on the road

the gadlfy in...

wisconsin (north of US-10)

gadfly homepage on the road home last contact (north of US-10): 8/2008 first contact: 7/1999

WI Trip Stats (3/08):


Click here to see Southern Wisconsin


Counties visited: 57

Best county: Vilas Co.

Town visited most: Cambridge

Places slept in: Sayner, Cambridge, Prairie du Chien, Delavan, Fontana, Milwaukee, Winneconne,  Townsend, Superior, Brule River SF, LaCrosse, Wisconsin Dells, Sheboygan, Packwaukee, Lake Geneva

Most impressive town: Boulder Junction

Least impressive town: Green Bay

Biggest town: Milwaukee

Most scenic area: Northern Highlands State Forest

Most scenic spot: Lone Tree Lake

Highest Elevation: Timm's Hill (1951')

Three Words: cheese, Ice Age, cows

Best Food: There are many places in the Northwoods offering Friday fish fries.

Road Trips: countless


Neighboring States: IL, MN, MI, IA


Major passes: Vertical: US-51 Corridor. Done several times most numerously to get to Sayner and the Northwoods. Great River Road. I have travelled many lengths of the road, but never continuous. US-45/41 Corridor. Travelled nearly completely through state from Eagle River to Union Grove and done in part on Lk Michigan circles. I-43 Corridor. Done a few times while circling Lk Michigan. WI-13 Corridor. Done once coming home from the Northwoods. Very scenic.  Horizontal: I-90 Corridor. A couple of times done on trips through the state to Minnesota. It is much more scenic a drive than I-94. I-94 Corridor. Done everytime I go to Minneapolis. US-8 Corridor. Done half-way when travelling from Chisago City, MN to Sayner, WI. Passed tornado ravaged Ladysmith.


Areas throughly explored: Vilas County (especially Sayner-Starlake Twp), western Jefferson County, Dells area, western Lk Winnebago area, the WI-50 corridor between Kenosha and Lk Geneva, Milwaukee area


Mississippi crossed: US-61 @ Dubuque, US-18 @ Prairie du Chien, WI-82 @ Lansing, US-90 @ Onalaska, US-14 @ LaCrosse; US-63 @ Hager City. St. Croix crossed: I-94 @ Hudson, US-8 @ Taylors Falls, WI-77 @ Danbury.


Future Plans: I am not interested in Door County, but do plan on continuing explorations of the northwest part of the state, most especially Bayfield County, which proved quite beautiful upon passing through in June, '05. I would also like to canoe Horicon Marsh and visit Green Lake, both remnants of an ancient glacial lake.

First Contact: I cannot remember my first time in Wisconsin, but it was probably as a baby visiting my grandparents in Delavan, where they lived for a little while. In my earliest memories I can recall going to the state fair in Milwaukee and several early trips to the Northwoods in the summers. (A family tradition since God knows when.)

Like most Chicagoans, Wisconsin is the place to go to get away from Chicago so being someone who easily tires of the big city, I am often in near-by Wisconsin. I feel really like it is a second home. (In fact, I wrote this on my laptop in Sayner, WI.)

Portage Co. (1982)

Stevens Point. Small city is the middle of Wisconsin in more ways than geographically. Park Ridge. Plover.

Marathon Co. (1982)

Wausau. The rolling farmland gives way to the thick Northwoods near here. Rib Mountain rises above the small city. Spencer. Unity.

Lincoln Co. (1982)

Merrill. Where the road narrows and the woods close in. Tomahawk. Bikers seem to like the name of this town. It has a nice lake or two. Irma. Bradley. Heafford Jct.

Oneida Co. (1982)

Hazelhurst. Minocqua. The most sell out town in the Northwoods can be fun sometimes. Aiming for the dollars of suburban tourists. I do enjoy Peck's Wildlife Park, which has a fine collection of deer and one very angry elk. Keep driving north for the real Northwoods experience. Woodruff. Three Lakes. Monico. Pelican Lk. Tripoli.

Vilas Co. (1982)

Home away from home, where ten miles is down the block. Arbor Vitae. Swamp grass and thick forests. Sayner. The capital of the Northwoods in my eyes. This tiny town on Plum Lake has been the occasional home of generations of my family. Eliason Hardware was the birthplace of the snowmobile so there are miles of snow trails in the woods. Woodlands Resort is the best place to stay, across from islands where bald eagles nest and make life hard for the loons. This place is heaven and I hope it never sells out or changes too much. Starlake. I usually enter town from deep in the woods along unpaved and overgrown Starlake Rd. Tiny town on the shore of Star Lake and the end of the beautiful road of Hwy K. Boulder Junction. North of huge Trout Lake, this town (unlike its neighbors) boasts everyday services like restaurants and gas stations. The wide main drag ends with Mad Dog Jake's which sells excellent Chicago-style dogs. Presque Isle. A string of small lakes surrounds this very small town and its vicinity. The woods are thick here and a sign in one establishment directs one countless miles to the nearest fast food. Good place to stop on a road trip for ice cream. Manitowish Waters. Winchester. Lac du Flambeau Res. The town in the center of this reservation is a bit run down, but the people are hospitable and happy you stopped. Large lakes and great fishing. St. Germain. Another town full of services and bait shops. Large Indian greets you as you enter. This is the end of the road for many.  Eagle River. The only incorporated place for miles around. The main drag caters to summer tourists and is a place to drop a few bucks on food and t-shirts. The river through town is part of the Wisconsin River headwaters. Conover. Northern Highlands - American Legion SF. A superb unadulterated island of forest of birch, pine, and ferns that was saved mostly from the lumberjacks who plowed through the areas surrounding to build up Chicago. Wildlife abounds, fishing is great, loon calls fill the air. Writing this makes me wish I was at desolate Lone Tree Lake ankle deep and looking for fish. Aurora Lake (well, it used to be a lake in the spring) is another interesting spot.

Brown Co. (1983)

Green Bay. Unremarkable medium-sized Great Lakes industrial city. Important to history and to football fans, but I usually pass through. Denmark.

Oconto Co. (1983)

Oconto. Pensaukee. Little Suamico. Townsend.

Langlade Co. (1983)

Antigo. Elcho. Deerbrook. Summit Lk.

Waupaca Co. (1997)

Embarrass. Clintonville. New London. Fremont.

Iron Co. (1999)

Hurley. Pine Lk. Mercer. Manitowish. Saxon.

Shawano Co. (2000)

Wittenberg. Tigerton.

Outagamie Co. (2000)

Hortonville. Greenville. Appleton.

Marinette Co. (2001)

Marinette. Peshtigo.

Jackson Co. (2001)

Black River Falls.

Trempealeau Co. (2001)


Eau Claire Co. (2001)

Eau Claire.

Dunn Co. (2001)


St Croix Co. (2001)

Hudson. New Richmond. Roberts.

Polk Co. (2001)

St Croix Falls. Interstate SP. Range. 

Barron Co. (2001)

Turtle Lk. Barron. Cameron.

Rusk Co. (2001)

Weyerhaeuser. Bruce. Ladysmith. Tony. Ingram.

Price Co. (2001)

Kennan. Catawba. Prentice. Ogema. Timm's Hill. Spirit. Philips.

Taylor Co. (2001)

Chelsea. Medford. Stetsonville.

Clark Co. (2001)

Colby. Abbotsford.

Wood Co. (2001)

Marshfield. Pittsville. Babcock.

Pierce Co. (2002)

River Falls. Prescott. Diamond Bluff. Hager City. Ellsworth. Beldenville.

Douglas Co. (2004)


Ashland Co. (2005)

Bad River Res. Odanah. Ashland.

Bayfield Co. (2005)

Washburn. Bayfield. Red Cliff Res. Mason. Grandview. Drummond. Cable.

Sawyer Co. (2005)


Washburn Co. (2005)

Minong. Lampson. Trego. Spooner.

Burnett Co. (2005)

Hertel. St Croix Res. Webster. Yellow Lk. Danbury.

The sun sets over Plum Lake, north of Sayner, at the beautiful Woodlands Resort.

Aurora Lake in Vilas Co., like much of the Northwoods, is a sea of eutrified swamp and grass circled by pine.

Saying good-bye to Plum Lake can be very hard.

A fawn sleeping in gravel in Peck's Wildlife Park near Minocqua.

Carrying fishing gear and oars to the grassy boat launch that services Partridge Lake in the middle of Vilas County.



Photos (c) 2000-2007by J. Bezold, S. Plencner. All rights reserved.