Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 5/5 – 5/12

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin:  Population =  2,678 (Lake Delton population = 2,914), elevation = 909 feet, Average January low temp = 7.2º, Average July high temp = 84.4º, annual precipitation = 33.56”, annual snowfall = 41.2”

The Wisconsin Dells is a strange world.  It is a combination of natural and un-natural entertainments.   It lives in two towns and four counties.  Driving through it, the town looks a lot bigger than what the population would support.  That is because so many things are inflated to larger than life sized.

The world’s largest Trojan Horse

Driving Highway 23 (Broadway) East-West takes you through downtown Wisconsin Dells.  The downtown is fairly compact, with a mix of solid old brick storefronts and garish new buildings.  This being a tourist Mecca, there is a high proportion of good restaurants and bars, as well as ticket sellers, fudge dealers, souvenir hawkers, and a few outlandish amusement parks.

Driving Highway 12 (Wisconsin Dells Parkway) North-South takes you from Wisconsin Dells to Lake Delton.  I am guessing that Lake Delton has homes someplace, maybe out by the Outlet Mall.  Along the Parkway, things are seriously Un-natural.  This is where the huge amusement and water parks have sprouted, interspersed with hotels, small, large, and huge.

To get a true appreciation of how massive this tourist entertainment district is, I guess you would have to visit during the high season in summer.  During our visit in mid-May, the parks are just gearing up for the coming season.  The waterslides are dry, the roller coasters still, the parking lots empty.  The biggest show in town is the Rick Wilcox Magic Theater, but that is sold out for the rest of the month.  Of course we visit the local breweries and find some great beers.

An excellent Belgian Trippel
Very nice Irish Red

Kind of hidden in the Downtown area, there is the entrance to the Riverwalk.  From this vantage, you can see the rushing Wisconsin River, nestled between high carved sandstone bluffs, blanketed with forests.  During the high season, the river is the playground of jet boats, amphibious “duck” vehicles, and a myriad of small boats.  In May, the river is mostly quiet and our tour boat putts along, often accompanied only by the occasional duck or goose.

The sandstone is so porous, the trees grow right through it
This is a “braided” river. It splits into smaller streams that flow between islands.
Water, wind, and time create striking rock formations
A boardwalk takes us into the Witches Gorge

 

Standing Rock. The gap is only about 5 feet but the dog they have trained to jump it was not liking it very much.

From my vantage point as an off-season visitor, Wisconsin Dells looks like a huge machine, dedicated to removing money from tourists.  Judging from the thousands of hotel rooms available, I would guess that the machine is very effective.  On the other hand, the river valley is beautiful and, at this time of year, serene and lovely as seen from a slow boat.

Next up: Rochester, Minnesota

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footloosefogeys

We are two recent retirees who decided to sell the house, pull up stakes, and explore North America. We are both being tourists and looking for the right blend of people, place, and geography that makes for the perfect place to retire.

7 thoughts on “Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 5/5 – 5/12”

  1. Nature is the same but the human side of things has gotten worse since the decades ago when I was there–LOL! 😉

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  2. My favorite activity was the walk through Witch’s Gorge. As far as other attractions, we did see a side show at Mr. Marvel’s Wondertorium which included some unusual displays: walking fish, two-headed squirrel(s), and a “genuine shrunken head”. I’ve had the Dells on my bucket list for years – now complete and enough. Sadly, we are past the age of appreciating amusement parks.

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  3. Thanks for the info. I am going to be passing through as well for Memorial Day. It is funny the same paths we sometimes take. :). This is Jeeves from the Heaven Hill Distillery!

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      1. Ha, would love to, but I only have 3 days to explore the great state of Wisconsin. The focus is on beer and cheese this time. 🙂 Perhaps another time. I am definitely enjoying living some of these adventures through your blog. Have fun!

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      2. Have fun in Wisconsin! Our favorite beers were at Sprecher. We did not look for cheese, but it is everywhere. The cheese houses we have been to in Wisconsin have mostly lots of flavors of common cheeses, like cheddar and gouda. Don’t expect many exotic types of cheese. But, it is like the bourbons; taste them all!

        Alan Belisle alanbelisle@icloud.com 952-228-9883 footloosefogeys.com

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