Thursday, June 14, 2007


My wife and I just took a short mid-week trip (we can do that now that she has retired) to Wyalusing State Park, near Prairie du Chien. What a beautiful place! It is located on bluffs overlooking the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers. She had heard about it from fellow birders, as a great place to see warblers who do not travel as far North as our home in Central Wisconsin.

My wife did see a couple of "lifer warblers" (birds she has not seen before in her life). But we also saw a tremendous number of beautiful brilliantly colored birds: Scarlet Tanagers, Red-Headed Woodpeckers, Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Buntings. The air was alive with color. There were other birds we had never seen before as well, such as the Blue-Grey Gnat Catcher (No I did not just make that name up!). We saw what we believe were Golden Eagles soaring over the Mississippi.

Wyalusing is a different forest from what we are used to in Central and Northern Wisconsin. It is primarily a Walnut forest. There are some other hardwood species as well, but very few pine species. The understory is quite different as well. Rather than bare areas covered with needles & dead leaves or areas populated by ferns, this forest floor is totally covered with broad leaf plants about 2 to 3 feet high. When exposed to direct sunlight the leaves wilt. We saw the usual variety of mammals, including does with fawns.

The park is extremely well maintained. There are many clean bathrooms for us older folks with bladder problems. The two main campgrounds are terrific with sites well isolated from one another. About 1/4 of the sites have electricity. One campground is on a bluff overlooking the rivers. The other is on a heavily wooded hill in the center of the park. There are also two "group camping" sites which accommodate 20 - 40 people per site. There are 22 miles of hiking trails in the park. A road leads down to a boat launch area. You can launch your power boat, or rent canoes & kayaks to enjoy the Mississippi river.

It was a great experience! I just wish it wasn't so far away from where I live. Despite that, we will be planning a camping trip there soon to fully enjoy this Wisconsin treasure.

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