It's Only Natural That We'd Return to Our Roots
In the land of incredible waterparks, modern amusement parks, classic go kart tracks and more holes of mini-golf than you can shake a club at there stands the tourism draw that started in all in Wisconsin Dells. Mother Nature.
Seems the pendulum is in full swing back to vacations with a back-to-nature bent. For fans of the Dells in search of a new way to vacation in the area, we offer this adage: What’s old is new again.
Quick History Lesson
The first visitors to Wisconsin Dells more than 160 years ago came for the scenery. Those well heeled travelers were mesmerized by the photos the Dells' own H.H. Bennett took of the teetering sandstone bluffs along the Wisconsin River (the river literally bisects the community) and arrived by train for rowboat tours. Today, visitors choose from double-decker tour boats, WWII amphibious vehicles known as Ducks, or jet boats for their river tour.
Camping is Calling
Wisconsin Dells has more campsites than ever before - some 3,200+ - with a great mix of options. For those who like tent camping, for example, there's Stand Rock Campground where there are 100 acres of hiking trails to keep campers active or Bonanza Campground & RV Park where they have a wooded area for tents only. Sherwood Forest Camping & RV Park has easy-on easy-off interstate access for people with big rigs and it's within walking distance of the Dells' downtown district. Not traveling with gear but still want a camping-esque experience? Travelers can rent a camp cabin at Yogi Bear™ Camp-Resort & Water Playground, a tree-house style cabin at Mt. Olympus Zeus' Village, a full-sized resort cabin at the eco-friendly Birchcliff Resort, or a vacation park model at Holiday Shores Camp-Resort.
On the Water, and We Don't Mean Waterparks
Three spectacular state parks prove Wisconsin Dells was smooched by Mother Nature. Devil's Lake State Park is famous for its views from 500-foot-high cliffs and hiking along the Ice Age Trail. Mirror Lake State Park is so tranquil that you'll find kayaking, canoeing and now stand up paddleboarding there, courtesy of Dells Water Sports, to be a nearly religious experience. (Insider tip: Grab an appetizer or two after at Green Owl, perched precipitously over Mirror Lake Dam, or go for the full supper club experience at Ishnala Supper Club right on the shore.) Rocky Arbor State Park, open Memorial Day through Labor Day, is a cool escape, thanks to all the pine trees, for picnickers and hikers. And right in downtown Dells there's the RiverWalk, a paved trail that snakes along the river with game tables and park benches along the way.
Those serious about fishing typically tow their own boat, putting it in the water at public launches on Lake Delton, where the walleye are plentiful. The fishing action on the Wisconsin River usually involves reeling in bass, northern pike and panfish and there's a public launch at River's Edge Resort.
The lake and river also hold great appeal for those who can't get enough of sandy beaches, watching sunsets from resort patios, boating, paddling, bird watching and snapping photos.
A Trip with Some Zip
Going as far back as the early 1800's, Chimney Rock Park has pulled in visitors. Now it's pulling them along on the area's first eco zipline tour, offered by outfitter Vertical Illusions. Daredevils will zip off cliffs, over canyons and through the canopy of Chimney Rock Park on 15 continuous tree-to-tree zip lines without ever touching the ground. Two other zip lines are located right in town – BigFoot Zipline Tours and Wilderness Canyon Zip Line Canopy Tour.
An attraction that should be on every nature-lovers' itinerary is the International Crane Foundation, a restored nature sanctuary and the only place in the world where you can see all 15 species of those majestic birds. New this year is their live "chick cam" offering a rare glimpse at the endangered Whooping Crane chicks, a sight once only granted to trained staff wearing crane costumes.
Fresh Seasonal Fare
Visitors can keep it easy on the environment by dining at restaurants that believe in fresh seasonal ingredients sourced locally when possible. High on the list is High Rock Café, with its cosmopolitan-style seasonal menus, and CheeseCake Heaven Deli Restaurant just across the street where everything is made from scratch, including the soups, bread for the paninis and even the mayo on the sandwiches. For restaurants that combine fresh seasonal fare with fresh-air views and al-fresco dining there is Ravina Bay Bar & Grill on Lake Delton and River Walk Pub on the Wisconsin River.