8 Amazing Scenic Drives in Wisconsin

Discover Wisconsin

October 29, 2014

Skip the interstate. Pack up your car, pick a destination in Wisconsin and then head someplace gorgeous in Wisconsin! May we recommend:

  1. Barron County – Oh, northwest Wisconsin, how I love thee! Find Rustic Road 83 in Barron County. Hint: It’s in the Town of Bear Lake and is on Narrow Gauge Road. (Psst! Fun fact: Narrow Gauge Road got its name because it follows the course of an old railroad line from the logging era.) This route winds through 4,100 acres of Barron County forest land, which intersects the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Download a map.
  2. Door County Coastal Byway – Door County’s Coastal Byway (DCCB) is an official Wisconsin Scenic Byway consisting of 66 miles of Wisconsin’s gorgeous Door Peninsula on Highway 42/57. Your journey will start just north of Sturgeon Bay, following State Highway 57 north along one side of the Peninsula to Northport and Gills Rock at the very tip. From there, head south on State Highway 42 back to your starting point and don’t be surprised when you ooh’ing and aah’ing throughout your entire trip! See a map.
  3. Driftless Area – The drive from Wilton to Viroqua is another one of the state’s most picturesque drives. This stretch traverses the hardwood ridges and valleys of Wisconsin’s driftless area. While taking the rustic routes, you’ll trace crystal clear trout streams, pass traditional and Amish farmers working their fields and come across a plenty of orchards and vineyards, homespun diners and eclectic shops. The stunning scenery is never-ending: steep limestone bluffs, the backwaters of streams and rivers, tugboats pushing barges on the Mississippi and more. See a map.
  4. Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive – Pass through six beautiful Wisconsin counties and 50,000 acres when you explore the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. The northern end of the 115-mile route begins at Sheboygan County’s Elkhart Lake. The southern end is at Whitewater Lake in southeastern Walworth County. Along the way, there are countless spots to picnic, hike, camp, bike, shop and more! Download the directions.
  5. Lower Wisconsin River Road – If the rural countryside, steep valleys and rolling ridges sound like your idea of an ideal Sunday drive, take a tour of the lower Wisconsin River valley in southwest Wisconsin. Boasting thousands of acres of public land, the Lower Wisconsin River Road is a great area to explore by canoeing, angling, hunting, hiking and wildlife watching. You’ll find it well worth your time to make a stop at any of the river towns along your journey, too. Download the map.
  6. Sawyer County – Highway 77 between Minong and Hayward is a breathtaking drive. This route is especially fantastic during the fall thanks to the changing colors of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. And a little treat for you ATV enthusiasts: Head to Tuscobia State Trail for 74 miles of pure fall fun. See a map.
  7. Wisconsin Great River Road – The renowned Great River Road – also known as Highway 35 – wraps around the Mighty Mississippi for about 250 miles from Prescott in the north to Kieler in the south. Revel in its amazing history, gorgeous bluff-top views, outstanding trails and 33 charming river towns along Wisconsin’s only designated National Scenic Byway. Nearly two-thirds of the Great River Road passes along or through protected natural areas, providing endless bird-watching opportunities along with plenty of opportunities for bicycling, fishing, boating or paddling. See the map.
    For more beautiful river views along Wisconsin’s western edge, continue on Highway 35 about an hour north of Prescott through Hudson and Somerset to St. Croix Falls. There, you’ll find Interstate State Park (pictured above), the oldest state park in Wisconsin and the western trailhead of the Ice Age Trail. The views are absolutely beautiful no matter the season, and there’s plenty to do from visiting the Ice Age Interpretive Center to checking out the St. Croix National Scenic Byway via boat or a hike!
  8. Wisconsin Lake Superior Byway – Close your eyes and envision 70 miles of phenomenal views of forests at Gaylord Nelson Wilderness Area and the sandy beaches and the sparkling blue waters of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Sounds like heaven on Earth, right? It is. And it can be found via the Wisconsin Lake Superior Byway, which follows the southern shoreline of Lake Superior along the Bayfield peninsula and provides an unbelievable snapshot of the geological, historical and cultural diversity of the region. Download a map.

Now get out there and explore…because the journey’s half the fun!

Mariah Haberman is the co-host of the nation’s longest-running tourism TV show, Discover Wisconsin. She hails from Evansville, where she was brought up in a family of seven in a small farmhouse outside of town. Some of her favorite memories include Lake Michigan fishing trips with her Dad, showing sheep at the Rock County Fair and buzzing around the farm on an ATV with her little brother. Watch Discover Wisconsin Saturdays at 10 a.m. on FSN Wisconsin’s outdoor block.

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