Vacationing is best done in the Driftless area…
The Driftless area gets its name from the total lack of glacial drift material – in other words the last glaciers never reached this area and is the only part of Wisconsin with no natural lakes. In addition to the curious topography of steep slopes and cliffs, there are unique habitats that are home to rare species of plants and animals.
From…. the rewarding trout fishing in the Kickapoo River, between Ontario and Gays Mills has a total of 46 fish species, including an abundance of brown trout. This stretch of river has been classified as a Class II trout stream. Billings Creek, a tributary of the Kickapoo River, has a population of brown trout and is also classified as a Class II trout stream.
…to canoeing adventures along the windy Kickapoo (the name Kickapoo is an Algonquin word meaning “one who goes here, then there” and accurately describes the Kickapoo River which flows in all directions of the compass for portions of its length). Ontario is the “Canoe Capital of the Kickapoo” with plenty of location to rent canoes, kayaks, and tubes. Rental companies offer pick up service and drop you back off at your car. The limestone bluffs near Ontario provide incredible scenery and a glimpse at an ancient river system. River trips can be as short as a couple of hours to a multi-day adventure…
….to biking the Elroy-Sparta Trail part of the Rails-to-Trails project. The trail is 32 miles in length on the abandoned Chicago & North Western Railroad bed and passes through three rock tunnels. The three century-old railroad tunnels hightlight the trail. The Kendall and Wilton tunnels are 1/4 mile long and the Norwalk tunnel is just over 3/4 mile long. Bike rentals and shuttles are available in Elroy, Kendall, and Sparta. If 32 miles just aren’t enough you can enjoy all 101 miles of connected Wisconsin biking splendor on the Great River State Trail, La Crosse River State Trail, Elroy-Sparta State Trail and the “400” State Trail.
Of course you wouldn’t want to miss Wildcat State Park which is just a short, scenic drive just south of Ontario. The park offers more than 20 miles of hiking trails and 15 miles of equine trails. The park is best known for the beautiful scenic overlooks into the Kickapoo Valley. Streams, such as the Kickapoo River and Billings Creek, and Cheyenne Creek in Wildcat Mountain State Park, have carved winding, steep-sided valleys out of the rock. Fishing equipment can be checked out for free at the park! In the winter the park has seven miles of cross-country ski trail. Be sure to check out the Ice Cave early in the spring to see the beautiful naturally forming ice sculptures. Wildcat has been known for years for fantastic night sky viewing
Just drive down the road a bit and you’ll find the expansive Kickapoo Valley Reserve is located just south of Ontario and offers outdoor opportunities no matter your interest or the season. 8,600 acres of public land located between the villages of La Farge and Ontario with opportunities for mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, snowshoeing, photography, or birding. The KVR also offers amazing night sky viewing opportunities. Be sure to check out the visitor center to learn more about the natural resources and unique history of the reserve!
If shopping is your thing you will enjoying the local agritourism including Ontario’s very own Amish Walmart along with many other Amish stores. Specialty shops in Ontario and Cashton offer both locally made and unique gifts. Travel to Viroqua for a wonderful downtown shopping experience and amazing food – including the Driftless Cafe – a farm-to-table style restaurant with all foods locally sourced.
Winter brings a beautiful blanket of snow over the landscape bringing opportunity for snowshoeing, skiing, and ice fishing on the Mississippi River. It also brings world class athletes to the area every February for the Snowflake Ski Jumping Tournament. An event you don’t want to miss – tailgating and bonfires all day and night long.
Discover the Kickapoo Valley every season…