Description - Southwestern Wisconsin is well known for the Norwegian descendants that farm the region and maintain many Scandinavian traditions. The Mississippi River forms the western border of southern Wisconsin. In this region is the Great River Road that leads along the river and provides access to it and the interesting culture surrounding it. Like the rest of the state many lakes, large and small, dot the landscape of southwestern Wisconsin. The Black River State Forest and the 101-mile Wisconsin State Trail System as well as smaller state parks, provide facilities for enjoying the outdoors.
Southwest Wisconsin is comprised of two land regions: Central Plain and Western Upland. The Central Plain was sculpted in the east and northwest by glaciers leaving the southern area untouched thus becoming known as the Driftless Area - low plateau deeply cut by stream valleys. The Western Upland features limestone ridges and sandstone bluffs that tower above the Mississippi River. Much of the land contains high-grade soil, perfect for rich agricultural purposes.
- Southwest Wisconsin offers outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities. The Black River State Forest has four-season recreation on nearly 67,000 acres of pine and oak forests. Hiking and cross-country skiing are two of the most popular outdoor pursuits on the Forest. Merrick State Park, located between stately 500-foot bluffs and the lazy Mississippi River north of Fountain City, is a haven for summer and winter anglers. The marshy backwaters are home for egrets, herons, muskrats and otters. Perrot State Park is another popular destination featuring 1,400 acres at the confluence of the Trempealeau and Mississippi rivers. From 500-foot river bluffs, one can enjoy breathtaking views of the mighty Mississippi. Yellowstone Lake State Park has one of the few lakes in the Driftless Area, popular with year-round anglers and an array of other water sport enthusiasts. Enhancing the wildlife is the adjoining Yellowstone Lake State Wildlife Area. Governor Dodge State Park rests a mere three miles north of Dodgeville, an early Wisconsin mining town. The park's pair of man-made lakes and 5,000 acres attracts swimmers, campers, boaters, and hikers. Spring Green, a sparkling town along the Wisconsin River, is home to Wisconsin's native son, architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Taliesin, his Wisconsin home, rests outside Spring Green. Nine of the 42 Wright designed Wisconsin buildings are open to the public including the Seth Peterson Cottage, a cozy getaway located in Mirror Lake State Park, which lies a quick three miles from the ever-popular Wisconsin Dells. The park serves as a base camp for amusement park goers. The area of La Crosse, Wisconsin is an elegant river region popular with sightseers, antiquers, history buffs, and those who enjoy moonlight cruises aboard classic steam paddlewheelers. Trail use in the area includes the La Crosse River State Trail, a railbed conversion great for tour biking, jogging, and in winter, snowmobiling. Great River State Trail affords another regional scenic trail opportunity. Prairie du Chien is the gateway for boating recreation on the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers. South of Prairie du Chien lies Nelson Dewey State Park, a beautiful park that is the original estate of Wisconsin's first governor, Nelson Dewey. Take in a panoramic view of the Mississippi River or relax in wooded campsites atop the bluffs overlooking "Old Man River."
Three Wisconsin Travel Information Centers lie within Southwest Wisconsin. Locations include La Crosse (I-90 Rest Area, eastbound only), Prairie du Chien (at the Hwy. 18 bridge), and Grant County (Hwy. 151 / 61 just north of Hwy. 11 interchange). The La Crosse center is open year-round while the Prairie du Chien and Grant County centers are open April through October.
Recreation - This large area offers a wide variety of recreation opportunities. Some of the most popular include sightseeing, camping, fishing, boating, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
Climate - Southwest Wisconsin has four distinct seasons with warm summers and long winters. January's average temperature is above 16 degrees F (-9 degrees C). Average July temperature is 85 degrees F (29 degrees C). During summer, temperatures can climb to above 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). The area's average yearly precipitation ranges from 32-34". Annual snowfalls in the Southwest Region can range from 20 - 40". Dressing in layers is a good way to remain comfortable in Wisconsin.
Southwest Wisconsin shares its western line with the Great Mississippi, the southern line with the state of Illinois, the eastern boundary falling shy of Madison, and the northern line resting several miles south of U.S. Highway 10.