The Top Open Air Historical Stops in Driftless Wisconsin
The Driftless region of Wisconsin is bordered by the Mississippi River on it’s Western edge and is a great place to explore when traveling the Great River Road. Historic attractions abound, and at many you can enjoy the locations outdoors with the space you need to socially distance.
Here’s some of the top historical stops and attractions in the Driftless.
Norskadalen, means Norwegian Valley, and is made up of 400 acres of hills, goat prairies, and streams. Close to nine miles of nature trails wind their way through the property. There is a visitor center to peruse, but most importantly, people visit Norskadalen to catch a glimpse into the lives of the Norwegian settlers who first came to the area. The Bekkum Homestead is a recreation of what farms once looked like in the region. A home, chicken coop, summer kitchen, corn crib, blacksmith, and more. These buildings were built in the mid to late 1800’s and were donated by local people and moved to the site to be preserved. Admission is reasonable, whole family ticket pricing.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
Open year round, and free to visit, the Mississippi River Sculpture Park is a unique historical attraction. On St. Feriole Island, the park features life-sized bronze statues. There are six statues currently including Chief Black Hawk, a Sauk warrior, and Marianne LaBuche, Prairie du Chien’s first physician. Each statue took six to eight months to create and eventually the park will be home to 22 of them.
Photo by Vicki Gordon
An open air architectural museum, you can view the exterior of the log cabins year round. These six log structures are being preserved as part of the folk architecture of the Kickapoo Valley. While there are several log cabin homes, you will also find a corn crib, hen house and granary. The buildings were built by some of the area’s original settlers between 1855 and 1890. It’s free to visit the park, and you’ll find picnic shelters, grills, playgrounds, and more.
Photo by Loren Elkin
There are a few rustic roads in the Driftless region, but Rustic Road 56 is a good choice for the history buff. This 8.6 mile route through hills and valleys will take you past some of the area’s Amish farms which are windows to the past as the Amish culture encourages living a simple life and they don’t adopt modern conveniences easily. You are likely to see Amish buggies on the roads of the Driftless. This particular road will also pass by log cabins and a round barn.