When craving the solace of the outdoors, with enough room to breathe and keep a social distance, the state parks and reserves of the Driftless can offer you the outdoor recreation you love with the space you need. Be sure to check ahead to see if offered services are available.
Look forward to your future vacation in Southwest Wisconsin and learn what the Driftless is all about. Click to order a map and start the daydream.
Click to order or download a map and start the daydream.
Wyalusing’s fourteen miles of hiking trails may take you near the steep bluffs the park is known for. Trails vary in difficulty and you could find yourself navigating steep climbs and stairs, or ambling along a wide level trail. The park also offers two mountain bike trails and a canoe trail through the backwater sloughs of the Mississippi River. These backwaters offer excellent fishing for panfish, bass, northern pike and walleye.
Where to begin? A local group of astronomers utilizes the park for stargazing. That should be a pretty good indication that the skies are going to be nice and dark at night. Bring your telescope and let the kids stay up late on a clear night.
One of the most spectacular views of the Mississippi River Valley can be found atop the 500 foot high bluff at Pikes Peak. Just across the river in Iowa, this park also offers trails that lead to an overlook of the town of McGregor, to Bridal Veil Falls, and to Bear Mound Effigy. This is one of the most picturesque regions of the Iowa side of the river valley and you will find that the bluffs and valleys offer one scenic view after another.
Where to begin? Fossil remains can be found along the trails in this park. Brush up on your knowledge of brachiopods, gastropods and cephalopods. So you know what you’re looking for.
Just seven miles north of Pikes Peak is Effigy Mounds National Monument. Over 200 Native American Mounds can be found within this park. Bears and birds are common shapes along with oblong and simple mounds. The adventurous can choose from 3 to 7 mile long hikes to view many of the mounds within the park as well as several Mississippi River overlooks. Your dog is a welcome walking partner on the trail, as long as you have a leash and clean up after them.
Where to begin? If you are looking for just a quick tour of the mounds, driving tours are not allowed due to the sacred nature of the site, but there are short walks along accessible trails to several of the mounds.
With 24 campsites for equestrians and 15 miles of horse trail loops, Wildcat Mountain is unique in offering space and trails for the horseback riders among us. The park has over 20 miles of hikeable trails with several vista overlooks. Anglers will enjoy the Kickapoo River, it is considered a class II trout stream in the park with a population of Brown Trout. The rivers of the park have carved winding, steep valleys in the rock.
Where to begin? Bring along your canoe or kayak and paddle the Kickapoo River. Kickapoo is Algonquin for “one who goes here, then there”. An apt name for a winding river that goes in every which direction while it meanders along.
Kickapoo Valley Reserve (KVR)
8,600 acres of public land make up this reserve. More than enough room to lose yourself in nature. The park has rustic trails for mountain biking, hiking, and equestrian trails; some are multi-use. Only half of the 25 campsites are drivable to, others are hike or bike in, or even canoe in. The cost to camp is very reasonable, and the Reserve asks that you leave no trace and take out what you brought in with you.
Where to begin? Try the KVR Trail Challenge. If you hike all 50 trail segments (many of them quite short and doable) you will win a small prize and a chance to win a bigger one. Kids just have to complete 20 segments.