Courtesy Wisconsin Dells VB
The destination known as Wisconsin Dells takes its name from the interesting rock formations found along the Wisconsin River, which today make for great scenery and activity.
“The Wisconsin River was carved by glaciers and has a lot of sandstone cliffs called dells,” said Tifani Jones, director of sales for the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau. “There are many rock formations there that have become famous.”
Visitors see the rock formations on Dells Boat Tours, which explore the Upper Dells section of the river. The boats cruise between the sandstone cliffs along the shore, giving passengers an up-close view of their distinctive shapes and textures.
After taking the boat tour, groups can split up to pursue a variety of other outdoor interests in the area. A lakefront outfitter called Vertical Illusions offers kayaking tours, as well as more adrenaline-fueled options such as rock climbing and zip-line excursions.
Not far from the center of activity in the Dells, Devil’s Lake State Park offers opportunities for more secluded nature experiences.
“Devil’s Lake is about 10 minutes away, and it’s a gorgeous area,” Jones said. “People come from all over the state to hike there.”
The presence of a large freshwater wetland is one of the unexpected surprises of Horicon, a central Wisconsin destination that makes the most of its natural wonder.
“The No. 1 attraction here is the Horicon Marsh,” said Karen Boersma, secretary/treasurer for the Horicon Chamber of Commerce. “It’s one of the largest freshwater marshes in the United States.”
Groups that visit the marsh usually start at one of three nature centers, where they get an overview of the area’s ecology and have hands-on encounters with some of the native animals. From there, many visitors take an excursion with Horicon Marsh Boat tours.
“You actually ride a pontoon boat with a man that has grown up on the marsh,” Boersma said. “Every time you take it, you see different animals, like herons or big turtles. We also have a family of eagles that is flying all over.”
In addition to the boat tours, travelers can take guided hikes or bike tours around the marsh. During July and August, when the waters are at their lowest, guides lead expeditions that cross through the marsh on dry ground at two different spots.