Looking for an idyllic Wisconsin getaway? Featuring incredible waterfalls, relaxation, and recreational opportunities, Copper Falls State Park is one of the most popular RV destinations in Wisconsin, and for good reason! Consisting of 3,068 acres and established in large part due to the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1929, Copper Falls State Park is a true gem.
The Bad River, Tyler Forks River, Murphy Lake, and Loon Lake make the park a huge attraction to RV travelers who love water. The Bad River creates several amazing waterfalls that are easily accessed by well-maintained hiking trails around the gorge. The park's namesake waterfall drops 30 feet and is an easy 1.5-mile loop from the main parking area. The lakes are great for canoeing and non-motorized boats, and all of the water is open to fishing. To top it all off, the shore of Loon Lake is pleasantly sandy and offers a perfect place to cool off and swim in the summer. The recreational opportunities extend into the winter too, as the park plows and maintain access for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the very snowy winters.
Another great feature about Copper Falls State Park is the many camping options for you to choose from. There are two RV-friendly campgrounds that have a total of 56 sites, including 32 that are equipped with electrical hookups. There is also an ADA-accessible cabin, group camping area, and backpack site for visitors not bringing an RV. Copper Falls State Park is open all year round, with the peak season running from May until October.
Copper Falls State Park is located around two miles north of Mellen in northern Wisconsin. Driving to and from the park shouldn't be difficult for any camper that is around 69 feet or smaller since the roads are kept in very good condition with no obstacles that would cause you issues. There is one entrance to the park that is easy to find since it is located off Copper Falls Road. The only way to get to Copper Falls Road is to take the WI-169 Highway north through Mellen or south if you are coming from the north.
Need to pick up some supplies before your trip? Since Copper Falls State Park is located in a fairly rural area, you will have to stop by some of the smaller towns on the way to the park. Mellen is the most convenient since it is only two miles away, but there are other options, such as Glidden (around 18 miles away), Ashland (around 25 miles away), and Ironwood (around 28 miles away). The closest major city to Copper Falls State Park is Duluth, which is around 92 miles to the northwest. Copper Falls State Park is also home to plenty of parking areas if you are just visiting for the day, including at Loon Lake and the park office.
Navigating to the park during the wintertime can be a little difficult due to the snowfall in the area. Sometimes the snow will cut off access to the park, so if you are worried about the conditions you can call the park office prior to your departure to confirm that the park will be open.
The most popular choice for RV lovers visiting Copper Falls State Park is the North Campground. This is the larger of the two campgrounds and is preferred by most RVers since all of the sites here containing electric hookups.
Along with having electric hookups, sites in the North Campground are quite large and flat, so it is unlikely that you will need to use leveling blocks when you are setting up camp. Like the sites in the South Campground, there is a picnic table and fire ring, and the campground is also equipped with vault toilets and four water collection points. The dump station and bathhouses are only found in the South Campground, so be prepared for a walk to use the showers.
North Campground is also open all year round, and due to the bonus of electrical sites, reservations will be necessary, especially if you are visiting during the peak months.
The South Campground is the smaller of the two RV-friendly accommodation areas within Copper Falls State Park. There are a total of 22 sites for you to choose from, all of which are primitive, with no electric, water, or sewer hookups available. Since there are no electric sites, the South Campground is quieter during the peak months, but you can still expect to have camping neighbors.
One advantage of staying in the South Campground is that you will be close to the other shower block in the park. Each site also comes with a picnic table and fire ring for some campfire treats, and there is also a dump station located near its entrance. All of the sites are also pet-friendly, and you should be able to get cell phone reception on all of the major networks.
South Campground is open all year round; however, during the winter months, some services won't be available, such as the showers and the water collection point.
There are no first-come, first-served-specific sites for RV campers visiting Copper Falls State Park, but if you are planning on using the backpack camping site, you won't have to worry about making a reservation since it is walk-in only.
All sites that haven't been reserved in both campgrounds will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, but during the summertime, this will be a rarity since both campgrounds are usually very busy. For this reason, first-come, first-served camping is best to be done during the winter months.
Located to the west of the South Campground is the perfect place for groups to stay during their visit to Copper Falls State Park. The Group Campground is located within the trees of the park and features enough room for up to 40 people to stay. No RVs are allowed at the Group Campground, but there is parking space available for a maximum of 10 vehicles since the area is mostly paved. There is a vault toilet at the group site, but there are no other major amenities, so be prepared for a primitive camping experience. The group campground is open for reservations during the months of mid-May through mid-October.
If you've decided to leave your RV at home, you will still be able to use both campgrounds since tents are allowed. If you are planning on staying in a tent, be prepared to pay the same fees as RV travelers and be sure to stay in the North Campground if you would like power during your trip.
If you are looking for a walk-in campground, the park also has one backpack campsite that is located around two miles away from the main park area. Here you will find enough room for six campers and a vault toilet. This is the only site in the park that is tent-only, but if you wish to use it, be prepared for the hike.
Another accommodation option for visitors to Copper Falls State Park is an ADA-accessible rustic cabin. The cabin has some great features, including power inside and a picnic table and fire ring outside. Up to four people can stay inside the cabin thanks to the double bed and bunk beds, but if you have extra visitors there is also enough room for a two-person tent. If you need to use the showers or bathrooms, there are facilities around 200 feet away from the cabin.
If you wish to stay at the cabin, you will need to book a reservation prior to your arrival via the online reservation platform. Please note that you can't cook, use a heater, or bring a pet into the cabin unless it is a service animal.
Loon Lake, on the south end of Copper Falls State Park, provides a perfect size for canoes, kayaks, and car-top boats. Only electric motors are allowed on the lake, so keep that in mind if you are bringing your own watercraft. There is a boat launch to help you get out on the water, and it is also a great fishing spot thanks to the crystal clear and healthy water. If you are looking for even more fun out on the water, there are larger lakes within 10 miles of the park that have boat launches and opportunities for larger watercraft.
Copper Falls State Park is a photographer's dream. The waterfalls are constantly changing due to seasonal water levels. Spring and fall cause enormous changes in the trees, vegetation, birds, and other wildlife viewable in the park. The miles of trails give up-close access to all of it, whether you only have time for a quick walk, or you're prepared to stick around and take everything in. Even in the heavy snow and ice of winter, the park maintains access for visitors. In addition to plants and flowers, Copper Falls has a tremendous variety of wildlife. There are regular sightings of black bears, elk, deer, porcupines, and squirrels. If you're hoping to capture photos of nature, you've come to the right spot.
Visiting during the winter? Get ready for it to be cold, but there are plenty of fun activities to keep you warm. There are both classical and skate-ski trails available for cross-country skiers visiting the park in winter. About 20 miles of trail are specifically maintained for skiing, which is a serious job in northern Wisconsin since snow is falling almost constantly. There is a variety of terrain, but nothing steep in the park. Snowshoeing and winter hiking are allowed on other trails in the park but not on the ski trails. The frozen falls and river in winter are excellent photo opportunities with a telephoto lens and tripod.
There are 17 miles of trails throughout the park so there will be plenty of places for hiking lovers to explore. The centerpiece Copper Falls is only a short 15-minute hike from the main parking lot, and there are enough loops around to Loon Lake and other waterfalls to make a good day of hiking. The campgrounds are in the center of all the trails, so you'll never be too far from your car and the restrooms. The trails are frequently noted for being in excellent condition and a few are even leveled enough to be ADA-accessible. The topography is very flat in this region, so don't expect sweeping vistas of the countryside. There is a large observation tower in the parking lot which, even 30 feet in the air, still only provides a view of trees.
The 32-acre Loon Lake is a popular swim spot in summer, perfect for visitors wanting to escape the summer heat. The lake has a sandy shore swimming area that is roped off from the boaters and fishermen, so you will have a safe place to splash about. The water in the lake is very clean, and if you are a little peckish after your dip, you can head to the nearby concession stand for a bite to eat. There are no lifeguards on duty at Loon Lake so swim to your abilities.
Northern Wisconsin is heaven for fishermen, and Copper Falls is right in the center of the action. The Bad and Tyler Forks rivers have opportunities for several kinds of trout and fly fishing, while Loon lake is known for pike, bass, and walleye. The bass put up a great fight and make even this small lake feel like a serious angler's destination. Small boats and canoes can be launched at the sandy shore on Loon Lake, but only electric motors are allowed in order to keep it peaceful in the park. Check with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources about regulations and licensing details and fees.