Fall colors in Baraboo, Wisconsin

Long time since I was able to post something for you all! My apologies. Sometimes life just gets a little crazy and I can’t post as frequently as I would like. I had several wedding this year that I was either a bridesmaid in or traveled to be a part of. That didn’t leave much time for photo shoots, though I did get lots of beautiful images at the weddings. 🙂

That being said, I did get an opportunity to head south with my co-worker Angela (CHECK OUT HER BRAND NEW BLOG HERE!! She’s a great photographer!!) to photograph the beautiful fall colors and landscapes. Angela and I always like to make the most of our photo excursions, so we try to hit up a bunch of places when we go. For this trip we traveled to Baraboo, Wisconsin. Here we photographed several places including Devil’s Lake State Park, Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area, Hyde’s Mill, Natural Bridge State Park, and Baxter’s Hollow. The beauty of all these areas is that they are only about a 15 min drive in any direction to get to.

We headed out straight after work in hopes to capture some beautiful fall color illuminated by the last hour of sunlight. We stopped at Devil’s Lake State Park first, photographing around the lake and beach areas, and a bit on the trail. Admittedly, I spent a lot of time at first clicking away in the parking lot of all places. Angela had to remind me that there was SO much more to see. I guess I got distracted by all the color, I didn’t even care where it was located.

Devil’s Lake was beautiful. So much color, and of course there were lots of gorgeous rock formations, often covered in a thin layer of moss or lichen. The colors were astounding. Drives covered in a canopy of buttery yellow leaves, trails dotted with intensely bright red maple leaves beneath a layer of crunchy leaves past their prime. We stayed photographing until the sun was about shot, then we drove to the south part of the park. Here we stayed photographing the last bit of sun fading behind the bluffs. We decided that the south park would be a great place to head back to later, as we wanted to try photographing star trails and light painting.







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From there we drove back to our hotel, the Campus Inn Motel. Angela and I have now agreed that on any future trips we are willing to pay a bit more for a hotel. The motel was shabby, to say the least. The man who I assumed owned it was a very kind man, but his kindness did not make up for the poor condition of the room we stayed in. Most of the time I’m a pretty easy to please person when it comes to travel. So long as I have a bed, I’m good. However, this room had a door that would jam so that neither inside or outside could the door be opened without a significant amount of fumbling. In addition to this, the only way the room was heated with a space heater…can anyone say FIRETRAP?? The tiling in the bathroom shower had black mold on it, and throughout the room were “jerry rigged” repairs in almost every direction you could look. Luckily we spent most of our time out photographing, so sleep was the only time we were there. It makes for a funny story now, but has definitely convinced me to upgrade for the next time around. 🙂

Once the stars were out we headed back to  Devil’s Lake. I spent some time photographing star trails, while Angela began working on light painting an image of boats stacked up against the shoreline. A few shots in I joined Angela. I haven’t worked much with light painting, so this was new territory for me. Angela has worked with it in the past, so it was nice to have her expertise to draw from.




We got back to our hotel a little bit before midnight and went straight to bed as the next morning would be an early one. We were headed to Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area to capture early morning photos. Pewit’s Nest is a pretty fantastic place to visit, photography or not. Pewit’s Nest is a 30- to 40-foot deep gorge formed during the retreat of the last glacier. According to the DNR, when Glacial Lake Baraboo drained, Skillet Creek cut a narrow canyon through the Cambrian sandstone, forming a series of potholes and waterfalls. A variety of trees dotted the landscape providing a range of color from red, yellow, and orange. Apparently this area once was the location for a waterwheel. It was rumored that before the watermill was built, an individual lived in the solid sand stone like a gnome in a cavern. It is no wonder this place resonated with me…it has a history that is close to my heart! 🙂 This was probably my favorite of all the places we visited during this trip. However, it was plagued with photographers. This was at one point a closely held secret, but it is clear that secret has gotten out as we were working around 5 other photographers. Everyone was courteous, or at least for a time courteous. It can be frustrating having to work so closely to other photographers, but I try to keep awareness with me that they are just trying to find that magic shot for themselves…and that it is here for everyone to enjoy. It is not exclusively my natural area. 🙂  Angela had the fore thought to bring waders with so we could climb down the sandstone cliffs and into the water to get close and more interesting shots of the waterfalls and surrounding areas.












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After we were finished at Pewit’s Nest we headed back to the hotel to grab our free breakfast and to come up with a game plan for the rest of the day. Somewhere in between eating breakfast and getting back to the hotel I felt really sick. I kept feeling like I was going to throw up. I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling so we decided to stay in the hotel room for a little bit and edit images while I rested up. Once I felt better we headed off towards Baxter’s Hollow. Once we were there we walked on a trail for a bit. There wasn’t much around to photograph and I began to get a feeling that we weren’t going to see much. We had been on the trail for  about 45 minutes and we decided to head out so we could move on to other photo opportunities. Along the trail we ran into an older gentleman who we dubbed “gramps” who told us about a few other areas nearby that would be good photographic opportunities. We headed to Natural Bridge State Park, which was quite busy with other hikers and photographers. We weren’t terribly impressed with the trail, though the natural bridge was neat to see. I took a few pictures here, and then we made our way back to the car.






We drove to a few other places, all of which turned out to be nothing terribly special. We decided to cut our losses and make our way to Hyde’s Mill which was about an hour’s drive southwest of where we were. This was a place Angela was really wanting to get to, and with good reason! Hyde’s Mill is a stone dam and wooden watermill that was built in 1850. This was another frequently visited stop, though most of the other photographers were just using their cell phones and didn’t stop for very long. Angela and I waited until the golden hour so we could photograph less interrupted. I got some really nice shots of the sunset hitting the watermill and falls. After the sun went down we drove into town to grab dinner, then headed back to try our luck at light painting.







After the light painting we drove back to our motel and spent way too much time editing through our shots, until we realized it was WAY past our bedtimes. We hit the sack and woke up the next morning, fully intending to go back out for more sunrise photos. We quickly realized sleep was more precious and chose to sleep in. We headed back eventually to Devil’s Lake to photograph more of the park. I tried to focus more on macro shots, or different perspectives as most of my shots consisted of wide angle viewpoints. We also drove around some of the bluffs and got some nice shots of iconic fall rural Wisconsin scenes.











We had packed up all our gear before we headed out for the day, so once we were happy with everything we photographed we decided to head back home. The Packer game was on the radio and we listened to that on the way home. The last quarter I felt like I was constantly on the edge of my seat. At one point I had my head in my lap because I was so nervous about trying to get that last touchdown. Luck was in the air and the Pack pulled through, in the last three seconds scoring a game winning touchdown!! How fun to listen while we drove back home from an amazing weekend.

I had a blast on this trip and I think I came away with several beautiful images. I hope you enjoy them! Be sure to check out Angela’s blog too! It always amazes me the different perspectives two people can come away with, even if they are standing just feet apart from one another. Below are a few more fall scenes that I shot around in Appleton and also down by our family cabin in Boscobel, WI.













One Reply to “Fall colors in Baraboo, Wisconsin”

  1. Prahl, Nancy says:

    Oh my Charlene, these are incredible. A far cry from the few shots I’ve taken this fall with my digital. Please continue to send when you get a chance.

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