Whether you and your crew are exploring Southwestern Wisconsin for a day or for a week, enrich your time together by experiencing Native American culture during your getaway. From hiking to ancient petroglyphs to hearing the stories of ancestral lands, read on to find more ideas for adding extra meaning to your next vacation.
Ho-Chunk History Walking Tour - La Crosse
This self-guided walking tour of Ho-Chunk ancestral lands was created by Voices of La Crosse, and folds in personal narratives from members of the Ho-Chunk nation as well as local professors and activists. All you need to bring for this activity is your phone, your curiosity and comfortable shoes. Print out or download this PDF ahead of time to act as your guide as you and your group stroll from one historical site to another. Personal narratives can be accessed by calling into the phone numbers provided at four out of the five sites, allowing you to hear these important stories firsthand. As you and your group make your way from the Mississippi River through downtown La Crosse, you’re sure to experience this Wisconsin city in a new and memorable way.
Roche-a-Cri State Park - Friendship
In French, Roche-a-Cri State Park’s name translates to “screaming rock,” a fitting name for the park’s 300-foot-tall mound, which you can access via a stairway that’s open from 6 a.m. to sunset. along with Native American petroglyphs (estimated to have been carved before A.D. 900) and pictographs (created between 400 and 500 years ago by Ho-Chunk ancestors). In addition to learning about these marvels through the help of interpretive panels, the park located in Friendship, WI—which is about an hour and a half drive east of La Crosse—features camping, hiking and fishing.
Rock Art Tours - Driftless Region
Extreme Driftless’ guided archeological tours—led by a mix of regional experts as well as nationally recognized archeological scholars, with deep passion for the state’s indigenous communities and their ancient past—cover two important areas of Wisconsin land connected to Native Americans: sacred effigy mounds and rock art, including symbols. Each is the subject of a half-day tour and includes hiking to caves and cliffs, which are difficult to access on one’s own. These are highly customized tours, perfect for a small group, and based on the group’s schedule. With any full or multi-day tour, there’s also an option to include complimentary primitive camping in the woods, so that you and your group can truly be immersed in nature and the storied past.
Nelson Dewey State Park - Cassville
Three sacred burial mounds (built between A.D. 500 and 900) and two villages (inhabited as far back as 7,000 years ago) lie within Nelson Dewey State Park, the oldest dating back 7,000 years ago. During the 1880s, a Smithsonian archeologist named Col. P.W. Norris documented these mounds and they have since been protected by the state of Wisconsin as well as federal laws. The adjacent Mississippi River served as an important spot for Native Americans’ hunting and fishing. Get a glimpse for yourself from the park’s perch on a 500-foot bluff.
Willowood Inn – Baraboo
Owned by Angela and Aaron Lowe, Willowood Inn sits on four acres very close to Devil’s Lake State Park and serves as an homage to Angela’s Native American culture. No two rooms are the same. Through murals, dream catchers and artwork by local Native American artists, the spaces help tell stories about the Hoocąk, Sioux, Assiniboine (Nakota), Blackfoot and Ojibwe tribes. Rates include continental breakfast and there are also grills on the property for guests’ use.
Experience even more Indigenous culture at these Native American-owned businesses and attractions throughout Wisconsin.