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Situated in the upper peninsula of Michigan, the Copper Harbor Destination is characterized by many nature preserves, mountain ranges, lakes, and other similar geographic features. Lake Superior covers a large portion of the northern borders of the Copper Harbor Destination, while Wisconsin takes up most of the southern borders. Warm, windy summers affect the region from mid-June to late September, with an average daily temperature of around 71 degrees Fahrenheit, in contrast to winters, which have an average daily temperature of below 34 degrees Fahrenheit. The majority of notable tourist attractions in the destination are state parks, with some of the most prominent being Ottawa National Forest, Baraga State Park, and Twin Lakes State Park, all of which provide tourists with outdoor recreational activities including hiking, fishing, camping, and swimming. The namesake of the destination, Copper Harbor, features a few lighthouses that are historically significant to the area, as the main system of transportation was by boat in the 1840s. Construction for the very first lighthouse was due to the storms of Superior Lake, which had become harsh to the point when a lighthouse was necessary.
The Copper Harbor Destination is located in the upper peninsula of Michigan, home to several state parks and nature preserves including the Baraga State Park, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Twin Lakes State Park, and Ottawa National Forest, as well as natural aquatic features such as Portage Lake, Lake Gogebic, and Bond Falls Flowage, to name a few. Copper Harbor, the namesake of the destination, can be found along the shore of Lake Superior, its name deriving from its former use of its harbor that operated in the mid-19th century when copper that had been mined from local deposits was being shipped from the Copper Harbor port. Some notable cities within the Copper Harbor Destination are namely Houghton, Mass City, L’Anse, Bruce Crossing, and Watersmeet. Encompassing the northern region of the destination is Lake Superior, with the eastern half of Michigan’s upper peninsula surrounding the east, and the northern borders of the state of Wisconsin bordering the southern and western surroundings of the Copper Harbor Destination.
Ottawa National Forest, one such attraction that draws in a number of tourists annually, covers an expanse of almost one million acres of land, containing an abundance of wildlife such as wolves, deer, bears, bald eagles, and coyotes. Outdoor recreation can be available during all seasons of the year, as visitors to the area can engage in skiing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, and ice-fishing during the winter months. Access to Lake Superior and Black Harbor Recreation Area are additionally available at Ottawa National Forest. Various campgrounds dot the national forest, as well as waterfalls, trails, over 500 named lakes, and nearly 2,000 miles of rivers and streams that fishermen can explore. Sylvania Wilderness Backcountry Camping, in particular, is an area where rare orchids and other plant life grow in the area, also including many species of fish that inhabit the lakes of Sylvania such as Native Trout, Bass, Panfish, Walleye, and Pike. In addition to fishing, recreation such as canoeing, kayaking, and other non-motorized vehicle activities are also available, as well as hiking and wildlife viewing.
Baraga State Park can function as a basecamp for travelers who are touring Michigan’s upper peninsula, with the location being within proximity to the other state parks. Similar activities provided at the other state parks can also be found at Baraga State Park, as there are many opportunities for visitors to go boating, swimming, camping, hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Another notable park that can be found nearby is Twin Lakes State Park, which includes a campground that takes up nearly 175 acres of land, with 62 available RV sites.
Keweenaw Bay Peninsula, most notable for being composed of some of the oldest exposed rock in the world, is technically an island rather than a peninsula, as the Portage Canal separates the peninsula from the sister cities. Native American history is evident in Keweenaw Bay Peninsula, beginning with the name origins that derive from the Objibwa word for “to portage,” due to the fact that at the time, the area was used as a shortcut for natives when traveling by canoes. The exposed rocks within the environment date back to nearly 1.1 billion years ago. Regardless of its prominent historical background, a modern touch is evident in Keweenaw Bay Peninsula, as several restaurants, shops, galleries, local music, and an artisan community have become an addition to the area.
Throughout the course of a year, Copper Harbor, the namesake of the destination, has temperatures that range from 13 degrees Fahrenheit to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, with windy and somewhat cloudy summers, and snowy, windy winters. It is said that mid-July through late August is the best time of year to visit Copper Harbor, for those who hope to engage in activities that may require warmer weather. The months with the highest temperatures typically last a little over three months from mid-June to late September, with the hottest month for the area being August. Temperatures reach an average high of about 71 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low of 58 degrees Fahrenheit during August, though the warm season’s average temperatures usually stay near 62 degrees Fahrenheit. As for the coldest time of year in Copper Harbor, which typically lasts almost three and a half months, the average daily high temperature is below 34 degrees Fahrenheit, from December to March. January, the coldest month of the year, has an average high of 25 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low of 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
An abundance of varying wildlife can be found in the Copper Harbor Destination, especially considering the geographical features including mountain ranges, lakes, and forested areas that cover much of the land and provide a home for such fauna. Some of the more commonly found animals in the region are namely whitetail deer, porcupines, flying squirrels, beavers, red squirrels, chipmunks, American marten, river otters, bobcats, coyotes, snowshoe hares, red fox, gray fox, and striped skunks. Gray wolves and cougars have also been seen in the area, although it’s a rare sighting. During the winter season, wildlife is more difficult to see, though the snow-shoe hare and short-tailed weasel, in particular, take on a white winter coat that visitors to the area may potentially see. Whitetail deer also transform from a red fur coat in the summer to a more dull, gray winter coat.
In historical times, an abundance of copper could be found in the Keweenaw Peninsula, before European settlers and traders had arrived on the land. According to evidence provided by archaeologists, over 7,000 years ago, ancient inhabitants had dug pits into the ground, using sizable rocks to divide the copper from the rocks that were without value. For thousands of years, the continuation of this mining process and copper quarrying took place as they created various items including beads, ornaments, knives, and fish hooks, all of which were made for trading purposes. Following 1837, the year Michigan gained statehood, the first state geologist, Douglass Houghton, was given the task to conduct a state geological survey to explore the minerals of the region. La Roche Verte, currently located near the Copper Harbor Lighthouse, was the first location Houghton visited, knowing that there would be copper in this particular area prior to traveling there. The element that Houghton had found to be most impressive was the blue and green streaks of the oxidized copper, which he found great value in. The Keweenaw’s copper deposits were described in Houghton’s report that was published in 1840. Opportunists who had discovered that copper was rich in that region caused a land rush when they attempted to acquire such copper. What is now known as Hayes Point was named after John Hayes who was among the opportunists, in addition to the Pittsburgh and Boston Mining Company.
By 1846, the copper boom hit its peak; however, in 1844, the U.S. government established Fort Wilkins with the intent to oversee Copper Harbor’s Mineral Land Agency, plus they desired to protect their interests in the newly discovered copper boom. After historical events took place including the Civil War in 1867 and the U.S. war with Mexico, Fort Wilkins became a state park in 1923, which is, in current times, open to tourists.
Roads that would lead to or through Copper Harbor did not exist at the time of the first mining rush, as boats were the main source of transportation for people or supplies. In 1848, Congress decided to construct Copper Harbor’s first lighthouse, due to the severe storms of Lake Superior. In addition to Whitefish Point, the first lighthouse was lit in 1849, Lake Superior’s first two operating lighthouses. In today’s time, the lighthouse is still being maintained, although access is not given to visitors.
One notable historic site that can be found an hour's drive from Copper Harbor is the Keweenaw National Historic Park. The main intent of the park is to "preserve and interpret the story of the rise, domination, and decline of the region's copper industry." The Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission is partnered with the U.S. Congress to bring about certain aspects to the historical sites including the Keweenaw Heritage Sites program. Stretching along the length of the Keweenaw Peninsula, these Keweenaw Heritage Sites occupy land, from Copper Harbor to the south of Ontonagon.
AJ's Walleye Lodge is located along the northern shoreline of Lake Gogebic. The lodge is placed on two acres of land backing up to the lake and Ottawa National Forest. There are thirteen rooms and suites at the lodge, varying in size and amenities. The larger rooms have full kitchens and can sleep up to ten people, while the smaller rooms can sleep up to four guests. The property is open year-round, with the winter and summer months being most popular for the snowmobiling trails and watersports. Those who visit AJ's Walleye Lodge can also eat at AJ's Oven located on the property....Read More