Sunrise is when the magic happens at Wyalusing State Park in south west Wisconsin. Our rolling dairy land comes to a terminus at the mouth of the Wisconsin River, emptying its water and sediment into the Mississippi River. Perched on the high bluffs overlooking this junction is the most scenic campground in Wisconsin, make your reservations in advance.
Looking down at the morning fog that covers the Wisconsin River Valley.
Hiking the bluff trails in the campground.
Not a bad spot for a coffee break.
The upper campground is where you want to be, specifically the spots along the bluff's edge. We scored the last site by the parking lot but managed to have fun anyway. My Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister in-law, and their three boys had spots just down the road. It was a much needed family hang out weekend with a couple of adventures thrown in to keep the excitement up.
Home sweet home. Jr. North wanted to spend a night in the tent so we did that too.
Fire pits and grills at every site, it's good to know what you're working with.
Wood is available at the camp store, a walkable distance from the sites.
The beach just south of the State Park.
When the water is low you can walk out into the Mississippi River for hundreds of feet and barely get your knees wet. I set up some carp lines but the spot had no holes or structure to speak of. The swimming was excellent.
I took the boys on a short hike to visit the caves and explore the bluff. Starting at the Camp Store you can climb down the bluff and take a left to the caves. A right will take you on an adventure below the campground, spitting you out at its far end.
The terrain is steep!
Climbing up to the cave.
The limestone bluffs of the Driftless Area are full of caves, sinkholes, springs, and underground waterways. It's the defining feature of the area, feeding cold water to trout streams and sustaining rare ecosystems.
Looking north, Wisconsin River below.
Historic Buildings along Prairie du Chien's waterfront.
We stopped at the Depot for a fun, outdoor lunch.
Across The River, in Iowa, is Effigy Mounds National Monument, one of the greatest mound sites in the upper Midwest. If you have it in you to climb the height of the bluff in its entirety, do it. Otherwise, there is an excellent visitors' center full of history and artifacts.
Views from the top, looking down on the Yellow River emptying into the Mississippi.
I love a good 3D map.
Used by native peoples since the beginning, this church continues to host its congregation.
A line of mounds that mark the solstice, this calendar predates the Dakota.
The pre-history of mound building in the Americas is fascinating. If you, like me, were taught a primarily post-Columbian history, I highly recommend the book "1491" by Charles Mann.
If you get a chance, visit Wyalusing State Park and Effigy Mounds National Monument. Even if it's just to take a hike, you will not be disappointed. I also need to mention nearby McGregor Iowa for its lunch spots, winery, and antique book shop, where I stumbled upon "Longitude" by Dava Sobel. It covers the fascinating race to calculate longitude (position east or west) from the deck of a moving ship, which is way more important to our history than you know.
- Ride North
Wyalusing State Park | Effigy Mounds National Monument
Wed. August 18th - Sunday August 22nd