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Category Archives: Grand Marais Harbor

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.

 

 

While we were in Grand Marais the wind was blowing and the waves were pounding the beach. I took a few shots of Artists Point.

There was some great light and clouds over the harbor.

We drove around to the south side of the harbor to get a few photos of the waves pounding the rocks along the shore. Several other photographers had the same idea.

 

After returning to Grand Marais we checked into our motel and grabbed a bite to eat before heading out to the harbor for some sunset photos. Unfortunately the sunset was not anything spectacular but there were some nice waves.

The next morning we drove inland from Grand Marais hoping to find some fall color. This is a photo of Grand Marais from the hill above the harbor.

Our last stop of the day was Grand Marais, Minnesota. After grabbing a bite to eat we headed out to the harbor. We were hoping for a spectacular sunset but it didn’t happen. Never-the-less the weather was warm and it was a calm evening.

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We took some photos of the breakwater. Lake Superior is high right now so areas that were exposed a few years ago are not under water.

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Walking out onto the natural rock breakwater we noticed some names carved in the stone. This one was from 1899.

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The late evening light brought out lichen colors on the rocks.

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This was the sunset looking toward the Sawtooth Mountains.

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As we were walking back to the car we noticed this duck sitting right beside the path. It wasn’t about to move.

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This was a shot looking east from the harbor parking lot.

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Our last stop of the day was in Grand Marais, Minnesota. After a quick dinner we headed down to the harbor for some late afternoon and sunset shots. The sunset was not the best and it was a little early for any boats in the harbor but it was still a nice evening. One thing we did notices is that the lake is really high and many of the shots we used to take on the walk out to the lighthouse are now covered in water.

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As winter arrived I started thinking of places and events that I wanted to photograph this winter. The events and bird photography require a little more planning than the Landscape Photography locations.

Apostle Islands Ice Caves

Without a doubt the top of my list is the Apostle Islands Ice caves. I discovered them in 2007 and have photographed them every year they have been open. When I first started photographing them I was frequently the only person on the ice that day. What a difference social media makes. This past winter well over a hundred thousand people visited the caves in-spite of the bitterly cold winter. Given the temperatures we have been seeing so far this winter I would expect the ice caves will open again in February. If you haven’t been you should make the trip.

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The Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race

The Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race will be taking place on February 7th and 8th. This is really a fun family event and one of the better sled dog races from a viewers point of view. It is possible to get up close to the dogs at the start of the races. Since it is an out and back race you can also stick around and watch the mushers return. They also have different levels of races from professionals to kids.

Off and Racing

Off and Racing

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If you are really lucky, like we were last year, the Apostle Island Ice Caves will be open that weekend. You also may also be able to drive out to Madeline Island on the ice road while you are in the area.

Bond Falls

Although Bond falls is best known as a fall destination for photographers it provides some exceptional photography in the winter. There are not many waterfalls that are all that interesting to photograph in the winter. Bond Falls in the U.P. of Michigan is an exception. Most waterfalls in the Upper-Midwest are frozen in the winter. If there has been fresh snow they look like all of the other scenery. Bond falls is just below a dam it has water flowing all winter regardless of how cold it is. The flowing water combined with some interesting ice formations makes this one of my favorite winter photography locations.

Bond Falls

Bond Falls

Ice Bond Falls

Ice Bond Falls

Mississippi River

During the winter we make a number of trips over to the Mississippi River looking for eagles. Our first stop is usually Alma, Wisconsin where eagles hang out around the lock and dam. The National Eagle Center provides a weekly report of eagles seen along this section of the Mississippi River. They also provide eagle watching tours.

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We then drive north to Reads Landing, Minnesota. We commonly see 30+ eagles in front of the Reads Landing Brewing Company. You can stop in the Brewery and watch the eagles in comfort while having lunch.

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Our last stop is usually  in Colvill Park  Redwing, Minnesota where the eagles hang out near the open water below the power plant. The catch to watching eagles in the winter is the best time to find them gathered in large numbers is when there is a bitterly cold stretch of weather. This causes the Mississippi to freeze up and reduces access to open water.

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Canadian Hill Farm

I can usually find something to photograph on the farm during the winter but most of my time is spent photographing birds during snow storms. There is nothing like hunkering down in the house with a roaring fire in the fireplace while sitting in my rocking chair and photographing birds.

Northern Cardinal male

Northern Cardinal male

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Hudson, Wisconsin

Hudson is a great place to watch Trumpeter Swans during the winter. With the successful reintroduction of Trumpeter Swans into the Midwest watching and photographing them has become a year around event. Trumpeter Swans don’t migrate in the winter they just move to the nearest open water. There is a small patch of open water in Hudson where they congregate in large numbers during the winter months. It is easy to get up close and photograph them.

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Hudson is also where the Hudson Hot Air Affair is held every February. This is one of the few hot air balloon rallies in the area. It is well worth the trip to watch the inflation and flight of the balloons.

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Amnicon Falls

Amnicon Falls State Park is a favorite stopping point during the winter. Although in very cold weather the Amnicon River usually freezes there are times when I can find open water. The tannin tainted water car result in some colorful photos.

Amnicon Falls

Amnicon Falls

Horton Covered Bridge

Horton Covered Bridge

Red Cedar State Trail

In the winter most of the Red Cedar State Trail is a cross country ski trail so in order to photograph it you have to be willing to cross country ski. There are some beautiful ice walls along the trail at the 1.5 mile mark. These are the result of water seepage through limestone rock.

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On cold days the trees along the trail can be covered in heavy frost.

Frost

Frost

The southern portion of the trail is a walking trail in the winter and on a sunny day I like to photograph the Dunnville Stone in the late afternoon light.

Dunnville Sandstone

Dunnville Sandstone

Grand Marais, Minnesota

I like to make the trip to Grand Marais at least once every winter. I’m never quite sure what I’ll find. On one trip there were high waves washing over the breakwater and lighthouses.

West Breakwater Light

West Breakwater Light

At other times I love to take intimate shots of the ice formations that are formed when the water washes over the breakwater and then freezes into beautiful patterns.

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Devil’s Punchbowl

I like to photograph at Devil’s Punchbowl near Menomonie, Wisconsin in the winter. Water seeping through limestone rocks creates a massive ice wall in the bowl. There are also opportunities to photograph objects frozen in the ice.

Devil's Punchbowl

Devil’s Punchbowl

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I just received word that my landscape photo, Surfs Up, was awarded first place in the Northern Wilds Photo Contest. This photo was taken several years ago in early January. My wife and I drove up to Grand Marais, Minnesota to watch a sled dog race. As we neared Grand Marais we noticed large waves on the lake. When we reached Grand Marais we drove out to the harbor to watch the waves pound Artists Point and the Lighthouses. The wind was so strong that it was difficult to even stand-up to photograph the waves.

East Breakwater Light

East Breakwater Light

More photos from the day can be found on my website.

When I visit Grand Marais, Minnesota I always make it a point to visit Artists Point and the harbor area at sunrise. These are a few shots from my last visit.

Grand Marais Harbor

Grand Marais Harbor

Grand Marais lighthouses

Grand Marais lighthouses

Sunrise at Artists Point

Sunrise at Artists Point

On our trips to the Minnesota North Shore we usually plan to end our day in Grand Marais. This allows me to spend time in the evening photographing the Sunset. It was a cloudy day so there wasn’t much of a sunset but there was some nice light on the Coast Guard Station late in the day.

Coast Guard Station

Coast Guard Station

Grand Marais Harbor

Grand Marais Harbor

We drove up to Grand Marais Harbor last week. This is really a two day trip from Duluth if you want to stop along the way but we did it in one day. Normally we drive to Grand Marais and stay then drive up to the Canadian Border the next day before returning to Duluth. This gives us plenty of time to make stops along the way.Grand-Marais-Lighthouses-14-2-_1014

I had hoped to get some nice intimate ice photos on the rocks outside the breakwater but there was just too much ice this time. This was a shot taken several years ago.Ice-Patterns-Grand-Marais-Harbor-12-2-_0329

The walkway on the breakwater was solid ice so we walked on the frozen water part of the way out before giving up. A snow squall started while we were out on the breakwater and the wind was blowing.West-Breakwater-Light-Grand-Marais-Harbor14-3-_1371

When we left Grand Marais little did we realize that our adventure was just beginning. This is the time of year that the deer come out of the hills and gather along highway 61. A few years ago we counted several hundred between Grand Marais and Duluth. On the way up we only saw a few dead ones.Grand-Marais-Breakwater-14-3-_1364

Just out of Grand Marais we saw a car just ahead of us hit a deer. The driver was ok. The deer was still alive and the car was totaled. We saw where another car hit a deer a short time later. The driver was checking out the front of the car and the dead deer was a little ways behind the car.

Unfortunately deer weren’t the only problem. Highway 61 has passing lanes every so far and we had pulled into the right lane. As the lane ended we pulled back into the main lane. Just then we saw a herd of deer in the road so my wife started pumping her breaks to alert the car behind us. Rather than slowing down he sped up so he sped up and drove on the right shoulder to pass us. Fortunately he missed the deer.

Before we got back to Duluth we had one more exciting moment. We were going slower than normal because all of the problem along the road when a van passed us on the left and at the same time a car passed us on the right shoulder. We were very happy to make it back home.