Check Out These Outdoor Adventures In La Crosse, Wisconsin

Wisconsin is more than a fly-over state. These unique places around La Crosse and the Mississippi River prove it.


Cheese, farmland or maybe the Badgers are the first things to come to mind for an outsider considering a trip to Wisconsin. Especially to La Crosse. 

But quite the contrary, there are a lot of places to explore in the area. Starting on the Mississippi River and the Great River Road

The Great River Road runs through 10 states and is the oldest and longest National Scenic Byway. If you have been considering an American road trip, this one comes highly recommended. The trip itself is 3,000 miles long, with historical sites, local eats and outdoor recreation along the way, but a stop in La Crosse will let you see a portion of the famous trip.

Grandad Bluff (Donald Schneider Photography)

One spot in particular, known as Grandad Bluff, is 600 feet high and is called “the most scenic view in the state.” According to travelers and the city’s website, you can see Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa from the marked spot. There’s also a local park where you can make a fun day trip out of visiting the bluff.

Grandad Bluff (Donald Schneider Photography)

Next up on the list of places to explore is the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge, which is the longest in the nation, providing 240,000 acres to explore. The Refuge is known for its wetlands, forest and a variety of wildlife and birds.

Now, usually visitor centers aren’t topping the adventure list, but the Wildlife Refuge visitor center in La Crosse is a little different. Two miles of trails run through the sand prairie in the Refuge where you’ll find prairie plants, interactive exhibits and the River Walk that feels like you’re walking on water.

La Crosse is also a great place to visit for year-round fishing. Several guide services are available around the area. You can target trout, pike, bass, walleye, bluegill, crappie, perch and catfish. During the fall months, the fish are more aggressive and put up a formidable fight making the trip even more exciting. Regardless what lake or region you choose, the Mississippi River is a breeding ground for diverse species. You can find a guide who knows the La Crosse area here.

Some other places to check out are Goose Island, Perrot State Park and Hixon Forest.

Goose Island Campground (Explore La Crosse)

The Goose Island County Park & Campground is a few miles south of La Crosse. There’s about 300 campsites available for primitive or RV camping. Here you can rent kayaks and canoes, swim at the beach area, hike and they offer a boat launch. 

Perrot State Park (Kensey Shaffer via Facebook)

Perrot State Park is 1,200 acres and found inside the bluffs. There’s access to the Mississippi River and the Trempealeau River. Here you can hike, ride bikes, rent paddling equipment to explore the park during the summer or cross-country ski during the winter. This state park is unique in that hunting and trapping are allowed in areas of the park during the allotted hunting seasons. Rent your campsite during any time of the year and the activities are endless.

Hixon Forest is basically a network of multiuse trails that will take you from one park to another. Go from downtown La Crosse to Grandad Bluff or from Myrick Park to Riverside Park using the trail system through beautiful wooded bluffs. 

My first thoughts about a trip to Wisconsin were who would actually want to travel to Wisconsin and will there be cheese curds. After a little research though, La Crosse is definitely a place worth adding to the adventure list.

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