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RECREATION

Bicycling | Birding | Boating | Golf | Hiking
Horseback Riding | Miscellaneous | Swimming

There is no better place to enjoy and explore the great outdoors than the Prairie du Chien area. From its wooded bluffs to the waters of the mighty Mississippi, the area offers endless opportunities to enjoy nature at its best during any season.

Scenic St. Feriole Island is a good spot for watching ducks and eagles in season, and an ideal location for walking and bicycling. The island also has picnic areas and boat landing. The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, which extends into the Prairie du Chien area, provides opportunities for fishing, hunting, camping and wildlife-watching. Two state parks and Effigy Mounds National Monument also provides excellent birding, hiking and scenic overlooks of the Mississippi River. La Rivere Park offers horse trails and free horse camping for those interested.

Sportsmen can take advantage of the good fishing on the Mississippi and its bountiful backwaters. The Mississippi River is known for its excellent pan fish, large and smallmouth bass, walleye, northern, sauger and all species of catfish. The area offers the highest premium fishing spots in the Midwest. Houseboat, canoe, and fishing boat rentals are available.

Prairie du Chien offers two public golf courses nestled against wooded bluffs providing a peaceful scenic backdrop. Courses range from nine to 18 holes.


BICYCLING

St. Feriole Island
Two approaches to the island, at Blackhawk Ave entrance and at Washington Street, Prairie du Chien, WI
Leisure bicycling can be enjoyed on St. Feriole Island. The island is the area of earliest settlement and activity in Prairie du Chien. Site of the Battle of Prairie du Chien during the War of 1812 and of the First Fort Crawford where three important Indian treaties were signed. It was also the site of 4th Ward residential neighborhood until it was relocated following the record flood of 1965. Home of the Villa Louis, the Dousman family estate built on the site of Fort Crawford. Contains Lawler Park on the riverfront. Home of WPRE/WQPC, the only radio station broadcasting from the middle of major floods. Host to annual events including the Prairie Villa Rendezvous, Prairie Dog Blues Fest and the Villa Louis Carriage Classic. Ideal for walking and biking. Good location for watching ducks and eagles in season. Boat landings, picnic areas.

Wyalusing State Park
10 miles S of Prairie du Chien, WI
608-996-2261
Bicycles are allowed on the park roads and designated trails. Trails that are open for bicycling are indicated on the map. These trails include the Mississippi Ridge trail and Whitetail Meadows trail. A section of Walnut Springs trail from the Naturalist's office south to the whitetail Meadows trail parking lot is also open to bicycles. The park features views of the historic junction of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers where the first Europeans, Marquette and Jolliet landed in 1673. Has 110 family campsites, group camping facilities, picnic facilities, 22 miles of hiking and nature trails, and a year round naturalist. Naturalists’ programs held throughout the year. Astronomy education programs held the second and fourth Saturdays, weather and moon phase permitting, contact the park for details. Admission charge.



BIRDING

The Mississippi River environment serves as a migration corridor not only for waterfowl, but also for numerous other birds such as raptors, shorebirds, and neo-tropical migratory songbirds. In the spring and summer, the river provides important nesting habitat for many species. Even in the coldest months, the area serves as wintering ground for northern bird populations in addition to year-round residents. Bald Eagle watching during the colder winter months is popular with winter visitors.

Birding & Prairie Report
If you would like to report bird sightings, please email the Chamber. List date and location with your report. These reports will be posted on the Bald Eagle page of this web site where updates of viewing locations for Bald Eagles are also posted.

Birding is great in the Prairie du Chien area all year long. We have several parks, Wisconsin DNR properties, Effigy Mounds National Monument, and the Upper Mississippi River refuge as public lands available for birding. Wyalusing State Park (Wi) and Pikes Peak State Park (Ia) are two parks with many trails and history of birding at migration time as well as some interesting nesting birds like the hooded warbler, yellow-throated warbler, etc. Effigy Mounds has a lot to offer as well. The monument is located along the Mississippi River with varied habitats for birding. There are 14 miles of trails including a trail into the Yellow River bottoms. Our trails cover habitat from woodland to prairies. Cerulean warblers and scarlet tanagers are common nesters. The hawk watch in the fall is one of the best migration catching activities along the Mississippi River.

The Upper Mississippi Refuge is one of the largest refuges in the US. Birding on the refuge can be as simple as walking along a trail or taking a boat into the backwaters to a rookery or eagle nest.

In the city of Prairie du Chien there are many locations to check for birding activity. On the south side of town off Vineyard (Coulee) Road La Riviere Park is a 300 acre nature park with lots of birding activity. I have done volunteer work, as well as birding, at this park since the late 1970's. The varied habitats include woodlands, grasslands, native prairie, and park lands. Birds of interest include lark sparrow, Carolina wren, and scarlet tanager. Additional birding can be done along the riverfront.

All parks/birding areas have birds lists. Most may be on the internet and many, like the Prairie du Chien web site will have birding updates posted.

As far as spring birding goes the warbler migration peak will be about May 4-8. We have kept a bird list at the park since 1987 noting the arrival dates of migrants and summer visitors. Warbler migration has been very consistant over the years. So the first or second weekend of May should be the time to come to the area. Bird walks will be conducted at La Riviere Park on May 1 and 8 at 7:30 a.m. and at Effigy Mounds on May 8 at 10 a.m.

At La Riviere Park Dennis Kirschbaum will be conducting Timberdoodle (woodcock) Dance activities on some evenings during late April. Depending on when you will be visiting there may be organized things to do or just do it on your own.

Contact Dennis Kirschbaum for updates or info on specific places or birds you would like to see. Home phone number is 608-326-2718 or contact the Chamber at through email at infoprairieduchien.org and the Chamber will forward your email on to Dennis.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Upper Mississippi Waterfowl Survey

Ambrough Slough Loop
North on County K in Prairie du Chien then follow Ambrough Road along sloughs and backwater for 2 miles

In spring, migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, gulls, Sandhill Cranes, Egrets, herons, Pileated Woodpeckers, American Redstarts, Prothonotary Warblers and Warbling Vireos.

Effigy Mounds National Monument
3 miles N of Marquette, IA off Highway 76, Harpers Ferry, IA
563-873-3491
Excellent birding for warblers, vitreos and other forest birds. Waterfowl can be found in the backwater ponds. Special events include Hawk Watch Weekend in late September. The monument is open year-round. It was established to preserve outstanding examples of a prehistoric American Indian mound building culture that regularly constructed mounds in the shape of mammals, birds, or reptiles. The monument contains 2,526 acres with 206 mounds of which 31 are effigies. The visitor center contains museum exhibits, a video presentation, and book sales outlet. Visitors may look at the mounds, see spectacular views from bluffs along the Mississippi River and experience more than 100 acres of prairie by walking along 14 miles of hiking trails. Three conical mounds are accessible to disabled visitors via a boardwalk trail. In the summer months ranger led programs are available. Special summer and evening hikes - call the park after June 1 for specific information. Admission is free. A winter film festival is held January through March with films shown each Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

La Riviere Park
Located on Vineyard Coulee Road SE of Prairie du Chien, WI
Resident warblers include Blue-wings, Ceruleans, Common Yellowthroats, Ovenbirds and American Redstarts. Also Wood Thrushes, Rufous-sided Towhee, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Black and Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Scarlet Tanagers and Carolina Wrens. On the Toboggan Slope and Dan La Riviere Trails look for species such as Lark Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, Wild Turkeys, Ruffed Grouse, Ring-necked Pheasants and several species of woodpeckers. A 300 acre city park in its natural setting with native prairie. Provides hiking, nature, bird watching, skiing, riding trails, picnic area, shelter house and horse camping. Operated by Prairie du Chien Parks Department.

Lawler Park
West on Blackhawk Ave., downtown Prairie du Chien
Location for viewing Bald Eagles. Riverfront park on St. Feriole Island in Prairie du Chien. It features the Walk of History detailing earliest periods of Wisconsin’s Second Oldest Community. Named for John Lawler, builder of the pontoon bridge and the city’s greatest philanthropist. Has excellent facilities for family picnics. Boat landing and public restrooms.

Leitner Hollow Road
Two miles S of Lynxville and north of Lock & Dam 9.
Wild Turkey, Eastern Bluebird, cuckoos, warblers, vireos and an excellent variety of woodland birds. This narrow, 2-mile dead-end road is not recommended of winter travel, but excellent for walking.

Mississippi Explorer Cruises
Docking site - St. Feriole Island river front, Prairie du Chien, WI
563-586-4444
Special Bird Watching tours and charters. Join us for the ultimate bird watching experience!! A leading Audubon researcher serves as our guide while we explore the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. View waterfowl, Neotropicals, raptors and bald eagles Our uniquely designed vessels offer passengers optimal viewing and protection from the rain, cold, heat and inclement weather. A perfect choice for special group charter events! Bring your binoculars and camera!!

Mount Hosmer
Warblers, vireos and thrushes. A 25-acre, wooded, city park atop a majestic bluff overlooking the Mississippi River at Lansing, Iowa. Spectacular views of the river and its backwaters as well as vistas of three states seen from two overlooks. The Lansing bridge, 30 miles north of the Marquette-Jolliet Bridge in Prairie du Chien is the northern gateway to Crawford County.

Nelson Dewey State Park
Located across from Stonefield Village in Cassville, WI
Park Info 608-725-5374, Camping Reservations 888-947-2757

Wide variety of warblers, vireos and other songbirds, with raptors during fall migration and Bald Eagles year round, but especially in winter. Part of the original estate of Wisconsin's first governor, Nelson Dewey. Features a panoramic overlook of the Mississippi. Indian mounds, camping, hiking, picnicking, playground, bird and wildlife observation area. Weekend and holiday tours of the home and grounds. Admission charge. www.cassville.org/nelsondewey.html

Picatee Creek Road
Picatee Creed Road is approximately 5 miles N of Prairie du Chien on Hwy 35. Cross the railroad tracks and follow the paths

Waterfowl during spring migration, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Swamp Sparrows and Red-shouldered Hawks.

Pikes Peak State Park
McGregor, IA
563-873-2341
Broad-winged Hawks, Barred Owls, Bald Eagles, American Redstarts and a variety of woodpeckers, vireos, warblers and thrushes. One of Iowa's most beautiful state parks. Popular recently constructed scenic overlook. A favorite spot of photographers who take majestic shots of two great rivers in any season or weather. Also contains campsites, picnic grounds, waterfall, and hiking and nature trails. Named for Lt. Zebulon Pike, army surveyor of the Mississippi in 1805 who suggested a fort be built on this site.

St. Feriole Island
Two approaches to the island, at Blackhawk Ave entrance and at Washington Street, Prairie du Chien, WI
Warblers, Snow Buntings in winter, vireos, gulls, shorebirds, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons and Savannah Sparrows.Area of earliest settlement and activity in Prairie du Chien. Site of the Battle of Prairie du Chien during the War of 1812 and of the First Fort Crawford where three important Indian treaties were signed. 4th Ward residential neighborhood until it was relocated following the record flood of 1965. Home of the Villa Louis, the Dousman family estate built on the site of Fort Crawford. Contains Lawler Park on the riverfront. Home of WPRE/WQPC, the only radio station broadcasting from the middle of major floods. Host to annual events including the Prairie Villa Rendezvous, Town and Country Jamboree, Prairie Dog Blues Fest and the Villa Louis Carriage Classic. Ideal for walking and biking. Good location for watching ducks and eagles in season. Boat landings, picnic areas.

"Upper Miss" Refuge
McGregor District Office located along Business Hwy 18 between Marquette and McGregor, IA
563-873-3423
The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge provides many opportunities to hunt, fish, camp, watch wildlife or enjoy a lazy afternoon. Highlights in the Prairie du Chien area include the Sturgeon Slough Hiking Trail, accessed from the rest stop located on Highway 18 between Prairie du Chien and Marquette. Displays and information at the District Office. http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Upper_Mississippi_River

Yellow River State Forest
N of Marquette, IA, off Hwy 76
563-586-2254
Excellent variety of songbirds, Whip-poor wills, American Woodcocks and woodpeckers. Good area for nesting hawks and owls. One of the nation's most picturesque regions, with 5,800 acres of timbered hills and valleys. Has 25 miles of hiking trails, 13 miles of equestrian trails, plus many miles of snowmobile and cross-country ski trails. Stocked trout streams and marsh areas. Picnic and camping areas. Open for hunting and fishing. Open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. No admission charge. Groups welcome. Administered by the IDNR. For maps and information on camping, hiking, etc., phone 563-586-2548.

Wyalusing State Park
10 miles S of Prairie du Chien, WI
608-996-2261
Perhaps the best place in Wisconsin for Kentucky, Cerulean and Yellow-throated Warblers. Also Prothonotary Warblers, Bell's Vireos, Henslow's Sparrows, Wild Turkeys, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, Turkey Vultures and Bald Eagles. Features views of the historic junction of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers where the first Europeans, Marquette and Jolliet landed in 1673. Has 110 family campsites, group camping facilities, picnic facilities, 22 miles of hiking and nature trails, and a year round naturalist. Naturalists’ programs held throughout the year. Astronomy education programs held the second and fourth Saturdays, weather and moon phase permitting, contact the park for details. Admission charge.

Birding information from the Audubon Great River Birding Trail publication.


BOATING & FISHING

Prairie du Chien Boat Landings

Cedar Street Landing
St. Feriole Slough Landing
Prairie du Chien Marina
Villa Louis Landing
Lawler Park
Campion Landing

Many of these boat landings are marked on the city map which is located on the Maps & Weather page of this web site.

Upper Mississippi River Navigation Charts
River maps available for download from the Rock Island District U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. River maps for the Prairie du Chien area are:
River Map #36 Prairie du Chien and North
River Map # 37 Prairie du Chien and South

Boat Launch Fees & Fishing Licenses

Boat Launch Passes
The City of Prairie du Chien has enacted boat launch fees for all boat launching areas in the City. Boat launch passes can be purchased at:

City Hall, 214 E. Blackhawk Ave., Prairie du Chien, 608-326-6406
City Police Station, 224 N. Beaumont Rd., Prairie du Chien
Cabela's Retail Store, 501 E. Cliffhaven Rd., Prairie du Chien
Kwik Trip - 1000 S Marquette Rd and 201 S Marquette Rd, Prairie du Chien

Fishing Licenses

Cabela's Retail Store, 501 E. Cliffhaven Rd., Prairie du Chien
Wal-mart Supercenter, 38020 Hwy 18 S., Prairie du Chien
Crawford County Clerk's office, 220 N. Beaumont Rd., Prairie du Chien

Wisconsin Fishing Information
For fishing regulations and guide contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

TROUT FISHING - Map of streams in Crawford County
The fishing forecast for 2011 Crawford County trout streams looks for a great fishing season. Excellent natural reproduction in 2007 and 2008 produced two huge trout year classes. These fish have grown to catchable size and will provide for great fishing this season. The DNR fish crews stationed in La Crosse surveyed 21 sites on 9 streams in 2010. Good trout populations were found in Plum, Rush, Copper, Tainted and Sugar creeks. Anglers looking for trophy trout should work these streams and the Kickapoo River. (From the Spring 2011 Wisconsin Fishing Report, an annual publication of the Fisheries Management program)


 HIKING

The Prairie du Chien area includes an abundance of unique parks offering something delightful for almost any outdoor enthusiast during all four seasons. Scenic overlooks of the Mississippi River, birding, hiking trail, historic information and more can be found at many of these parks.

Effigy Mounds National Monument
3 miles N of Marquette, IA off Highway 76, Harpers Ferry, IA
563-873-3491
The monument is open year-round. It was established to preserve outstanding examples of a prehistoric American Indian mound building culture that regularly constructed mounds in the shape of mammals, birds, or reptiles. The monument contains 2,526 acres with 206 mounds of which 31 are effigies. The visitor center contains museum exhibits, a video presentation, and book sales outlet. Visitors may look at the mounds, spectacular views from bluffs along the Mississippi River and experience more than 100 acres of prairie by walking along 14 miles of hiking trails. Three conical mounds are accessible to disabled visitors via a boardwalk trail. In the summer months ranger led programs are available. Special summer and evening hikes - call the park after June 1 for specific information. Admission is free. A winter film festival is held January through March with films shown each Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

La Riviere Park
62036 Vineyard Coulee Road, SE of Prairie du Chien, WI
A 300 acre city park managed for it's natural beauty and wildlife. The park is a mix of hardwood forest, grasslands, and native prairie. Provides 6 miles of hiking trails, nature viewing, bird watching, cross-country skiing, horse trails with links to other trails, archery area, picnic area, shelter house, and primitive and horse camping. Water and electrical hookups available in horse camp on first come first serve basis. No reservations taken.

Mount Hosmer
A 25-acre, wooded, city park atop a majestic bluff overlooking the Mississippi River at Lansing, Iowa. Spectacular views of the river and its backwaters as well as vistas of three states seen from two overlooks. The Lansing bridge, 30 miles north of the Marquette-Jolliet Bridge in Prairie du Chien is the northern gateway to Crawford County.

Nelson Dewey State Park
Located across from Stonefield Village in Cassville, WI
Park Info 608-725-5374, Camping Reservations 888-947-2757
Part of the original estate of Wisconsin's first governor, Nelson Dewey. Features a panoramic overlook of the Mississippi River. Indian mounds, camping, hiking, picnicking, playground, bird and wildlife observation area. Weekend and holiday tours of the home and grounds. Admission charge. www.cassville.org/nelsondewey.html

Pikes Peak State Park
McGregor, IA
563-873-2341
One of Iowa's most beautiful state parks. Popular recently constructed scenic overlook. A favorite spot of photographers who take majestic shots of two great rivers in any season or weather. Also contains campsites, picnic grounds, waterfall, and hiking and nature trails. Named for Lt. Zebulon Pike, army surveyor of the Mississippi River in 1805 who suggested a fort be built on this site.

"Upper Miss" Refuge
McGregor District Office located along Business Hwy 18 between Marquette and McGregor, IA
563-873-3423
The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge provides many opportunities to hunt, fish, camp, watch wildlife or enjoy a lazy afternoon. Highlights in the Prairie du Chien area include the Sturgeon Slough Hiking Trail, accessed from the rest stop located on Highway 18 between Prairie du Chien and Marquette. Displays and information at the District Office. http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Upper_Mississippi_River

Yellow River State Forest
N of Marquette, IA, off Hwy 76
563-586-2254
One of the nation's most picturesque regions, with 5,800 acres of timbered hills and valleys. Has 25 miles of hiking trails, 13 miles of equestrian trails, plus many miles of snowmobile and cross-country ski trails. Stocked trout streams and marsh areas. Picnic and camping areas. Open for hunting and fishing. Open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. No admission charge. Groups welcome.

Wyalusing State Park
10 miles S of Prairie du Chien, WI
608-996-2261
Features views of the historic junction of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers where the first Europeans, Marquette and Jolliet landed in 1673. Has 110 family campsites, group camping facilities, picnic facilities, 22 miles of hiking and nature trails, and a year round naturalist. Naturalists’ programs held throughout the year. Astronomy education programs held the second and fourth Saturdays, weather and moon phase permitting, contact the park for details. Admission charge.


HORSEBACK RIDING

La Riviere Park
62048 Vineyard Coulee Road, SE of Prairie du Chien, WI
A 300 acre city park managed for it's natural beauty and wildlife. The park is a mix of hardwood forest, grasslands, and native prairie. Provides 6 miles of hiking trails, nature viewing, bird watching, cross-country skiing, 50+ miles of horse trails (miles include links to other trails), archery area, picnic area, shelter house, and primitive and horse camping. No reservations or fee are required for the horse camp but donations are accepted to the LaRiviere Riders, Inc. for electricity, campground and trail maintenance. For horse trail conditions call 608-734-3692 or 608-608/412-0132. Or check the website at http://www.lariviereriders.com.

The Natural Gait
1878 Mission Dr, Harpers Ferry, IA, 877-776-2208
Miles of horse trails, accommodations for you and your horse. Horses NOT provided.

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Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce, 211 S. Main, PO Box 326, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821 | info@prairieduchien.org | 1-800-732-1673

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