Just outside of Wisconsin’s bustling cities, perched in forests, marshes and prairies, lies richly diverse wildlife. From four-legged furry friends to high-flying birds of prey, these refugees and parks provide a safe place for animals to soar, roam or prowl. Take a walk on the wild side and check out some of these great places for viewing Wisconsin’s native animals.
Horicon Marsh – Mayville
One of the largest freshwater marshes in the United States, this Wisconsin gem is home to over 300 species of birds set on 33,000 acres. Hike or bike the trails and keep an eye out for muskrats, red foxes, pelicans, and more. Bring your pole and fish for perch, pike, or bullhead in one of the designated locations. While you’re near the water, look for frogs, snakes and turtles that make the marsh their home. Open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. during daylight hours, and admission is always free -- even for Fido, as long as he stays leashed. Stop at the visitor center for a map, information, or a pair of binoculars.
Schlitz Audubon Center – Milwaukee
The Schlitz Audubon is a 185-acre stretch of natural habitat along Lake Michigan, just miles from the hustle and bustle of downtown Milwaukee. Trade the urban jungle for woodlands, ponds, and prairies where over 250 species of birds have been recorded. Enjoy miles of scenic trails or take one of Schlitz’s all-ages nature education programs. The Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for kids, and members are always free.
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge – Trempealeau
Explore 6,000+ acres nestled along the eastern edge of the mighty Mississippi. This refuge is considered one of the best bird watching locations in the Midwest and its bottomland forests, marshes, and oak savannas are home to yellow-rumped warblers, sandhill cranes, black tern and peregrine falcons. Stop at the Interpretive Center Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for maps and expert seasonal advice. Insider Tip: Take the scenic route along the Great River Scenic Byway on your way there and/or back.
Peninsula State Park – Fish Creek
A list of Wisconsin’s finest nature centers or wildlife reserves wouldn’t be complete without this park. Over 3,000 acres of soaring bluffs, colorful meadows, and towering forests make a great home to eagles, owls, rabbits, and just about any critter you can think of. (Your best chance to see deer is around dusk when they are out feeding.) Rent a bike, canoe, or kayak and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Door Peninsula. Be sure to grab your camera and hike the observation tower to an amazing view of the surrounding area! Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. or camp out in a tent, RV, or trailer in one of the many rental sites.
Get out there and be sure to share your photos with us on Facebook.