Wisconsin specializes in unique adventures, many of which involve inflatable fun. Here, you and your family can ride tubes down snow-covered hills and refreshing rivers, mountain bike through former railroad passageways and ATV together in the towering Northwoods. Read on to discover all the ways to play outside like a Wisconsinite.
Check out the original article in the Wisconsin Travel Guide for more travel inspiration!
River-Floating Tube Parties
Wisconsin’s resorts and campgrounds bustle in the summer with the promise of refreshing escapes for friends and families along the state’s waterways. River tubing is an undisputed family favorite, with tubes that hook together to keep the little ones close for a mellow float through nature. These rides last from two to five hours, so pack plenty of food and drink and latch a cooler tube into the middle of your floating party to stayed fueled up for your adventures.
Along the Apple River, outfitters specialize in this Wisconsin tradition. Rent tubes from Apple River Hideaway, River’s Edge Campground or Apple River Family Campground and make it a whole weekend escape. Link your tubes together with family and friends for a refreshing ride that includes some sections of mild rapids. Some outfitters in the area offer extra comfy tubes with backrests and drink holders to fully embrace the lazy-river concept. Want more speed? Hitch up to a boat and water-tube on the state’s many recreational lakes.
For a Wisconsin resort experience, check your family in at Log Cabin Resort in Trego to tube on the Namekagon River, a scenic waterway with sandbars and beaches along the way. Find a cove to set up a picnic and watch other tubers float by. Perhaps the most luxurious tubing takes place at Wisconsin Riverside Resort in Spring Green, where cloth tubes with waterproof seats keep you nice and dry even on the water.
Get Rollin’ on Two Wheels
Some of the most scenic exploration in Wisconsin happens on two wheels, no matter the season. Rugged mountain biking trails take riders into the backwoods while flat rails-to-trails paths take cyclists on the back routes to small towns.
CamRock County Park in Cambridge is one of the state’s most popular mountain-biking destinations. Located between Madison and Milwaukee, CamRock offers a quick getaway for adventure outside of the city.
At Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, more than 300 miles of mountain-bike trails offer complete immersion in northwest Wisconsin with fast, flowing single-track. And when the snow falls, get out the fat-tire snow bikes to share well-groomed trails with snowmobiles.
The Elroy–Sparta State Trail offers smooth riding through prairies and farmland (and three rock tunnels, one almost a mile long) in southwest Wisconsin. The first rails-to-trails conversion in the country remains a point of pride with local riders. Stop in any of the five friendly towns along the scenic 32.5-mile route where you and your crew will find shops, breweries and cafés that fully embrace bike culture.
Head Out for 4x4 Fun
Satisfy your family’s thirst for adventure in Wisconsin’s backwoods, where explorers get deep into the trees on all-terrain vehicles. Locals ride ATVs here year-round, but visitors often choose to hit the trails in autumn to be immersed in unforgettable fall color. The varied geography of the state comes into play and offers everything from leisurely rides on well-groomed trails through rolling hills to rugged adventure- and nature-filled rides that include thrilling bumps and climbs.
Though much of Wisconsin was flattened by massive glaciers, the Driftless Region in southwest Wisconsin has steep elevation changes and rugged valleys to explore. The Cheese Country Recreation Trail is a popular Driftless trail with 47 miles that follow an abandoned rail line and features a trestle bridge over the Pecatonica River.
Up North, adventurous off-roaders ride the Iron County ATV Trails near Hurley. The network of five trail systems stretches more than 200 miles and passes historic mining and lumbering sites along the way. When you happen upon a waterfall or a lake emerges from the thick forest, idle down and take a moment with your friends to enjoy the natural wonder around you.
One-Tube Winter Wonders
In the chilly months, Wisconsin takes snow tubing to the next level. Many tubing hills come with lifts that take riders back to the top of slopes for unlimited winter fun, especially at lighted parks that stay open after dark. Snow tubing is a favorite family outing because every member of the family can join in. Just sit down, let gravity take over and wait for shouts of joy to echo through the snowy landscapes.
Most of the state’s ski resorts invite visitors to play on their on-site tubing hills. But some tubing locations may surprise you. At Ariens Hill in Green Bay’s Titletown, a 300-foot tubing hill overlooking Lambeau Field is the perfect spot for a memorable hot-chocolate tailgate party or a fun family night out.
If your family is ready to kick it up a notch, check out some of these hold-on-to-your-tube experiences. Outta Bounds Tubing Park at Mont du Lac Resort features multiple 500-foot tubing runs built for speed through the woods. The moguls at Nordic Mountain Tubing Park create a wavy up-and-down slide. Tube Town at Cascade Mountain has a 900-foot chute that allows you to gain some serious speed.
Whether your favorite group adventures involve tubes, tires or all of the above, Wisconsin is full of endless opportunities for thrilling fun. Keep the outdoor fun going by exploring these 7 awe-inspiring natural wonders of Wisconsin.