With more than half of the world’s population now living in urban areas compared to less than 40% in 1990 (that stat is from the World Health Organization), it’s no wonder a new malady was coined (credit author Richard Louv) to address the ensuing effects of that trend. It’s called “nature deficit disorder.” As people spend less time connecting with nature and more time connected to technology they’re missing out on all the emotional and physical benefits of a walk in the woods.
In the Wisconsin Dells area there are loads of nature options within and just outside the city limits, which often comes as a pleasant surprise to Gen X and Gen Y visitors. So pull out those cross trainers, warm up with a little stretching and start exploring the great outdoors in the Dells, starting with the river and scenery that started it all.
The Wisconsin River
While visitors are bound to drive back and forth over the bridge on Broadway in downtown Dells on their way to and from the attractions and waterparks, they may not realize it’s the Wisconsin River they’re driving over and that the river literally bisects the community of Wisconsin Dells. So rather than just drive over the Wisconsin River, get on it, with kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding all great options for burning a few calories in a setting much more inspiring than you’ll ever find on a treadmill. Rent needed gear at River’s Edge Bait Shop & Boat Rentals on the lower dells or Holiday Shores Watersports Center for on the upper dells.
After all that “doing” you’ve earned a little sit-back “seeing” of the natural beauty in the area. Take a double-decker boat tour or see the Wisconsin River aboard a WWII land-to-water vehicle known as a Duck. Jet boat rides on the river are heart-pounding fun for those who like an adrenaline burst even in their scenic tours. Sunset dinner cruises on the Wisconsin River make for a fine end to a fine day.
Check out the full list of scenic tours here.
A Day at the Lake
What’s better than a day at the lake? How about a day on the lake, as in Lake Delton. Lake Delton is a mecca for watersports enthusiasts, fisherman, ice skaters, and fans of the Tommy Bartlett Show. Get out on the water with family in tow on your very own pontoon boat, or for those of you with a need for speed aboard a waverunner courtesy of Dells Watersports: Full Service Marina & Boat Rentals. Prefer not to be in the drivers seat, you can still take the plunge into Lake Delton aboard either of the area’s Duck tours. Make memories that will last a lifetime at one of the many lakeside resorts or vacation homes.
Zip-line Canopy Tours
Ditch the expense of a rainforest vacation and zip line in Wisconsin Dells instead. Red pines and white oaks dominate the landscape of BigFoot Zipline Tours. You can skim over the treetops courtesy of Wilderness Canyon Zip Line Canopy Tour, which takes you over the tree tops of literally takes you right over Lost Canyon. Zip over cliffs and through canyons with Chimney Rock Park Zip Line Tours – Vertical Illusions.
Fishing and Hunting
The Wisconsin River and Lake Delton are both hot fishing spots. Get ready to catch the big one and stock up on supplies at B & H Trout Fishing & Bait Shop. Want to take your fishing experience to the next level? Try bowfishing with Red Beard Bowfishing fro an adventure you will not forget. Tip: It’s an easy launch at the new Newport Park on the Wisconsin River, located just off Cty Hwy A. If what you’re after is a giant Wisconsin buck, Big Racks Hunt Club stands ready to take your reservation.
Snowboarding and Skiing
Don’t let a little snow deter you from outdoor pursuits. Put on a parka and ski, snowboard or snow tube at Christmas Mountain Village Ski, Snowboard & Tube or Cascade Mountain Ski, Snowboard & Snow Tube.
The downtown RiverWalk opened up vistas to the Wisconsin River not accessible in75 years. Run, bike or walk this short paved path, allowing time to stop at a game table along the way.
A Trio of State Parks
It’s a triple bonanza for outdoor enthusiasts – Devil’s Lake, Mirror Lake and Rocky Arbor State Parks are all within a quick-and-easy drive from Wisconsin Dells. You’ll be amazed by the choices to get moving: Hike miles of gorgeous trails, go for a swim, canoe or kayak. There’s fishing and hunting, snowshoeing and rock climbing too.
Tip: Don’t have equipment? You can rent canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at Mirror Lake through Mirror Lake State Park: Boat & Kayak Rental. How easy is that!
Where to Stay: Campgrounds
Wisconsin Dells has nearly 3,200 campsites. Choose from rustic tent camping, camp cabins or RV parks, or even a tree house depending on your back-to-nature preference for accommodations.
Check out the full list of campgrounds here.