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I love hiking in Wisconsin. I’m also appreciative of a great view. To me, there’s really nothing more refreshing than taking in a hike in the open air and being rewarded with a postcard view. I’ve been to just about every corner of Wisconsin through my travels with the Discover Wisconsin crew and am being reminded of this state’s beauty again and again.
So, here’s what I have for you: my round-up of Wisconsin’s most amazing aerial views!
1. Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area (Lodi)
Of all the destinations on this list, it may be Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area near Lodi that surprised me the most. Despite not being nearly as popular as its neighbor to the north — Devils Lake State Park — this place is a true stunner. You’ll park at the base of Gibraltar, embark on an uphill hike and eventually, take in the wonder of Lake Wisconsin and the Baraboo range.
2. Wyalusing State Park (Prairie du Chien)
One of the first episodes I filmed for Discover Wisconsin took me to the Prairie du Chien area. It’s been five years since that summer and the views I recall from Wyalusing State Park are still some of my favorite Wisconsin vistas — and the camping there never disappoints!
3. Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians (Hubertus)
Holy Hill draws more than half a million visitors of all faiths each year. It’s a gorgeous and sacred place with magnificent views — particularly during the fall months when you can stair-step your way up the Holy Hill Scenic Tower to take in a view from southeastern Wisconsin’s highest point.
4. Buena Vista Park (Alma)
Perched 500 feet above Alma along the Mississippi River, Buena Vista Park is a “small park with a big view.” You can hike or drive right to the top for a quiet perspective of both a small town and the Mighty Mississippi at your feet.
5. Juniper Rock Overlook (Grand View)
Another big surprise for me while filming Discover Wisconsin was Juniper Rock Overlook in Grand View near Cable. It’s located along the North Country Scenic Trail, which stretches 4,600 miles from North Dakota to New York and crosses right through northern Wisconsin. The hike itself is only about 20 minutes. As for the panoramic views? Well, don’t leave your camera at home.
6. Devil’s Lake State Park (Baraboo)
This just isn’t a write-up about great views without Wisconsin’s biggest and most popular state park. Some of the hiking here can be a bit challenging so gear up appropriately – but the views of the lake surrounded by miles of forestry make any tricky hike worthwhile.
7. Granite Peak at Rib Mountain State Park (Wausau)
This billion-year-old hill just so happens to be one of the oldest geological formations in the world and in my opinion, it’s also one of the prettiest. Take the ski lift up or climb the 60-observation towers for sprawling views of Marathon County.
8. Wisconsin State Capitol (Madison)
For both urban and unique, the view of Madison’s isthmus takes my breath away every time. There are a few different spots in downtown Madison where you can catch a glimpse of the bustling isthmus, but in my opinion, nothing beats the perspective from the observation deck atop the Capitol building.
9. Mt. Ashwabay (Bayfield)
Heading to the very top of Wisconsin, Mt. Ashwabay serves as a natural balcony to Lake Superior. If your experience is anything like mine, you’re going to feel pretty tiny standing on that big hill overlooking the world’s largest freshwater lake!
10. Grandad Bluff (La Crosse)
For the best view of La Crosse, hike your way to the summit of Grandad Bluff, the largest bluff in the area. Grandad Bluff hosts lots of events throughout the year including weddings, reunions and even the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration.
Full disclosure: If I weren’t shackled by a word limit, there are several other destinations that are worthy of being on this list. Here are just a few: Cliff State Park in Sherwood, Peninsula State Park in Door County and Pike Lake State Park in Hartford.
For questions, comments and ideas find me on social media! (@mariahhaberman)
Mariah Haberman is a host and the director of Discover Wisconsin, the state’s leading media brand. Watch the show Saturdays at 10 a.m. on FSN Wisconsin’s outdoor block or online at DiscoverWisconsin.com. Follow Mariah on Facebook (facebook.com/mar1ahha3erman) and Instagram (@MariahHaberman)