Featured Photo by Jerry Quebe
Before heading out, be sure to check the Wisconsin Fall Color Report so you can view the leaves in their peak colors.
Scenic Fall Colors In The Driftless Region of Wisconsin
When fall hits the Driftless Region of Wisconsin, stunning reds, yellows, and oranges coat the bluffs and forests as the leaves reach their peak fall colors. The result is a dramatic display of natural beauty, and the Driftless Region’s unique landscapes offer great spots to view this spectacular scene each year. From scenic drives through the countryside to birds-eye views from the top of the bluffs overlooking the rivers, here are a few places to go this fall to catch the leaves in their peak colors.
Photo by Randy Hoeger
If you’re interested in fall colors along the Mississippi River Valley, you can either head out on the river itself for a direct view of the forested bluffs, or you can explore the overlooks on the bluffs for a birds-eye view. If you have access to a boat, there are boat landings up and down the river, including in La Crosse, Genoa, Ferryville, Prairie du Chien, and most of the river towns. Scenic overlooks on top of the bluffs also give some of the best fall color views in the Driftless Region. There are overlooks to explore at Wyalusing State Park like the Green Cloud Picnic Area and the Passenger Pigeon Monument, Sugar Creek Bluff in Ferryville, Old Settlers Overlook in Stoddard, and Grandad Bluff in La Crosse.
Photo by Eric Frydenlund
Much like the Mississippi River, the Kickapoo River Valley also offers opportunities for viewing the fall colors on the water and on the scenic bluff overlooks. You could head out on the water in a canoe or kayak for a colorful trip down the river, but as the weather grows colder many visitors opt to discover fall colors from the overlooks. The Kickapoo Valley Reserve is a great place to start, especially the Hanson Rock Overlook Loop hiking trail that offers many places to stop and look out over the Kickapoo River and view the stunning fall colors. Wildcat Mountain State Park in Ontario is another spot in the Kickapoo River Valley for viewing fall colors. The park offers hiking trails and picnic areas where visitors can discover scenic overlooks and spend some time taking in the beautiful views over the river.
Photo by Jerry Quebe
Another enjoyable way to view the Driftless fall colors is to set out on a relaxing drive through the countryside on the back roads that connect the river valleys. Many of the roads travel on ridge tops, down in the valleys, through charming downtowns and wind along the bluffs and rivers, creating the perfect scenic backdrops for viewing the fall colors. A great option is Highway 35, or better known as the Great River Road, which winds alongside the Mississippi River and the bluffs through many Driftless river towns from La Crosse to Prairie du Chien. Highways 14 and 61 can take you from Coon Valley to Boscobel through the Mississippi and Kickapoo River Valleys for great views of the countryside. A drive on Highway 33 from La Crosse to Hillsboro will take you through farmland and small towns, or you could take Highway 131 from Gays Mills to Wilton for another colorful scenic drive.