Area Tourism, Attractions and Events
The naturally scenic Kickapoo River is just a short drive from Viroqua and has been a favorite of canoeists for many years. In the Native American Algonquian language the word “Kickapoo” means “he who goes here, then there.” Translated locally as the “crooked river,” it certainly lives up to its name, meandering its way along a 125-mile course that covers only 65 miles as the crow flies.
The shallow, gently flowing river is tame enough for the beginner but challenging enough for the advanced paddler as well. It is considered one of the best Class 1 canoe rivers in the Midwest and is one of the most photogenic. Each year, from spring through autumn, the slow flowing Kickapoo attracts hundreds of canoeists of all ages and skill levels. You can furnish your own canoe or rent one from one of the many canoe liveries located from Ontario to Readstown. Most liveries offer shuttle service, too. Canoe past farmland and along smooth, water eroded limestone and sandstone bluffs. Wildlife and wildflowers are abundant, especially within Wildcat Mountain State Park near Ontario or in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve near La Farge.
Don’t expect to hurry in the Kickapoo Valley. Biking is a popular way to enjoy both the scenery and the peaceful highways and byways. The upper Kickapoo Valley, a short drive north of Viroqua, encompasses both the Kickapoo Valley Reserve and the Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail, the grandfather of all “rails-to-trails” conversions.
The Kickapoo Valley Reserve has over 25 miles of paved roads with a number of connecting roads that expand the tour biking network to over 100 miles in the immediate vicinity. State Highway 131 north of Rockton is one of the most scenic stretches and crosses the Kickapoo River at least five times in a five-mile stretch. There are also 19 miles of designated mountain bike trails on the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. These trails present many of the challenges that serious off-road bikers find appealing —steep uphill climbs, hairpin turns, and rapid descents as you travel through hardwood forests and open meadows with breathtaking overlooks along the way.
The three railroad tunnels on the Elroy-Sparta State Trail make it one of the most popular trails in Wisconsin. The longest tunnel is over 3/4 of a mile long. Walking through the tunnels is kind of eerie, with the strange sounds and echoes and the constant dripping of water.
The rugged hills and steep valleys of Vernon County offer spectacular scenery and panoramic views that leave lifelong impressions. Wildcat Mountain State Park, the Kickapoo Valley Reserve and Duck Egg Recreation Area on the Bad Axe River offer numerous trails for the trail riding enthusiast.
Several outfitters in the Kickapoo Valley provide services ranging from stock rentals to guided tours to boarding services. A day of riding the trails on horseback is a great way to spend your time exploring the magnificent scenery and wilderness areas that make Vernon County special.
Cross-country skiers enjoy seven miles of groomed trails at Wildcat Mountain State Park. There is also backcountry skiing and snowshoeing in the 8,500-acre Kickapoo Valley Reserve and in the local county parks such as Sidie Hollow.
Vernon County offers the avid snowmobiler access to snowmobile trails that wind through some of the most scenic forest lands in all of Wisconsin. In the winter, local snowmobile clubs groom many miles of scenic trails that connect with routes that spread across the state.
Tourism Information: 608-637-2575 or email@example.com