I enjoy exploring those bluffs along the Mississippi and Kickapoo Rivers. Generally speaking, the breathless walk up is rewarded by the breathtaking look down. The entire valley will simply not fit in a camera frame; you need to turn your head to catch where the river is coming from and going to.
There are numerous places to enjoy this vantage. Wildcat State Park near Ontario overlooks the meandering Kickapoo in Northern Driftless Wisconsin, while Wyalusing State Park oversees the Mississippi in the South. County parks, waysides, and overlooks are scattered in between, where you can get out of the car and venture a look.
For that walk along the river, consider the Kickapoo Valley Reserve near La Farge, a defunct dam project now converted into a nature preserve. Or visit Readstown, Soldiers Grove, Gays Mills, or Wauzeka, some of the many tranquil communities tucked along the Kickapoo.
My walk along the river was on St. Feriole Island in Prairie du Chien, a slice of land overflowing with frontier history. Equally compelling views of the Mississippi from water level can be captured along the Great River Road, as it winds north along the river through Ferryville, De Soto, and Genoa.
While you’re indulging your senses, be sure to explore the many events happening in Driftless Wisconsin. Gays Mills will hold its annual Folk Festival of Music on May 11 – 13. The Folk Festival ventures across the musical spectrum from traditional Eastern European to bluegrass. And it’s not just for sittin’ and listenin.’ Friday starts with a square dance and Saturday includes dancing and a fiddle bee.
Westby is the stage for the Syttenda Mai on May 18 – 20, the annual celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day. This year’s event includes arts and crafts, a kiddie parade, a 5K walk/run, a bicycle tour ranging from 30K to 100K, and much more.
On May 19, the Villa Louis on St. Feriole Island in Prairie du Chien will offer “a culinary tour of the late 19th century through the preparation and consumption of a Victorian breakfast - using the foods, utensils and technology of the time.” A tour of the Victorian Estate will follow; reservations are required.
Whether viewing or doing, there’s an experience in Driftless Wisconsin to meet every perspective. Time to put down the camera and step into the scene.