Wisconsin’s NorthWoods & Lake Superior
Immerse in nature, explore scenic landscapes and discover hidden gems
This three-day itinerary in northern Wisconsin spotlights an unspoiled land of dense forests, hundreds of lakes and small towns between the Mississippi River and Lake Superior. Highlights include attractions that honor our veterans and chronicle the area’s colorful fur trade, logging and mining history.
Day 1 – Spooner, Shell Lake, Superior & Ashland
Our adventure into the magnificent Northwoods of Wisconsin begins in Washburn County at the renowned Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery in Spooner, which proudly holds the title of being the world’s largest musky hatchery. Brace yourself for a truly extraordinary experience as you delve into the fascinating world of fish conservation. Witness firsthand the extraordinary efforts that go into raising over 100 million eggs from the wild to this colossal hatchery during the spring season. From late April through October, you’ll have the opportunity to observe the intricate process of spring egg incubation operations. Marvel at the dedication and expertise of the hatchery staff as they carefully nurture these delicate eggs. During fall pond harvest, you witness hatchery fish being harvested before they are released into Wisconsin’s sparkling waters.
Get creative and inspired or find that perfect gift at The Potter’s Shed in Shell Lake. With more than 200 artists from the US and Canada featured, you’ll find lots of pottery, jewelry, woodwork, glass, candles and much more. For hands-on fun, groups can choose from a variety of art projects.
We’ll make our way north to Superior and visit the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center, a WWII museum that honors the memory of Major Bong and all veterans. Located on the shores of Lake Superior, it shares the story of Richard Bong, “America’s Ace of Aces” and hometown hero.
Day 2 – Ashley, Hurley, Montreal & Phillips
Celebrate the history and heritage of Lake Superior at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland. Listen to spirited songs of voyageurs singing as they paddle their fur-laden, 35-foot birch bark canoes across Lake Superior. Peek inside an 18th century fur trading post. Feel the rumble of an explosion in a deep-shaft iron mine. The displays present an overview of human cultures interacting with the land and natural resources of the Northern Great Lakes region, from the Ice Age to the present. Head to the observation deck for an overview of the area or ake a stroll on the trails to enjoy the wildlife and fauna.
In Hurley, our first stop is the Iron County Historical Society Museum, whose displays touch on iron mining, railroads, the timber industry and much more. Little Finland down the road keeps alive the proud heritage of the many Finnish immigrants that settled in the area. More on the mining industry will be explored when you experience the remnants of the world’s deepest iron ore mine where early settlers worked nearly a mile underground.
The town of Montreal was built as a utopian mining community, as the Montreal Mining Company provided everything that it felt the miners and their families needed. The entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Travel through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and in Phillips you’ll come upon the Wisconsin Concrete Park, an outdoor museum with 237 embellished concrete and mixed media sculptures built between 1948 and 1964 by Fred Smith, a retired lumberjack and self-taught artist and musician. Installed throughout Smith’s northwoods property, the site showcases life-size and larger-than-life sculptures depicting people, animals and events from local, regional and national history and from Smith’s vivid imagination.
Day 3 – Neillsville & Eau Claire
In Clark County, we’ll visit Highground Veterans Memorial Park, a 155-acre manned park west of Neillsville that pays tribute to veterans of WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. There is also a National Native American Vietnam Memorial.
The historic 1897 Clark County Jail Museum in Neillsville occupies a building noted for its castle-like appearance, complete with turrets and fortress-like architecture. Each sheriff and his family lived in the residence portion, a two-story Victorian home with period furniture, an ornate staircase, a formal parlor and Italian marble fireplace. The jail portion houses old law enforcement equipment and two floors of cell blocks. Stop for a tour, shop or a bite to eat at Marieke Gouda, where you can see the milking parlor, cheese making and cow spa barn.
We end our Northwoods tour in Eau Claire. Experience the life of a lumberjack at the Wisconsin Logging Museum, which replicates a 1890s logging camp. Learn about the history of the lumber industry in the Chippewa Valley and the pine trees that were transported down the Chippewa River, the lumberjacks that made a home at the camps, and the technology behind building and operating a logging camp in the late 1800s. You’ll find life-like cabins with living quarters, kitchens and entertainment for the true logging camp experience. Don’t forget to snap a photo with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
Take in a Northwoods League baseball game at Carson Park, the field where Hank Aaron, Bob Uecker and Joe Torre once played. Enjoy a cocktail, craft beer or delicious glass of wine at one of the area’s distilleries, breweries or wineries.
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