By Lisa Kivirist
If experiencing a slice of quintessential small-town Wisconsin life with ample outdoor experiences ranks high on your travel to-do list, put La Farge on your itinerary.
A postcard-perfect scenic backdrop gifts you with an oasis of recreational choices.
Consider getting there by canoe: Rent one from the humorously named Kickapoo Yacht Club Canoe Rental (based north of town at the Rockton Bar & Restaurant), paddle downstream for 10 miles, and pull off at Landing 20. You'll be in the heart of La Farge - and complimentary car-spotting and shuttles provided by the rental company mean you'll never have to paddle upstream.
The scenic and recreation opportunities are plentiful, and the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center is a good place to start. This modern headquarters, which is Travel Green Wisconsin certified, provides an engaging education jump-start to your Reserve visit. Pick up trail maps and learn about the area's native plants and animals as well as the underlying history of the La Farge Dam Project that resulted in this preserved natural wonderland of more than 8,000 acres.
For the adventurous traveler, primitive campsites are available on the Reserve. Or join the annual Kickapoo Valley Reserve Dam Challenge Triathlon for a seven-mile paddle down the winding Kickapoo River, 15 miles of hilly biking, then a three-mile run through a wooded Reserve trail.
After working up an appetite outdoors, you can find hearty fare back at the Rockton. Hang out with the locals in the cozy log cabin dining room. If the timing is right, don't miss the legendary Friday fish fry and Sunday “almost world famous barbequed chicken.”
For sandwich fixings and organic dairy, meat and produce at great prices, check out the Organic Valley Retail Store. Now one of the largest organic companies in the country, Organic Valley started and remains firmly rooted in La Farge as a farmer-owned cooperative, and continues to help drive the growth of organic agriculture in Wisconsin. Vernon County boasts more organic farms than any other county in the nation.
How to feel like you're a local:
Check out Larryfest for a weekend of dancing, camping, and plenty of live bluegrass. Come prepared to hear both well-loved artists and fresh local talent, to camp the old fashioned way (bring your own water!), and to slow down and enjoy the musical magic of this beloved festival.Lisa Kivirist is co-author of Rural Renaissance and ECOpreneuring and writes from her farm in Browntown. Content produced in cooperation with Wisconsin Trails, www.Wisconsintrails.com.