kun-Falls on  the Baltimore River north of Bruce Crossing. We have driven past this waterfall many times but have never stopped. As it turned out it probably wasn’t the day to stop. It was bright sunshine with the sun directly in back of the falls. In addition, a large group of students from Michigan Tech were camping at the waterfall. Late in the day we drove on Houghton highway 26. The trees were outstanding and at peak.

Sandstone Patterns

On the second day of the trip we drove around the Keweenaw the leaves were ok but will likely peak next weekend. Leaves on the Brockway Mountain drive will probably peak a week later. We typically drive the eastern shore of the Keweenaw on the way up. This photo was taken on a small pullout northeast of Gay. The sandstone rocks in this area are outstanding.

Lac La Belle

When we reached the small town of Lac La Belle we drove over to the public docks where this photo was taken. As you can see it will be at least next weekend before the leaves are at peak.

The drive along highway 41 into Copper Harbor was nice but I think it will be next weekend before the leaves are at their peak. We returned along highway 26 on the west coast. This area doesn’t have many trees that change color.


Returning to Houghton we then headed south on highway 26 where the color was excellent. The only issue was that some of the tops of the trees were bear because of the high winds earlier in the week. On the way up I noted that the trees in the Twin Lakes Campground look promising so we stopped on the way back. I wanted to take the traditional photo looking up through the trees but the space between the trees didn’t work so I took this shot of the sunburst through one of the trees.

The then headed over toward Ontonagon on highway 38 then on to the Porcupine Mountains on 64. It looked like the trees in this area wouldn’t peak for another week. When we reached the park we took south boundary road through the park. There was some good color but the peak will likely be closer to next weekend. We didn’t stop much because we wanted to make it to Copper Peak before the chairlift closed.

Copper Peak View

We made it with a little time to spare. The leaves were good but not as good as last year. The strong winds from last Thursday and Friday took down quite a few leaves. You can see that some of the trees have lost their leaves. The shadow in the photo is the ski jump. The good news from Copper Peak is that the international agency that governs ski flying has examined the jump. They noted the changes that need to be made to bring the jump up to international standards and work is progressing. Hopefully in the next few years they will have ski flying again at Copper Peak.

I know it is a bummer but we expect 40 mph winds later in the week. I’m not sure what this will due to the leaves.