A95C38CC 3B18 4632 9926 C71766E6EBC1 - Driftless in WisCOWsin

Driftless in WisCOWsin

Driftless, Wisconsin cow
The Driftless in WisCOWsin sculpture captures the landscapes that make the Driftless area famous. My best Flikr friend Shihmei Barger took this photo.

Our first stop on our long and winding trip to San Diego was to the Driftless area of Wisconsin.

Driftless: More Than Just A Cool-Sounding Name

While it may sound more like a 1980’s grunge band than an actual location, the Driftless area got its name because during the Ice Age, when glaciers covered most of Wisconsin and deposited sediments called drift, the glaciers never actually made it to this region… which means no sediment – or drift – deposit.

Driftless map
The Driftless region spreads across four states. We stayed in Vernon County, which is south of LaCrosse.

Our drive east from Minnesota was timed right: the Driftless hillsides were still holding onto their bright autumn colors.

Wisconsin Travel, Driftless wisconsin
The Wisconsin scenery east of the Minnesota border was breathtaking.

Organic Farmers’ Paradise

Driftless is known for its Norwegian ancestry and its flourishing Amish community. Organic farmers and entrepreneurs have also flocked to the area in recent years. The topography of the valley is such that land is mostly available in only small parcels which means specialty farms find the area very appealing. In fact, agriculture now brings in about $217 million to the area’s economy. Both the well-known Organic Valley and GoMacro brands call this area home.

Organic valley
Organic Valley is headquartered in The Driftless region.

Fun And Games With Animal Droppings

A great place to learn about the Driftless Region is the 8,600-acre Kickapoo Valley Reserve. The Reserve is a popular hiking and snowshoeing spot. There is a nice Visitor Center but it’s the one place dogs aren’t allowed on the Reserve.

Visit Driftless
The Reserve Visitor Center has a small, interactive museum about the area.

My dad thought the highlight of the Reserve Visitor Center was, not surprisingly, the “interactive” droppings exhibit: you had to guess which “dropping” belonged to what animal. See if you can guess without the help of scratch and sniff:

Deer poop, raccoon poop, Driftless Visitor Center
I think deer droppings, which smell delicious to dogs by the way, look like little chocolate Easter eggs. The raccoon droppings, on the left, kind of remind me of the cookies CoCo leaves in her litter box. They taste yummy too of course!

Farm To Table Eating

Everyone was hungry after all that scratching and sniffing. We drove a short distance to downtown Viroqua and they feasted at the farm-to-table Driftless Cafe.

Driftless cafe
The Driftless Cafe uses only locally-sourced ingredients for its menu, which changes daily.

What a fun place and it’s much bigger on the inside than you’d think! The walls are lined with colorful pictures of local farmers from whom the Cafe buys its ingredients. Every day the menu changes depending on what is available from the local area. My parents loved the fig and pig thin crusted pizza (figs, chunks of bacon and blue cheese).

Driftless cafe
My parents enjoyed a delicious fig and pig pizza with Cousin Doug and wife Sandy at the Driftless Cafe in Viroqua.

Coffee And Slingshots

After grabbing a cup of joe and a mouthwatering gingerbread cookie at Kickapoo Coffee (named after the nearby Kickapoo River), we returned to my dad’s cousin’s man-cave. I had a blast running around this gigantic shop filled with a 48-inch snowblower, motorcycles, trucks, mowers, tractors, a four-wheeler and even a Slingshot!

We didn’t get to actually take the Slingshot for a ride since the weather was windy and rainy. These babies can go from 0 to 60mph in less than 5 seconds. Boy, would my ears flap!

Where to Stay

I loved our short visit to Viroqua and learning about the Driftless region and, of course, visiting with Cousin Doug, his wife Sandy and their dog Slugger. We parked our COW at Doug’s house. If you’re taking your RV through the Viroqua area, you’ll find the roads easy to navigate (even in town) and the local Walmart available for dry camping. Or you can stay outside of Cousin Doug’s Man Cave.

Now we’re on our way south to Black Earth and Clinton!

Have you visited the Driftless area? Or taken a ride in a Slingshot? Or a rocket ship? Leave me a comment and let me know!



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Can’t wait to see what you say! Woof!