Copper Harbor Wants You in November

Do you know what Copper Harbor is like in November?

Chances are, you don’t.  Unless you live here.

How do I know that?  Because the locals recognize pretty much every person and vehicle that passes through or stops in.  Besides the 100-ish residents, a few fishermen and even less than a few hunters, this town becomes remarkably quiet and peaceful during this month.

That’s exactly why you should come.

When were you here last?  February to snowmobile?  August with the family?  September for the colors?

Those are busy months, my friend.  You may think you’re coming to the end of the earth to get away from it all, but you’re doing it just when everybody else is.

Pay attention now.  This is the local scoop.  These are the reasons you should come to Copper Harbor in November:

You Can See Everything

Once those leaves fall off the trees, you get views you never knew existed.  Lake Superior is visible from the trails on the north side of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.  You can see all the logging paths in the valleys right off of the Covered Stretch.  New rock formations suddenly become visible as you hike through the woods.

It’s like a whole new world!  Come and see it for yourself!

The Waves Get Massive

They don’t call ’em the gales of November for nothing!  As the temperatures change and pressure systems shift, Lake Superior can get rockin.’  You may have seen pictures or videos on the internet, but you haven’t seen or felt that power until you stood on the shore and watched it yourself.  That little pang of fear and awe always adds to the experience.

Here’s a video from a few years ago.  (Cheater note.  Yes, this video is from the spring, but spring and fall both stir the beast in her!)

Help Decorate the Park

For most of the month of November, Captain Donny and friends put up lights, trees and decorations in the park to prepare for lighting it up at Winter Wonderfest (mark your calendar for that on December 14th).  Wouldn’t you feel proud and honored if you could be there and say, “I decorated that tree!” or “I remember helping with those decorations!”

It’s a community effort, and anyone is welcome to help.

Here’s a video of what the fruits of your efforts can look like!

It’s You and the Locals

I know.  This can be a bit daunting.  Especially if you stop in to the General Store in the morning for a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich while the locals are having coffee talk.  Oh, boy.  You’ll learn things you never wanted to know about people!  And even if you don’t know the people, the stories can be pretty juicy.  For some reason, we just don’t hold back.

Maybe that’s why they say “we’re all here because we’re not all there!”

But you will also get more personal service.

Gilly at the Mariner with time for a trick!

Have you been to the Mariner North a dozen times in July?  Well, come visit in November, and you might get to know them a bit better.  Your server will have time to chat, and the owners might even be out enjoying a meal.  This is the time to come if you ever wanted to hobnob or get in with the crowd.

The Fishing is Good

Don’t tell anyone that I told you that.

The splake usually bite in the harbor once the big lake cools down.  I’ve seen plenty of boats trolling the harbor and solo or groups of people fishing right off the docks lately.  It’s a good time to try your luck!

But no promises.  I mean, that’s why they call it fishing and not catching.

You Can Truly “Get Away”

This picture was taken on Wednesday, October 30th.  Need I say more?

What a peaceful time to walk the streets of Copper Harbor and take in the solitude!

That doesn’t mean that there are no amenities, however.  You will get your needs met in the following ways for the month of November:

  • Gas Lite General Store – hot coffee, breakfast items, fishing licenses, groceries, snacks, clothing, all types of gear, a variety of adult beverages and, of course, the juicy local gossip.
  • The Mariner North – lunch and dinner daily with a full bar!  Cabins and motel rooms.
  • Copper Harbor Fuel Stop – open daily for fuel, snacks, local art, automotive items and fishing gear.
  • Minnetonka Resort and Thunderbird Gift Shop – warm motel rooms and a gift shop until the middle of November.
  • Brockway Inn Motel – cozy motel rooms open until the middle of November.
  • Spirit of the North Massage and Wellness – massage specials and energy work until November 25.
  • Brickside Brewery – local craft beer on the weekends.
  • The Post Office – buy stamps and get that package shipped 6 afternoons a week.  Access to local brochures and displays.

See?  You won’t be stranded!

You’ll be flexing your fortitude.  Yeah.  That’s it.  See you soon!

It is a little chilly up here, though.  Bundle up!

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The Smaller Parts of Fall

Did you make it?

Did you get to the Keweenaw for the fall colors?  They were spectacular!  (And many are still hanging on!)

Whether you made it or missed it this year, chances are you were focused on the tree lines.  Florescent maples and rich oaks.  Bright aspens and golden birches.  This valley and that ridge, etc.

But did you stop to look at the smaller things that fall brings?

Not really???

Well, then.  Let’s do it!

Mushrooms among the pipsissewa and moss


Glistening choke cherries


Large leaved aster flowers


Dew-covered aster leaf


Mottled thimbleberry leaf


Wild rose hip


Bilberry bush

Not too shabby, Mother Nature!

We’ve got to savor every little bit of it while we can because, well, we know what comes next.  See you then!

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Color Season Update #2

Ready to check out what’s turning?

Brockway Mountain

This hunk of a hill is all lit up.  I took pictures on Thursday, October 3 in the rain and fog, so the photos don’t do it justice.  As you gaze, remember: no sunlight and no filter on these pics.

West Bluff of Brockway looking south toward Lake Medora.  The mist takes the reds out of it.  It’s actually quite breathtaking!


From the west end looking southeast into that valley.  It’s a big change from last week!  


Somewhere in the middle looking south.  Those hues look so subdued here.  It’s actually stunning!  


At the Nose of Brockway looking east.  I got the token colored maple in there.  Otherwise, there’s not much happening on that end!

Any time from now until next weekend is going to be magical on top of the middle to the west end of Brockway Mountain drive and into the southern valley. Do you have your room booked yet?

The Covered Stretch

Here’s a treat for you!  I recorded this video on Thursday as well.  It was raining still, but I have never seen the leaves reflected in the fresh pavement quite like that before!  Enjoy the non-stop, vibrant colors with Mary LaPlant fiddling in the background!

Okay, so the whole stretch is fascinating.  You will oooh and ahhh around each corner.  My goodness, now is the time to get on that beautiful journey!  It should still be pretty nice for about a week.  Book that room!

Lake Manganese

I went up to Lake Manganese, but the sun cast shadows on most of the trees.  Blogger fail!  But let me tell you that they have put some serious time into changing!  Maybe around 50% color up there.  But the lake sure is peaceful as usual!

The Verdict

Get your buns up here!  No dilly dallying.  Anytime from now until next weekend should be spectacular.

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Color Season Update #1

If you live far away from Copper Harbor, and you’re planning a fall trip to look at the colors then you are probably not sleeping at night.

You lie awake, stare at the ceiling, listen to your partner (or pet) snore and wonder: When are the colors going to peak?  When is the best time for me to go north???

Well, stress no more.

I can’t promise that this post will help you sleep better, but it will show you, in almost real time, how the leaves are looking right now.

Let’s cut to it.

Brockway Mountain

On Wednesday, September 25th, 2019, I drove over Brockway Mountain to get the palate.  Here it is:

From the West Bluff of Brockway Mountain looking southeast into the valley.


From the Nose of Brockway Mountain looking east over the town of Copper Harbor.

Covered Stretch

Now let’s talk about the Covered Stretch on Highway 41.  The maples are going off.  Fuchsias, tangerines, lemony yellows and plum purples highlight the way.  A few of the trees are already dropping leaves, but there is plenty of color left once the birches, aspens and oaks turn.

A primo spot on the Covered Stretch

The local report proclaims the leaves are 40-50% changed on this stretch of highway, and the norther you get, the greener they look.

Lake Manganese

Here are two photos of Lake Manganese from Thursday, September 26, 2019.

From Manganese Beach looking south


From Manganese Beach looking west

The verdict?  It’s totally up to you!  Judge for yourself!

I’d give it another two weeks if you want to see Brockway Valley all lit up.  Of course, anything can happen in that time.  I mean, it could snow!

Here is a link to the Upper Peninsula Color Report on Facebook.  They are constantly updating throughout the U.P.  I will post pictures here the next two Fridays.

And just so you know, Mount Bohemia is running their chairlifts the first two weekends in October.

Well, hope this helps!  Now if you can only get your dog to stop snoring!

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