8 Great-Outdoors Adventures in Wisconsin | Midwest Living

8 Great-Outdoors Adventures in Wisconsin

With more than 15,000 lakes and millions of pristine acres of woodlands and meadows, Wisconsin is one of America’s top states for nature lovers. From roaring waterfalls to soaring bluff-top views, here are eight ways to get out and enjoy the playground of the Midwest.
  • Devils Lake State Park

    Explore Devil’s Lake State Park

    Wisconsin’s largest and most visited state park, Devil’s Lake, is perhaps best known for the 500-foot quartzite cliffs that tower over its glacier-formed lake. Balanced Rock (pictured) is just one of several stunning formations that date back to the last ice age.

    The 9,217-acre park is a hiker’s dream, with nearly 30 miles of trails ranging from paved paths to bluff-top hikes. Explore Devil’s Lake and more natural treasures in the Baraboo Hills with these scenic wonders!

  • Kayaking

    Go Kayaking Up North in Wisconsin

    With two Great Lakes and the Mississippi River forming its borders, as well as more than 15,000 inland lakes, Wisconsin is a mecca for kayaking and canoeing. Head “Up North” to try Hawk’s Nest Outfitters in Manitowish Waters, which offers guide service, full and partial outfitting, and even camping on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage and several rivers.

    You can’t go wrong with a million acres of Wisconsin waters – from sea caves to whitewater rivers and tranquil streams. Browse more paddling outfitters across the state to find your fun!

  • camp cliffside

    Camp Cliffside in Southwestern Wisconsin

    At Wyalusing State Park, you can pitch your tent 500 feet above the lush valley where the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers meet. One of the state’s oldest and most popular camping traditions, the park is located in the dramatically rugged Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin.

    In addition to more than a hundred campsites at Wyalusing, you’ll find hiking, biking and canoe trails, Native American burial mounds and scenic overlooks galore. Find more Wisconsin state parks that offer camping with a view!

  • Chase Waterfalls

    Chase Waterfalls in Marinette County

    Marinette County bills itself as the waterfall capital of Wisconsin, and you can tour about a dozen of these roaring wonders along the Pike, Thunder, Peshtigo and Menominee rivers in northeastern Wisconsin.

    A county park just a half-mile south of the town of Amberg offers an easy-access stop at Dave’s Falls, a classic Northwoods waterfall. You can wade right into the Pike River for a closer look at the upper and lower falls, a short walk from the parking lot.

    Check out more picnic-perfect, easy-access waterfalls throughout Wisconsin!

  • tubing

    Try Tubing in Wisconsin Rivers

    More than 30,000 miles of rivers and streams crisscross the state, creating the ultimate lazy river for tubing in Wisconsin. Kick back on a raft or inner tube and let the water do the work as you take in the sights and share some laughs!

    Wisconsin’s Apple River, located near the Minnesota border, offers tubing access at the Apple River Hideaway, Float Rite Park and River’s Edge. But you’ll discover more great tubing all over the state!

  • ATV

    ATV Through the Wisconsin Northwoods

    Be a daredevil for a day and zoom through Wisconsin’s vast Northwoods with an all-terrain vehicle from Runamuk Rides in Hayward. With guides, trailside assistance and even driving service available, there’s no reason for newbies to be wary.

    For more suggested trails and motorsports rentals, take a look at the complete beginner’s guide to ATV-ing in Wisconsin.

  • Lake Michigan beaches

    Hit the Beaches on Lake Michigan

    Think you need to travel to the Atlantic or Pacific to enjoy an ocean or beachside vacation? Think again! Wisconsin is home to a number of beaches along its Great Lakes shorelines, meaning you can hit the coast without leaving the Midwest!

    The priceless views at Kohler-Andrae State Park include majestic sand dunes, miles of golden beach and the shimmering blue waters of Lake Michigan. You’ll find more ocean-esque beaches (minus the sharks) all along Wisconsin’s Great Lakes coasts. 

  • Elroy Sparta Trail

    Bike the Elroy-Sparta State Trail

    Wisconsin has the distinction of being home to the first rails-to-trails conversion in the country, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail. Aptly traveling through the Bicycling Capital of America, this bike trail includes three old rail tunnels, including one more than three-quarters of a mile long!

    Plan your trip with suggested rentals, dining stops and lodging along this relatively level 32-mile route through five small towns in Wisconsin’s gorgeous Driftless Area. 

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