about the Wisconsin Dells by reading Wisconsin Dells
- Nature's Wonderland, by Charlie Spence, IFA member
and aviation writer. It features a mini, but thorough
tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to
know to plan your trip, including getting there,
objective information on places to stay and eat,
and things to do. At the end of the article, we've
provided a summary of the contact information for
your easy reference. Enjoy!
Wisconsin Dells - Nature's Wonderland
by Charlie Spence, Aviation
writer and IFA member
The river cruise takes
visitors past miles of unusual rock formations.
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau.
It is a 15-mile
stretch along the Wisconsin River that has some of the most
unspoiled and spectacular scenery and diversified recreation
opportunities to be found in such a compact area. The Winnebago
Indians had a name for it'Nee-ah-ke-coonah-er-ah'meaning where
the dark rushing waters meet. Early French settlers named this
area the 'Dalles,' meaning flat rocks. You could easily call
it one of your favorite vacation spots after you experience
the folklore, the fun, and the fantasies of The Wisconsin Dells.
For more than
150 years Wisconsin Dells has been entertaining travelers who
come to this area for its unique heritage and history in addition
to the grandeur of the rock formations, unspoiled countryside,
and numerous show attractions.
Near The Dells,
Chief Black Hawk was defeated in the Black Hawk War of 1832.
A young army officer involved in the campaign'Jefferson Davis'was
destined nearly three decades later to lead the Confederate
States in another bitter and bloody conflict. At about the time
the Civil War ended, Henry Bennett was born. As a young soldier
he started taking pictures of the unusual landscape and rock
formations. He continued photographing and his pictures became
so popular that tourists began to travel to this site to see
the wonders first hand. Tourism began.
The area includes
two small towns, Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton. The year-round
population is only about 4,000, but don't let that number fool
you. During the summer months and special activities, the population
often swells to more than 30,000. Include the campgrounds and
The Dells area can accommodate up to 50,000 visitors. The number
and variety of lodging facilities attest to this popularity.
Once you settle
in at any one of the 140 hotels or motels you may start enjoying
the sights and activities.
Bumper Boats are just
one of the fun attractions at water parks.
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau.
first will be a boat tour. Choose a leisurely cruise, power
along in a jet boat, or tour the lower Dells and the lost city
of Newport in an Army Duck. Narrators point out the different
formations, and relate the area's history and lore as you pass
such sights as Witches Gulch, Hawk's Beak, and Cow in the Milk
Bottle. For a panoramic view that will have you oo-ing and ah-ing,
take a trip over The Dells in a hot air balloon.
rides on the river, climb aboard a horse-drawn wagon and tour
through the narrow passages of lost canyon.
Spectacular scenery is but one of the reasons
this area is so popular. Nature lovers have a variety of places
to visit. If you are brave enough, you may feed any of the 19
reptiles at Alligator Alley. Take a tour of the Nanchas Elk
Ranch, which is home to more than 100 elk in the scenic rolling
hills. Or visit the Wisconsin Deer Park where you can feed,
pet, and photograph a myriad of antlered creatures and game
You will find
more than just nature's creations to make your visit unforgettable.
At the Circus World Museum you will find the world's largest
collection of restored circus wagons and big tent memorabilia.
This is located in the original winter quarters of the Ringling
Brothers Circus and provides daily performances.
At the H.H.
Bennett Studio and History Center, six interactive exhibits
trace the evolution of the Dells area. Study the science of
photography, and step aboard a steamboat to experience The Dells
at it was before the hydroelectric dam was completed in 1909.
parks and shows offer pure relaxation and rides from go-carts
to bumper boats and roller coasters. Be sure to take in Tommy
Bartlett's water ski show, which has evolved from water ski
jumping into what is now a world-known thrill show that has
performed in 28 countries. If you like to try your luck in other
ways, casinos are available in the area.
There is still
a strong Indian culture and special ceremonies are held frequently.
Try to time your is it to be sure of attending one these Native
is home to 70 attractions, 80 restaurants, and 140 hotels. For
a more complete look at the area, log on to the web site:
On your first
visit to The Dells, you will find such an array of things to
do and see that the best you can do is give this amazing area
the once over lightly with a promise to return often.
How To Get There
The Baraboo Wisconsin Dells Airport is nearest to
The Dells. It is three miles north of the city of
Baraboo and roughly 20 miles from The Dells. It
has GPS RNAV and VOR-A approaches; runway 1-19 is
asphalt, 4,795 feet; turf runway 14-32 is 2,740
feet. Rental cars. Restaurants and lodging nearby.
Casino next to the airport provides free shuttle
service. No landing fee or tiedown fees; $3 overnight
Where To Stay
With 140 different hotels and motels in the area,
the visitor is sure to find one that fits the need
and the budget. Rates at most vary with the season.
Log on to The Dells web site,
www.wisdells.com, and find most of these listed
with details of location and rates. Here are a few
Bed and Breakfasts
Breese Waye - Victorian charm; $70-$80.
(No credit card accepted)
Historic Bennett House - Home of the
photographer who helped make The Dells Famous:
$85-$95. (No credit cards accepted)
Buckly House - variety of accommodations:
$59 - $140.
Park Plaza Baraboo - Near Circus World
and water parks: $74 - $129.
Parkway Motel: $38 - $48 Monday thru
Friday, add $20 for weekends.
Sandman Inn - $38 off season; $98 in
Luna Inn and Suites - $75 - $105 off
season; $95 - $145 in season. Some have kitchenettes.
Camelot Hotel and Suites - Castle-like
architecture; $45 - $255.
You can also check
rates and book your room and rental car at
IFA's Online Travel Booking Service.
Deep discounts may apply.
Where To Eat
Take your choice of 80 restaurants. The usual chains
have outlets. Here is a sampling of the casual and
fine dining spots. Casual places like Country Kitchen
and Houlihan's offer items on the menu ranging from
about $5 to $15. For more elegant fare, visit places
like Ishmala Supper Club or Wally's House of Embers.
This information is current as of January 2003. It is recommended
that you contact the numbers, and/or visit the websites above
to determine any changes to the information.