Featured Photo by Prairie Du Chien
Road trip! Hit the open road and head towards something fun and exciting to do for a weekend getaway or vacation out of the La Crosse area. Gas up the car, grab a snack for the drive, and check out this weekend getaway idea within driving distance!
Wisconsin State Parks and Natural Areas Nearby Prairie Du Chien
Wisconsin’s beautiful Driftless Area covers Crawford County, Vernon County, and the Kickapoo Valley in the southwest region of the state. Due to the lack of glacial drift, this area is characterized by rugged and steep landscapes, a large concentration of cold water streams, and natural features such as limestone, caves, and springs. These features make the region perfect for outdoor recreation and adventure, providing a wealth of scenic views, natural areas, and wildlife waiting to be explored.
The Mississippi River and the Wisconsin River are the two largest rivers in the Driftless region, and are home to many unique river towns and communities. One of these communities is Prairie Du Chien, a hub for tourism and outdoor recreation along the Mississippi River in Southwest Wisconsin. Nearby this river town are Wisconsin state parks and state natural areas you can visit anytime of the year to catch a glimpse of the Driftless region’s natural beauty and spend some time in the great outdoors. Here are some of the best outdoor recreation areas near Prairie Du Chien.
If you’re interested in camping, you’ll be happy to know that the park offers many options. There are two family campgrounds, the Wisconsin Ridge Campground and the Homestead Campground, an outdoor group camp, and the Hugh Harper indoor group camp lodge. During your stay, you can explore 14 miles of hiking trails, some with steep climbs and stairways, or head to the boat ramp to hop on the Mississippi or Wisconsin River. You may also enjoy the 6 mile, maintained canoe trail on the backwaters of the Mississippi where you can explore in a kayak or canoe.
To start your adventure, put your watercraft in at the boat launch in downtown Wauzeka and paddle southeast. Once you’ve arrived at the natural area you are free to explore at your will. Wauzeka Bottoms is full of beautiful flora and fauna, including maple, oak, and birch trees, bright red cardinal flower, and plenty of bird species like pileated woodpeckers, blue-gray gnatcatchers, brown creepers, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers. Spend some time viewing the wildlife and nature, and enjoy the peace and quiet of this natural area.
Photo by Kickapoo Valley Reserve
Like most state natural areas, the Kickapoo Wild Woods State Natural Area has few public facilities but is open for a variety of recreational activities year round. You can hike, fish, hunt, and trap during the designated seasons, and cross country ski during the winter. The natural area is great for exploring the Driftless region’s relatively natural and untouched areas, especially if you enjoy solitude in the outdoors.
Photo by Slatan
For hiking, the park has 2.5 miles of trails that go around the base of Belmont Mound, through the center of the park, and to a loop in the northeast corner. You can easily explore all of the trails within a few hours and be rewarded with some epic views and fresh air. There is also a picnic area with a playground near the park entrance, which is great to relax and recoup after exploring the park.
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