Copper Falls State Park

Copper Falls State Park is located at 36664 Copper Falls Rd n Mellen, Wisconsin. The park has a beautiful gorge, waterfalls, and scenic overlook to enjoy.

General Info

General:Copper Falls State Park is a 3,068-acre park in Ashland, County, Wisconsin with 17 miles of trails used for hiking, biking, and skiing. There are wooden bridges, walkways, stair sets, and paths with native plants, excellent birdwatching, and views of waterfalls.
County:Ashland County
Google Map Location:Google Map Location
Cost:Wisconsin State Park sticker (daily or yearly)

The Falls

The main waterfalls are Copper Falls (29 feet) and Brownstone Falls (30 feet) along with a beautiful rapid called the Cascades.

Doughboy Nature Trail

The Doughboy’s Nature Trail that runs along the Bad River was beautiful! You can walk sections of the trail without walking the entire 17 miles that loop that connects with the North country Trail and several additional trails. There are several stair sets and benches to sit on along sections.

The loop around the Bad River Gorge was 1.7 miles and has plenty of observation decks and scenic overlooks. The loop will allow you to get beautiful views of Brownstone falls, Copper Falls, the Cascades, and Devils Gate.

View this map to understand what I am talking about., look in the upper left-hand side of the map. If you only do one thing on your visit, hike this loop. The loop is a combination of trails.

The only thing we found disappointing was our pooch had to stay in the vehicle for that section. The Doughboy Nature trail doesn’t allow dogs, but the park does have another trail that does. We didn’t check that one out.

Plants You Might Encounter

Images & Videos From Copper Falls State Park

(Some images are videos. Click on pictures to open in larger screen)

Copper Falls State Park
Bad River | Mellen, Wisconsin
Copper Falls State Park | Mellen, Wisconsin
Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin (Video)
Bad River | Mellen, Wisconsin
Exploring Copper Falls State Park (Video)
Bad River Gorge
Copper Falls State Park | Mellen, Wisconsin
Video View of Waterfall Copper Falls State Park in Wisconsin
Exploring Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin (Video)
Copper Falls, Wisconsin (Video)
Copper Falls State Park (Video)
Copper Falls | Mellen, Wisconsin
Copper Falls (Video)
Copper Falls State Park Trail (Video)
Copper Falls | Mellen, Wisconsin
Bad River | Mellen, Wisconsin
Trail at Copper Falls State Park | Mellen, Wisconsin
Bridge at Copper Falls State Park | Mellen, Wisconsin
View of River at Copper Falls State Park | Mellen, Wisconsin
Hiking Along the Bad River | Mellen, Wisconsin
Bad River | Mellen, Wisconsin
Copper Falls | Mellen, Wisconsin
Pink Ladyslipper
Moss Covered Bench
Bridge Over Bad River Copper Falls State Park | Mellen, Wisconsin
Copper Falls State Park | Mellen, Wisconsin
North Country National Scenic Trail | Mellen, Wisconsin
North Country National Scenic Trail | Mellen, Wisconsin
Heart Log
North Country National Scenic Trail | Mellen, Wisconsin

If you enjoy native wildflowers, bird watching, and nature consider spending a couple of days here. The park has campground accommodations for walk-in backpackers to traditional camping.

Map of Campground
Campground Reservations


Rock Island Wisconsin

Rock Island Wisconsin

912-acre island that takes two ferry rides to Rock Island Wisconsin. The first ferry leaves Gills Rock and travels to Washington Island. The second leaves Washington Island and brings you to Rock Island.

General Info

General:State Park that can be used for the day or offers primitive camping. Enjoy hiking, a lighthouse tour, a white sand beach, and beautiful views. It takes 2 ferry rides from the mainland of Door County. From Northport Pier, you take the Washington Island Ferry and from Washington Island, you take the Rock Island Ferry to Rock Island.
Hours:6 a.m. to 11 p.m
County:Door County
Google Map Location:Google Map Location
Cost:Two ferry rides. Camping. Docking Boat Over Night ($1.00 per foot first come first served)

Getting To Rock Island Wisconsin

You will need to load your vehicle onto the Ferry at Northport Pier on the Door County mainland because you will need to drive on Washington Island to Jackson Harbor to catch your second Ferry, called the Karfi.

Washington Island Ferry Schedule / Rock Island Ferry Schedule

Overnight parking is at the Karfi on Washington Island is free. The ferry ride from Washington Island to Rock Island is a 20 minutes ride and space is limited. There are no vehicles or bikes allowed on Rock Island.

If you are camping on the island, be sure to bring everything you need. There is no camp store on the island, but there is firewood. and water available. Reserve a Campsite.

Rock Island Wisconsin Boathouse

The first sight you see when approaching the island is the limestone monolith boathouse. It is a beautiful piece of architecture.

Most just call the boathouse the Rock Island boathouse, but it does have a name. The Chester Thordarson’s boathouse after the gentleman that built the structure.

Boathouse History

The boathouse started construction in 1910 by wealthy inventor Chester Thordarson. He purchased 775 acres of the island. 30 acres on the southwest side of the island were cleared in 1920 and Thordarson began construction of a summer estate.

All the limestone used to build the boathouse came from Rock Island.

Inside of The Boathouse

His large boathouse is open to the public. The interior features a 35-foot high beam ceiling and six feet wide chandelier made from oak that has buffalo horns.

All the wooden furniture on display was carved and features some form of Norse mythology.

Pottawatomie Lighthouse

Pottawatomie Lighthouse, is also known as the Rock Island Light it was lit in 1836 and is the oldest light station in Wisconsin and on Lake Michigan.

The lighthouse is located on the north side of the island. It is a one-and-a-half-mile walk to get to the lighthouse.

The 1-1/2 mile walk was a nicely shaded, wooded hike. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring bug spray, I was happy to have both.

Free Guided Tours

There are free guided tours are available on Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day weekend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.

Stairway and Beach Below The Lighthouse

Off to the right of the lighthouse, there are steps made of limestone that we followed down toward the lake.  Once we reached the bluff, there was a steep, three-tier set of wooden steps that we used to get down to the rocky shoreline.

We were just in time to see the sun setting.  It was beautiful!  A number of charter boats were off the shoreline and the magenta and ambered ribs of color in the sky were magnificent.


Two popular hiking trails are Thordarson Loop Trail, which is a six-mile loop around the island.

The second is the Havamal Trail Loop is a four-mile loop, both have a wonderful variety of wildflowers and views of Lake Michigan.

Download the Rock Island map here.

A Fire & Star Gazing

If there is one reason to camp on the island, it has to be the night sky. We stayed on our boat along the pier in front of the boathouse and had a fire in the pit on the beach. Let me tell you, I have NEVER seen a sky light up with so many stars in all my life. Absolutely amazing!

At around 11:00 the sky turns extremely dark.  On the outskirts of the city, where I live,  I thought I had seen plenty of stars.  I can tell you from experience, I hadn’t.  The Milky Way was clearly visible and millions of stars are prominently displayed in the night sky on Rock Island.  By far, the best place that I have found to stargaze.

Additional Places To Explore

Designs Available

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Copper Culture State Park

Copper Culture State Park

The 42-acre Copper Culture State Park is on the north side of the Oconto River, on the west side of the city of Oconto at 260 Copper Culture Way, Oconto, Wisconsin.

it is a very small park with about a half-mile hiking trail through the woods along the Oconto River and also another section of field area that has a mowed path of about another half mile.

Copper Culture State Park in Oconto County Wisconsin

General Info

General:State Park that can be used for the day the park has a museum, picnic area, bathrooms, a small walking path, and a river to view.  It is a nice leg stretch or even a good place to throw a line in the water to test your fishing luck.
Hours:11 a.m. to 5 p.m
County:Oconto County
Google Map Location:Google Map Location
Cost:Free (no state park sticker needed)

Full of History

This was the site of a prehistoric cemetery of the Old Copper Complex people who occupied the northern Midwest from ca. 4000 – 2000 BC and the site is believed to be the earliest known metalsmiths in the world.

Images From Copper Culture State Park

Copper Culture State Park in Oconto County is the perfect stop an hour or so. Stretch your legs with a short walk of under a mile, visit the museum, bird watch or sit along the river and listen to the flowing river.


Whitefish Dunes State Park

Whitefish Dunes State Park

Whitefish Dunes State Park is an 863-acre park in Door County, Wisconsin that has beautiful hiking trails a Lake Michigan beach, and the highest sand dunes in Wisconsin.

General Info

General:State Park has the highest sand dune beach in Wisconsin. Enjoy hiking, gorgeous views of Lake Michigan, and traversing the wooden boardwalk steps and paths searching for native plants.
County:Door County
Google Map Location:Google Map Location
Cost:Wisconsin State Park sticker (daily or yearly)

First Option To Enter Park

You can explore the trail along the shoreline of Lake Michigan from Cave Point County Park to Whitefish Dunes Park.

After viewing Cave Point head along the shore by the gazebo to pick up the trail. If you use this option, you will not be charged an entrance fee.

I do not recommend this option if you will be using the Whitefish Dunes beach for the day.

Entrance Fee

If you chose to enter Whitefish Dunes and park by car, there is a choice of purchasing a daily Wisconsin State Park pass or a yearly sticker. I highly recommend purchasing the yearly sticker if you plan on spending a few days in Door County.

The pass will get you into all the state parks in Door County, the county parks are all no-fee access parks.

List of State Parks In Door County:

Peninsula State Park, Fish Creek, WI
Newport State Park, Ellison Bay, WI
Potawatomi State Park, Sturgeon Bay, WI
Rock Island State Park, Rock Island, WI

Inside Whitefish Dunes State Park

The nature center inside the park.  Stop off here for a trail map or wildflower guide and get any questions you may have answered.

Check to see if they have any nature classes going on for the day or check out some of the displays.

Stop Off & Get A Selfie

To the left of the nature center is a birdfeeder and a long wooden boardwalk and platform. 

It is a good place to stop off and grab a selfie, Travel Wisconsin has a little setup on the platform.

This will be your first real glimpse of the dunes.

Overlooking The Beach & Lake Michigan

The view to the right off the end of the platform overlooks the aquamarine-colored Lake Michigan water and the start of the sand dune beach.

Around the bend after walking some wooden stair sets awaits a gorgeous beach.

The Park Is Dog Friendly

The park is dog-friendly, but if you are looking to head to the beach area that allows dogs, you will have to walk down the trail a bit.

The trails are all nicely groomed and well maintained. The trail markers are extremely clear and straightforward.

 3 Groups of Settlers Lived in The Park

You can stop off and view from afar some of the reconstructions of the settlers that lived in Whitefish Dunes Park along the path.

There are several on both sides of the trail that can be viewed from behind a wooden corral.

First Access Point To The Dunes

This is the first access point to the sand dunes.  Have a dog – keep trucking by.

The view from the top of the steps reveals beauty!

This is also the place to check-in if you are completing a kayak tour.

DC Adventure Center Kayak Tours

See my friends at DC Adventure Tours that meet and launch from the beach in the park for a kayak tour of the sea caves at Cave Point & the sand Dunes.

For ages 8+. No experience is necessary and ACA-standard instruction is provided.

The Lake Is Calming

This is a calm day on Lake Michigan with a perfect rhythmic wave action going, it could easily lull anyone to sleep. But, the Lake isn’t always this calm.

This Park Is Fabulous!

You Can Spend A Good Afternoon Here

You can easily spend an afternoon walking the short trails and enjoying the sandy beach.

However, you can also spend an hour walking through a short shady trail and climbing a few stair sets to view the sand dunes and beach.

No matter how you spend your time at Whitefish Dunes you will enjoy it, I promise! Need additional things to do in Door County, WI check out the growing collection of locations I have covered. I grew up in Door County, I know a thing or two 😉

Additional Door County Locations