September 2018 – In mid-September we traveled in our RV to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to see the fall colors and to experience the beauty of the shores of Lake Superior. In the small coastal town of Ontonagon we wandered down to the beach just as the sun was setting.
We were both in seventh heaven as we snapped one gorgeous image after another of the sun giving us its final winks before it slipped out of sight below the horizon.
The waves rolled in and pounded the shore relentlessly while the clouds moved quickly across the sky. The dark blanket of storm clouds turned a vivid pink for a few minutes as they passed.
These kinds of moments are our favorites in our traveling lives: admiring Nature in all her glory and trying to capture what we see on camera. We each stake out a spot that looks appealing and fire away.
When we were contemplating whether we should introduce a puppy to our crazy lifestyle one of our biggest concerns was what he would do while we were busy taking pics. It turns out that he loves these moments too. He keeps himself busy running between us and sniffing everything there is to sniff around us.
After the sun disappeared and most of the color had faded a storm appeared on the horizon.
Until this season I had seen Lake Superior for just a brief visit years ago. I had dipped my toe in the frigid water in early May and said, “Okay, that’s enough. We’re outta here!”
Mark had told me stories over the years of visiting Lake Superior one winter long ago and seeing huge waves standing bolt upright, frozen solid mid-curl. The whole lake had looked like a lemon meringue pie!
Yet so far in our travels along Lake Superior this fall the lake had been as calm as could be, giving us one wonderful beach experience after another as we skirted along the coast in Wisconsin and in Michigan’s U.P.
However, that sensational sunset we had just witnessed in Ontonagon was the last we’d see of the sun for the next three weeks! Lake Superior started to snarl and the whole Upper Peninsula snarled with it, delivering clouds and rain and nasty cold windy temps day after day after day.
Lake Superior was still fabulous, even in its bad mood. We just had to wear a lot more layers of clothing, that’s all!
We traveled up the Keweenaw Peninsula to Copper Harbor where we got a whiff of what a fantastic summer spot this is. There was a haunting beauty in the cold gray autumn air, but what a place this must be in July!
In our mission to see the fall color we had seen lots of hardwood trees starting to change, but hadn’t yet witnessed the peak anywhere. When we first arrived in Michigan we stopped at a visitors center that had a wonderful Fall Color Map on the wall. They didn’t have a printed version so I took a photo to help us with our travel planning as we zig-zagged around the U.P.
It was bitterly cold, but we just bundled up and had a ball, even though it drizzled off and on for days, in between vicious downpours that pummeled us and our trailer!
In planning which areas to visit in the U.P. we had seen spectacular photos of fall color captured in reflections across small lakes and ponds, so we started heading down small twisting dirt roads to get to a few lakes and were well rewarded for our efforts. The wind didn’t die down for a while, so our earlier pics were simple lakeside shots without reflections.
We took many walks in the woods where the trees were starting to show off their most vibrant shades.
Up close it is amazing to see the color patterns on each leaf.
The colors were absolutely yummy. Buddy thought so too!
As we walked around we saw other fun woodsy things like bright red berries and pure white fungus.
We made our way back to the coast to visit the Miner’s Castle Overlook which is part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Lake Superior is shockingly clear in this spot, and if you didn’t know you had to wear a winter jacket to enjoy the view, the turquoise color would make you think the water was as warm as the tropics!
Some of the best color we found was in Hiawatha National Forest on the small ponds and lakes scattered in the woods south of Munising.
At Moccasin Lake and Red Jack Lake we saw some wonderful mirror reflections in the early morning before the wind picked up.
One day was particularly cold and when we got to the edge of the lake mist was rising off the glassy surface.
Another fantastic spot we bumped into that doesn’t get any press and isn’t even labeled on Google Maps is McQuisten Recreation Area just a few miles south of Munising on National Forest Road H-13. A beautiful boardwalk takes you all around a series of small ponds with lookouts positioned every few hundred yards. We loved this little jewel so much we went back three times. Buddy had a blast running on the boardwalk. He sounded like a herd of elephants as he tore around, especially when he met another dog and they tore around together!
We didn’t get the crisp sunny air that we had expected during our Upper Peninsula fall foliage tour, but the autumn colors were everything we had hoped they would be!
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More info about these places:
- Why we came to the U.P. in Autumn – Pro photographer Steve Perry’s Michigan photos are out of this world.
Hover over each pic to see the location and check out the lighthouse covered with ice!
- Eagle Harbor Lighthouse
- Miner’s Castle
- Hiawatha National Forest Fall Foliage info
- Map showing these places – “Connors Rd” is the entrance to McQuisten Recreation Area.
We zig-zagged all over the U.P. and did not follow this exact route.
Other blog posts from our travels in Michigan:
- Halloween Camping – RV Witches & Goblins at Michigan State Parks!
- Mackinac Island, Michigan – A Precious Walk Back in Time!
- Waterfalls in Michigan’s U.P. – Tahquamenon, Bond Falls & Black River Jewels
- Lake Michigan – Charming coastal towns
- South Haven – Harbor Village
- Soo Locks – Freighter Elevator
- North Lake Michigan – Alluring Coastal Towns
- Upper Peninsula (MI) – Cute Towns & Fine Craftsmanship
- Lake St. Clair, Michigan – Quick Trip Abroad
- Lake Huron MI – Hydroplane Races and the Joseph S. Fay Shipwreck
Places we’ve seen beautiful fall foliage:
- Fall Colors and Wildlife on the Sonoran Desert Rivers in Arizona
- Brilliant Fall Foliage + Snow in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado
- Colorado’s San Juan Skyway – An RV Trip in Dazzling Fall Color!
- Fall Color in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert near Roosevelt Lake
- Swift Trail Scenic Drive up Mt. Graham – Autumn Color in Arizona
- San Juan Mountains Colorado – And then it Snowed!
- RV Trip on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway – Ouray to Silverton
- Ouray – Finding the COLOR in Colorado on an RV Trip!
- Colorado GOLD – A Fall Foliage Photography Workshop
- Ridgway, CO – Peak fall foliage on the Dallas Divide – WOW!!
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