Wisconsin is a natural wonder in and of itself. Nestled between two Great Lakes and along the mighty Mississippi, freshwater is abundant; while rocky bluffs to the west and dense forests to the north create a uniquely diverse terrain. No matter where you find yourself in Wisconsin, natural beauty is waiting just around the corner.
Have you ever seen a bald eagle before? The back of a quarter doesn’t NEARLY do it justice. These majestic creatures have made a resurgence across Wisconsin and live here year-round! In fact 71 of 72 Wisconsin counties now have documented active eagle nests! Start your bald eagle sighting road trip in the La Crosse area, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Visitor Center overlooks Lake Onalaska. More than 300 pairs of bald eagles nest the refuge and can be seen year-round. Hike the two miles of paved trails or check out the river walk exhibit which allows visitors to “walk on water” and see fish swimming down below on both sides of the boardwalk. Head south toward Prairie du Chien along scenic Highway 35, the Wisconsin Great River Road, and keep your eyes to the sky along the way! Apparently, eagles are used to the hum of motorized vehicles these days and aren’t scared off. Research nesting locations and feeding spots at the Prairie du Chien Chamber website. If you haven’t seen an eagle yet, pull off at River View Park in Ferryville – home to high quality wetland areas, this observatory is an eagle spotting hub! After a long day of driving, grab a bite to eat at The Barn in Prairie du Chien, known for its unique rustic atmosphere and huge menu featuring fresh made pasta, pizza, steak, fish and ribs. Spend the night at the Waterfront Hotel located in the heart of downtown Prairie du Chien with gorgeous views of the Mississippi.
Wild Rivers near Florence (Florence County)
Rivers run rampant in northern Wisconsin and the 100-mile Wisconsin Wild Rivers Tour provides highway signs that guide you to 15 different access points on the Pine and Popple Wild Rivers. A wild river is kept in its natural state, generally inaccessible except by trail. These river sections are preserved and protected to provide unique water recreation like canoeing, kayaking tubing and fishing, while also carving a beautiful landscape for hiking, birding, foraging and chasing waterfalls. Hike to La Salle Falls – about 9 miles south of Florence. With a 22 foot plummet and 35 foot rock outcrop next to the falls, it’s a must see Wisconsin waterfall. After a day on the river, be one of the very first customers at the brand new Ash’s Restaurant in Florence, scheduled to open April 7th. Enjoy casual fine dining in the woods where Chef Scott makes everything from scratch at this Northwoods supper club. Cozy up by the fire and watch the colors dance on Lake Fisher at the Lakeside Bed & Breakfast in Florence. Every stay includes a delicious homemade full breakfast served in the sun filled, lakeview dining room.
Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest near Plymouth (Sheboygan County)
The Kettle Moraine was created more than 10,000 years ago when two glacial sheets collided, creating friction and land buckling. The area is dotted with lakes, moraines, high hills and kames – hills formed by piles of sediment that were deposited when the glaciers retreated. Venture to Long Lake Recreation Area and check out the largest kame in the entire state forest by hiking the Summit Trail at Dundee Mountain. While the nature trail loop is only 0.75 miles long, it’s a strenuous hike with a 200-foot elevation gain in just a quarter-mile. Though it’s a bit of a climb, the sweeping panoramic views from the top are incredibly worth it. Cool off after the hike at one of Long Lake’s two swimming beaches. Stop for dinner and spend the night in Plymouth at the historic boutique hotel, the Fig and Pheasant B&B. Ronna and Patrick O’Toole are skilled chefs that delight in offering culinary and cocktail adventures for their guests. The hotel has a pub as well as fine dining and craft cocktails curated with premium liquors and exciting wines. Guests can enjoy a social hour with wine and hors d’oeuvre in the lobby between 4:30-5:30, along with gourmet breakfast in the morning, both complimentary with your stay.
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For more great travel ideas and resources, visit TravelWisconsin.com or call 1-800-432-TRIP.