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Exploring Rib Mountain: The History, Village, & Adventures

Photo Credit: Granite Peak Ski Resort via Facebook

Set in the center of Wisconsin, Wausau is home to some of the most remarkable landscapes and charming communities in the entire state–like Rib Mountain. Rib Mountain, the gorgeous geographical gem, is not only home to luscious greenery, but also rich history. While the Village of Rib Mountain offers a cozy small-town charm, the mountain holds endless outdoor adventures. So what do you say? Let's start exploring Rib Mountain–the heart of Wausau, Wisconsin. 

History of Rib Mountain 

Photo Credit: Granite Peak Ski Resort via Facebook

Once known as Rib Hill, Rib Mountain holds rich history buried deep in its treasured landscape. In fact, Rib Mountain is recognized as one of the oldest geological formations on earth. The best part? It’s right here in Wisconsin! There’s far more to uncover, so let the digging begin!

The name Rib Mountain is originally derived from the Ojibwe, when they first utilized the mountain as a vantage point to navigate their way through the thick Wisconsin wilderness. Later, in 1893, the mountain’s material, quartzite, became a key element in the creation of sandpaper. Legends circulated that Rib Mountain may even hold gold; however, after many attempts, none has been found to this day.

By 1927, Rib Mountain was officially sanctioned as a Wisconsin State Park, as the Wausau Kiwanis Club saw its potential and pushed to preserve it as an outdoor recreational gem. In fact, some of the first Rib Mountain explorations were by men, who were determined to climb to the very top. At that time, the mountain remained undeveloped–no trails, only thick trees and tumultuous terrain. 

Because of the Civilian Conservation Corps and their exerted efforts in 1935, Rib Mountain finally was equipped for adventure–creating paths and picnic areas. But they didn’t stop there. Directed by the chamber of commerce leader at the time, the group transformed the mountain’s seasonal adventures into year round adventures, adding in ski slopes and a lift. From then on, Rib Mountain has been acclaimed for their world-class skiing. And the rest is history!

Village of Rib Mountain

Photo Credit: Carmelo’s Italian Restaurant

From uncovering the mounds of mountain side history to touring the Village of Rib Mountain, this next stop is for the leisure lovers! Rib Mountain is home to a plethora of places to see, shop, and savor the local flavor. 

While you’re in the Rib Mountain and Wausau area, there are many must-see stops, including an array of visual arts and performances. If you’re seeking a captivating and ever-changing display, stop by the Woodson Art Museum, which holds over 120 pieces of unique artworks! Even better? It’s FREE! Can’t get enough artistic sights? Check out the Center for the Visual Arts and Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art. You will surely marvel at the astounding creations.

Besides being known as the creative hub of amazing artwork, Rib Mountain is distinguished as one of the largest retail districts in the entire region of Wausau! They have all the big brand favorites you love and unique boutiques filled with community charm. To note, a charming classic to hit is Urban Chic Boutique–-a secret and stylish spot. Shop Rib Mountain and see for yourself.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, savor Wausau’s hand-crafted flavor. Whether you’re looking for local and family fresh, or fine dining experiences, it’s all here. It doesn’t get any more local than Carmelo’s Italian Restaurant–a third generational family restaurant. Using fresh, seasonal ingredients with a homemade touch, you can’t beat the comfort classics of Carmelo’s. During your stay, treat yourself to a one-of-a-kind fine dining experience at Van Acre. Serving authentic dishes from top-of-the-line steaks and seafood to tasty sandwiches and salads. Are you hungry yet?

Rib Mountain Adventures

Photo Credit: Granite Peak Ski Resort via Facebook

Rib Mountain has the best of both worlds–whether you enjoy small-town relaxation or outdoor recreation. It’s time to kick it up a notch and embark on an epic exploration of Wausau’s great outdoors. What better place to explore than Rib Mountain? Rib Mountain holds endless possibilities for adventure, from hiking and golfing in the warmer months, to skiing in the prime of wintertime.

Calling all hikers! Take the ultimate trek throughout Rib Mountain State Park, which is filled with over 13 miles of enchanting hiking trails. To name a few fan-favorites, explore the Dynamite Trail and Quarry Trail–both named after their historical mining features. Also, be sure to check out the Homestead Loop Trail. You guessed it! It’s named after the foundation of an old homestead that can be found along the way. 

In for a competition? Grab your gear and hit the golf course! Located at the base of Granite Peak Ski Area, Rib Mountain Golf Course knows how to bring on a good challenge. With 9 remarkable holes, it’s only game on from here! 

Speaking of Granite Peak Ski Area, as winter rolls in, suit up for a skiing adventure on the slopes! Don’t have equipment? Granite Peak has got you covered from head to toe with rentals. New to skiing? Not a worry, they offer lessons for all ages! Once you’re ready to roll, glide down some of the greatest vertical drops and varying terrain in the entire state. 

Wausau specializes in exploration, especially ones for the whole family. Follow the Family Adventure Book and start planning your adventure today. You’ll soon be on your way to making memories of a lifetime with those you love most.

With a central location, unique landscape, and inviting community, Wausau is the ideal destination, whether you come for a quick visit or decide to make it a vacation. During your stay, uncover Rib Mountain’s fascinating geographical history, welcoming village, and epic adventures for the whole family. There’s no doubt you’ll fall in love with Rib Mountain. After all, it is the heart of Wausau. 

Get a glimpse of the adventure that awaits by watching Discover Wisconsin episode ‘Wausau – Wisconsin’s Outdoor Basecamp’ below:

Hailey Rose: Writer for Discover Mediaworks. A born & bred Wisconsinite with a love for fishing, hunting, and enjoying the great outdoors.

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