Opening Day

May 6th, 2011 by

Not coincidentally, Driftless Wisconsin is ready too.  May 1 marks the opening day for attractions, trails, and all things outdoors. Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and Father’s Day are just around the corner and Driftless Wisconsin can pack more into every day than any holiday can hold. 

Inland trout season begins the first Saturday in May – the catch and release season began in March, but let’s not quibble over details – so now you can stalk a brook trout without worrying about snow flurries.  On the Mississippi River, bass and pan fish seasons are continuous, but be careful where you fish; your favorite ice-fishing hole has disappeared.  A safe bet would be Clements Fishing Barge in Genoa, located just below Lock and Dam #8 on a prime fishing location. 

In Westby, the Syttende Mai Celebration and Parade on May 13 – 15 kicks off many summer festivals and parades. You don’t need to be Norwegian to enjoy this celebration of Westby’s Scandinavian heritage.  Afterwards, you can travel to Vernon Vineyards, near Viroqua to sample their wine while enjoying a spectacular view of Newton Valley.   On the way, stop at the Viroqua Farmer’s Market, held each Saturday morning from May to October in historic downtown Viroqua. 

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the bike, equestrian, and hiking trails in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve opened on May 1. There’s no better way to experience the serenity of the Kickapoo Valley than up close and personal on a backwoods trail.  Some trails might be closed due to wet condition, so check their website for details.  

In Prairie du Chien, the Villa Louis Historic Site opened on April 30, and the highlight of May will be “Breakfast in a Victorian Kitchen” on May 21.  Billed as a “culinary tour of the late 19th century,” the event will offer an intimate look inside the Victorian mansion. Reservations are required.  Also in Prairie du Chien, the Fort Crawford Museum opened on May 1 and provides a glimpse into City and regional history in the reconstructed Fort Hospital. 

Once the Mississippi River settles down and returns to its banks after spring flooding, river excursions will also be opening in May.  The Mississippi Explorer out of Prairie du Chien hopes to be operating by May 14 with a “Bald Eagle Watching on the River” tour, while the Maiden Voyage, a Mississippi River excursion docking in McGregor, Iowa, opens on May 28.  Best to check ahead to confirm times.  

Our family met for an Easter Sunday picnic in what is becoming an annual tradition. My four-year-old grandson, Devin, brought his bat, ball, and glove to play what passes as baseball without rules. Every grounder is a home run and the opposing team never gets to bat.  But the season is upon us and it’s time to “play ball,” wherever that takes you in Driftless Wisconsin.