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Must-Visit Nature Day Trips

May 26
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By Rob McCoy, summer program coordinator

It is spring and I am definitely feeling the need to get out and explore the world. After a year-plus of COVID time, Wisconsin Youth Company encourages you to get outside too! Here are a few favorites to explore. Try them out and share to your favorite social media platform with the hashtag #wiyouthco.

Cave of the Mounds

One of Wisconsin’s Natural National Landmarks, Cave of the Mounds is open for tours daily and is a showcase for millions of years of geological creations. See if you can find the brachiopods, crinoids, cephalopods, and gastropods that have been fossilized within its walls. Make sure to bring a jacket, as the year-round cave temperature is 50 degrees. Above ground, be sure to check out the hiking trails that go through the prairies and oak savannahs. You can even find a few sink holes!

See Madison from the water

One of the best ways to see a new side of this great town is on the water. Canoes and kayaks can be easily rented from Wingra, Marshall, or Brittingham Boats. For beginners, try a quick paddle around Lake Wingra or Monona Bay. If you are experienced and looking for a full-day adventure, all four area lakes are connected by the Yahara River. Be sure to bring lifejackets for everyone in the boat. Start on the north side and the current will help take you on your journey south.

Kettle Moraine State Park

I am mainly familiar with the Kettle Moraine South, but all the sections of this state’s forest are amazing! Whether you are interested in hiking, biking or camping, they can all be experienced in your choice of prairies, rolling hills, or thick forests. If you are the type of person who wants to enjoy nature from the comfort of your own vehicle, there is a scenic drive that takes you by all of these great natural areas.

Rocky Arbor State Park

If you want a short little trek through the woods to offset other Wisconsin Dells activities, Rocky Arbor State Park is a great choice. The small park is just a mile or so north off the main strip in the Dells but still feels like a whole new world. Lush ferns and beautiful sandstone cliffs make this a great short getaway. You can hike year round or reserve a campsite starting May 27.

Olbrich Botanical Garden

On Madison’s near east side, Olbrich Botanical Garden offers an amazing decorative garden and conservatory. Outside are 16 acres of trails around more plants than I could hope to list here, along with decorative water fountains and pavilions. The Bolz Conservancy is the giant glass pyramid filled with over 475 species of exotic plants. The temperature inside is between 70 and 90 degrees and always humid, so you can leave your jacket behind. There are regular business hours for both and a small fee for this short tropical getaway.

Enjoy discovering the area with your families this spring and summer! Tag us or add hashtag #wiyouthco in your adventures!