A Story That Began Over One Billion Years Ago
Numerous chapters have been written that together form the natural history of the Copper Country. They range from major geologic events that began over one billion years ago to the protection of the area’s special natural resources that people advocate for today.
For centuries people have been attracted here because of the valuable resources that nature provided – most notably copper. The relationship between the Copper Country’s natural history and economy is not the entire story.
Copper Country Forests & Flora
We are all subject to the rhythms of nature, and there is no better indicator in the Copper Country than the trees and plants. They will tell you when fall is around the corner with changes in color and when spring has finally returned with the peeking of buds.
The forests of the Copper Country provide both natural beauty and livelihood. Prior to settlement, the region’s forests were a mix of northern hardwoods and softwoods, with maple, birch, and hemlock predominant. Pure or nearly pure stands of pine, primarily white pine, occurred at numerous locations. Extensive logging over the years, subsequent fires, and interludes of farming have altered the composition of the forests in the region. The mixed northern hardwood and hemlock forests more closely resemble their pre-settlement counterparts. However, the pine forests have largely been replaced by aspen and birch, jack pine, or open field.
Keweenaw's Diverse Geology
The Keweenaw has a very strong geoheritage that is embodied by huge lava flows, redbed sandstones, conglomerates, and copper. Whether you are collecting rocks or admiring the unique topography, there are a myriad of activities and locales to discover.
The topography of the Keweenaw is characterized by rolling terrain and rugged hills and cliffs. You can quickly climb from lake level (602 feet) to the top of one of the mounts at almost 1900 feet. The Keweenaw Fault, a major geologic feature, bisects the peninsula on a northeast-southwest line running from the tip near Copper Harbor through Houghton County to the Michigan-Wisconsin border north of Ironwood.
The Keweenaw’s geologic diversity is one of its most outstanding scenic attractions, with the great ridges of ancient Precambrian rock offering magnificent views of the peninsula and Lake Superior.
Lake Superior & Inland Waters
The Keweenaw presents a rugged exterior, but the way to its heart is water. The Copper Country Trail can take you along 165 miles of shoreline on the world’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior, as well as 96 miles of coastline on the Keweenaw Waterway. The other water features of the area include countless inland lakes, rivers, and too many waterfalls to count.
Copper Country Fauna
Humans are not the only creatures that inhabit the Copper Country. Much of the landscape remains wild, so there is plenty of habitat for eagles, black bear, white-tailed deer, and other animals to live alongside us.
Fishing and hunting are popular recreational activities in the Keweenaw. Wildlife viewing, especially bird watching, is a large draw, as the Keweenaw is a major stopping point for many birds, including thousands of hawks, during spring and fall migration periods. Typical wildlife species include waterfowl, birds, big game, and small game. Fish species include trout, salmon whitefish, and walleye.
Aurora Borealis Night Sky Dancing
With relatively low light pollution due to small town and city sizes, you only need to take a short drive out of town to find picturesque viewing points for the Northern Lights, made even more grand when sitting along the shores of Lake Superior.