June 6 – 12, 2012 – Wisconsin Dells, WI
We left Buchanan on Wednesday morning and drove through the far Northwest part of Indiana. We then crossed into Illinois where we skirted Chicago – we did not want to deal with Chicago traffic. We stopped for the night at a Wal-Mart parking lot in Harvard, IL. Thursday morning we headed north into Wisconsin and are staying at Christmas Mountain Village Golf and Skiing Resort in Wisconsin Dells. This is a very nice resort with cabins, condos and a campground surrounding a golf course.
We kept looking for Christmas Mountain but could only see tree covered hills. The resort has two chair lifts, one for the ski slope and one for tubing. The ski slope has 11 runs with the longest run being 2,400 ft with a vertical drop of 250 ft – note that there is no mountain behind the first hill (not Colorado class skiing but we guess it works).
The Wisconsin River flows through Wisconsin Dells. We stopped at an overlook just below the dam and got our first view of the Wisconsin River.
A sign at the overlook told the history of the area: “The Indians believed that many ages ago the Great Spirit, in the form of a snake, created the Dells when it forced its huge body through a narrow opening in the rocks. Geological studies, however, show that the Dells were formed some fifteen thousand years ago after a glacier turned the Wisconsin River into a new channel through the center of a sandstone plain. French-Canadian traders used their word “dalles,” meaning a trough or narrow passage, to describe this section of the Wisconsin River. Wind, weather and the river have combined to create the seven miles of chasms, cliffs, pillars and columns which form part of the many scenic features of the world-famous Dells.”
Wisconsin Dells is also famous for its resorts, water parks, and theme parks. We are not into that type of activity so we took a horse-drawn wagon ride through Lost Canyon. Two Belgian horses, Bill and Bob, pulled our wagon through the canyon.
Lost Canyon is a mile long and has many narrow, cliff-lined gorges.
As we approached the first narrow passage, we began to wonder if it was wide enough for the horses and wagon. Our driver told us they have to use small draft horses as the larger ones will not fit between the walls. They use Belgian, Percheron and Clydesdale breeds, but have to look hard to find the smaller horses.
On our return trip through the canyon we came upon a doe and her twin fawns. The second fawn is on top of the cliff above and shortly after we took this picture these two joined it and walked away from the canyon.
It was a really nice ride through a beautiful canyon.
There was also a Corvette parade where over 150 Corvettes paraded through town and parked on a side street. It was pretty impressive as all the cars were restored but we were disappoined that there were only a few from the 50’s and 60’s.
They only had a few food booths and we didn’t find anything that looked appetizing so we headed to Famous Dave’s for some great BBQ. We had a good time and got to see most of downtown Wisconsin Dells.
Sunday we kayaked at Devil’s Lake State Park, a large park surrounding Devils Lake. It was breezy when we launched and we had to paddle into the wind as we started around the lake. We stopped for a break on the far side and when we started back the wind picked up making us work to get back.
Monday was cool, overcast and breezy and rain was predicted so we decided to take the day off from sight seeing and do laundry and other chores around the 5th wheel.
Tuesday morning was still overcast and breezy but not as cool as Monday so we took two boat tours through the Dells on the Wisconsin River. The Dells is about 7 miles long and is very scenic. The first tour was a two hour trip on the Upper Dells and went upriver from the dam. We sat on the upper deck so we could get good views but were wishing we had brough our jackets as the wind was cold.
We went around a small island (on the left of our boat). The Dells is protected so it is heavily forested and beautiful.
We stopped at Witches Gulch and left the boat to walk through the beautiful, narrow gulch. A wooden walkway was built through the approximately half mile gulch. At the end of the gulch was a gift shop and restrooms.
After returning to our boat we headed across the river to Standing Rock where we left the boat again and took a short hike up to theis very interesting rock formation.
They had a demonstration where a German Shepard jumped across to Standing Rock and back. We don’t think any amount of treats could coax our dogs to make that jump – it was a long way to the ground if he missed (although they did have a safety net set up).
On the way back to the dock we were routed through another gift shop and then passed these very impressive rock formations.
We had a great time despite being cold and wind blown.
After lunch the wind died down and the sun came out so it was much nicer for our boat tour of the Lower Dells. This one hour tour started below the dam and went downriver.
The Lower Dells is not quite as scenic as the Upper Dells but there were still a lot of beautiful bluffs overlooking the river.
This part of the river also had a lot of “ducks” which can travel on land and in the water. This one is an “Army Duck”, we also saw Regular Ducks and the Original Wisconsin Duck.
Our boat turned around at the end of the Dells where the countryside flattened out. We really enjoyed both of our boat tours.
We really enjoyed our time at Wisconsin Dells and have decided we want to return to see more of Wisconsin.