The Dells, Wisconsin Area Attractions & Places to Visit:
Arts & Culture-
Known for loving the lay of the land, Frank Lloyd Wright’s nature-inspired architecture and interior design is known worldwide. Also a writer, educator and philosopher this Richland Center-born overachiever designed more than 1,000 projects, of which more than 500 resulted in completed works, including Wisconsin’s Taliesin, Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, Seth Peterson Cottage, S.C. Johnson Wax Administration Building, plus many others. Frank Lloyd Wright Website
The famous image of his son leaping a chasm from one towering sandstone bluff to another in Wisconsin Dells literally shows how Wisconsin photographer Henry Hamilton Bennett pushed the then-emerging art of photography to a new plateau. Known as the father of modern photography, H.H. Bennett’s ability to capture the haunting geological beauty nature has etched on the landscape drew tourists to the Wisconsin Dells and set the bar for landscape photography so high even Ansel Adams strained to reach it.
Lakes & State Parks-
Devil’s Lake State Park
Wisconsin’s largest state park offers magnificent views from 500-foot Quartzite bluffs overlooking a 360-acre lake. Enjoy lake shore picnic areas, sandy swimming beaches, bird watching, or ease into the country time solitude.
See our New Post about Devil’s Lake Wisconsin State Park
The nearly-10,000-acre state park is 2 miles south of Baraboo and about 40 miles northwest of Madison. More people visit Devil’s Lake State Park annually—1.2 to 1.4 million—than any other state park in Wisconsin. Peak visitation is during the late spring, summer and fall, when visitors can swim in or boat on the clear, spring-fed lake and hike or bike on over 29 miles of park trails. Devil’s Lake is a beautiful year round park with an intriguing natural history along the 1000-mile Ice Age Trail.
The Wisconsin River once flowed where Devils Lake now lies. In its last gasp, the continental glacier blocked both ends of the river’s quartzite gorge with moraine. The clean, blue lake and rocky bluffs it left make Devils Lake one of the most scenic spots in the state, and a great place to mountain bike.
Devil’s Lake is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Visitor Center hours are from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily in the summer and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in other seasons. Nature programs are seasonal. Summer only features: hot showers, flush toilets, sanitary dump station, canoes available. Call park for pet rules. No gas motors on lake. Five shelters, call park for more info. No lifeguard on beach. Climbing/scuba at own risk.
All parked vehicles must have a valid vehicle admission sticker, and all campers must first register and pay before setting up. These requirements may be taken care of at the Visitor Center or at one of the self-pay stations.
Devil’s Lake State Park
S5975 Park Rd., Baraboo, WI 53913-9299
Geographic coordinates are 43° 26′ 2.8″ N, 89° 44′ 19.3″ W.
Mirror Lake State Park
This park is named for its centerpiece, a lake which often is so calm that not a ripple marks its surface. The lake reflects a wooded shoreline with sandstone bluffs and cliffs up to 50 feet high, a swimming beach, and wetlands that are home to a variety of wildlife.
Just three miles from Wisconsin Dells, Mirror Lake is also close to Devil’s Lake, Rocky Arbor and Buckhorn state parks.
The park’s 2,200 acres has three picnic areas (one with a shelter and all with grills); wooded campsites; bike, boat, canoe, and kayak rentals; a cabin for people with disabilities; and the Seth Peterson Cottage designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Only slow, no-wake boating is allowed. Wooded campsites. Hiking and cross-country ski trails.
Mirror Lake State Park is conveniently located near Interstate Highway 90-94. Exit I-90-94 to U.S. Highway 12 south of Wisconsin Dells.
State Highway 12 Construction: State Highway 12 is under construction but there is still access to Mirror Lake State Park. More information, inlcuding maps and directions are available on the current conditions web.
Science & Nature Centers-
The world-renowned International Crane Foundation research and refuge facility in Baraboo is the only place in the world where visitors can see all 15 species of cranes. Established in 1973 by two Cornell University graduate students – George Archibald and Ron Sauey – on a farm owned by Sauey’s parents, the center is credited for guaranteeing the future of these lovely and rare creatures for future generations. I.C.F. Website
The father of modern environmental ethics, wildlife management and wilderness preservation, Aldo Leopold honed his land ethic in a worn-out Wisconsin farm which the family restored to a forest of dreams. The Shack, a re-built chicken coop along the Wisconsin River where Leopold and his family stayed during weekend retreats, inspired many of the essays in the conservation classic, A Sand County Almanac. And now they come – young and old – to celebrate his land ethic at the famous Leopold Shack in central Wisconsin and at the Leopold Legacy Center northeast of Baraboo. Aldo Leopold Legacy Center Website
Decades ago, House on the Rock’s founder, Alex Jordan, created a serious tribute to the eccentric, collectible and eclectic – and what has become one of Wisconsin’s most visited attractions. This nearly indescribable place is an exclamation point on the beautiful terrain of Spring Green and a delightful tribute to the quirks of humanity and its inventions from swords and suits of armor to the world’s largest carousel. House on the Rock
Wisconsin Dells Waterparks & Theme Parks-
Wisconsin Dells has been christened “The Waterpark Capital of the World! ®” for good reason. More than twenty waterparks dot the landscape here, including the world’s largest outdoor water park, the country’s largest indoor/outdoor combination, and the state’s largest indoor waterpark. They hold a combined total of 16 million gallons of water.
Indoor water parks in Wisconsin Dells are a family favorite of things to do in Wisconsin Dells anytime of the year!
Noah’s Ark Wisconsin Dells is the world’s largest outdoor waterpark, spanning 70 acres with five million gallons of water and three miles of water slides. It’s considered the gold standard among outdoor water parks. Noah’s Ark features: The Black Anaconda – America’s longest water roller coaster, The Point of No Return – an extreme body slide that is 10 stories up, 5 seconds down, and The Scorpion’s Tail – Ten stories high, 400-feet long; America’s first nearly vertical water slide loop.
For summertime fun Noah’s Ark is our choice for favorite Wisconsin Dells water parks!
At 125,000 square feet, the African-themed Kalahari Waterpark Resort Convention Center is the largest indoor waterpark in the United States. The Kalahari Wisconsin Dells is known for it’s immensely popular surf machine which uses 50,000 gallons of constantly-recycled water per minute. Water-lovers have no shortage of options in this massive 125,000 square foot facility, including an uphill water roller coaster, a colorful maze of water slides, tube rides, the longest lazy river in the country, and the “FlowRider,” in which a continuous surge of water creates ocean-like waves for a nearly authentic surfing experience.
The Wisconsin Dells Kalahari is our choice for most exciting family water parks in Wisconsin Dells!
Just down the Parkway, the Wisconsin Dells Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort is America’s largest waterpark resort with four indoor and four outdoor water parks. (The Wisconsin Dells Wilderness is larger than six NFL football fields loaded with endless water fun.) Inside, that’s nearly 250,000 sq ft of indoor waterpark fun including bumper boats, the Wilderness Resort Wisconsin Dells offers the only 5-person tube ride, 180-foot body slide, and wave pool that creates five-footers in the Wisconsin Dells area.
The Wilderness in Wisconsin Dells is a great wintertime vacation destination with activities the whole family can enjoy!
Great Wolf Lodge (Formerly Black Wolf Lodge), also in the Dells, features another wild attraction known as the Howlin’ Tornado, an extreme water-tubing ride with a 53-foot vertical drop.
Mount Olympus Wisconsin Dells Water & Theme Park is a mega destination offering indoor and outdoor waterpark rides, roller coasters, go-karts and other amusements in one place. The Wisconsin Dells Mt. Olympus features 37 waterslides, two floating rivers, wave pool, three shallow water play areas, two whirlpools, and water basketball. Mt. Olympus Wisconsin Dells also has nine go-kart tracks – most of them elevated – and is known for its wooden roller coasters including the newest one – Hades. There are also kiddie rides, bumper boats, mini-golf, batting cages and arcades.
Not to be outdone, the 80,000 sq ft Lost Rios indoor waterpark at nearby Chula Vista Resort is home to the country’s fastest indoor water coaster, the “Flyan Myan.” The Chula Vista Wisconsin Dells is a favorite wintertime get-away destinations.
So, if extreme plunge slides, tube rides, racing speed slides, bowl drops, water roller coasters, indoor surf machines, massive wave pools, and lazy rivers are the things that turn your family on, Wisconsin Dells is ready to be your waterpark paradise.
Other Area Attractions-
Run away and explore the circus – the Greatest Show on Earth. Wisconsin nurtured some of the best known acts under the Big Top, including the seven brothers who created the Ringling Brothers Circus in 1884 in Baraboo. The Circus World Museum preserves the legacy of The Ringling Brothers, with the real stars today being the world’s largest collection of antique restored circus wagons and amazing circus posters. Circus World
Milwaukee native Thomson Bartlett touched the lives of more than 50 million (and counting) with his water ski show, including wartime soldiers in the Far East. A radio broadcaster by trade, Bartlett caught the water ski fever in 1949. He brought his traveling show to Wisconsin Dells in 1953 and never left. Today, the Tommy Bartlett Show is considered the longest-running, live outdoor entertainment show of its kind. Bartlett, at age 79, was inducted into the Water Ski Hall of Fame in Cypress Gardens, Florida. Ironically, he only ever water-skied once in his life – on his 70th birthday. Bartlett passed away in 1998 at the age of 84. Tommy Bartlett Show & Exploratory
Original Wisconsin Ducks®
Journey on an amphibious vehicle used during World War II. These restored ducks travel by land and water on trails tucked away among the natural beauty of Wisconsin Dells. Squeeze through the narrow walls of Red Bird Gorge. Coast around the exhilarating curves of Roller Coaster Hill. Plunge into the Wisconsin River. Experience 8 1/2 miles of breathtaking views from towering sandstone cliffs to scenic wilderness trails. Take a one-hour tour aboard a green and white duck. Duck Dock located at 1890 Wisconsin Dells Parkway (Hwy 12), just off I-90/94, Exit 87.
Weather and river conditions permitting. March 14 – Mid November. Summer: 8am – 7pm. Spring / Fall: 9am – 5pm.
Wisconsin Duck Tours Website Phone: 608-254-8751