Along the southwestern border of Wisconsin is Wyalusing State Park, which is where the lower Wisconsin River meets the Mississippi. About 500 feet above where the rivers meet is an abundance of outdoor space and natural beauty just begging to be explored. I first discovered Wyalusing on a travel Wisconsin website and it’s been on my list of parks to explore ever since so when my friend Kelsey invited me to join her and a group of about 15 others to set up camp here for the weekend, I jumped at the opportunity.
Although most people I’ve talked to about Wyalusing have never been there or even heard of it, it definitely didn’t disappoint. I now consider it one of Wisconsin’s hidden gems, offering plenty of scenic views, hiking trails, and canoeing and kayaking opportunities. You can even go birding here if that’s your thing. Although I’m not so much into that, the number of bald eagles I spotted from different vantage points was amazing. Their sheer enormity left me awe-struck and watching them soar among the tree tops in mass made me feel a sort of spiritual connection to the earth.
The fact there were few people in the park definitely added to the overall experience. Typically, group camp sites leave a lot to be desired (overcrowded, no privacy, flat grassy land) but I was impressed with the sites here. Our little camping village was nestled at the end of a long drive and in the shape of a horseshoe, meaning we were secluded from other campers and surrounded by trees. It made the experience more intimate and friendly – a home away from home – and offered more opportunity to get to know some of the other people there. I came away from the trip feeling fortunate to have met Kelsey and her group of friends. They’ve all been so warm and welcoming but Kelsey especially has invited me into her life with open arms. I think what helps is that of everyone, only one is a native Wisconsinite. Everyone else moved here from out-of-state so there’s a sort of kinship and bond in understanding what it’s like to move to a city where you know no one.
Speaking of bonding, by far my favorite part of the weekend (which ironically had nothing to do with being outdoors) was the result of an impulse buy. On the way out of town, Kelsey and I stopped at Woodman’s to pick up a few items and inevitably got sidetracked by the giant pit of piñatas. Even though we were a group of adults, there was no reason not to blindfold people and watch them whack at something with a bat. It was the best $10 I’ve spent in a while. If I had thought about it more, I would have filled it with something other than candy, like baby bottles of booze. Who wouldn’t want that raining from the sky?! We certainly got some strange looks from other campers and I imagine we all looked like total red necks but it was fun. Plus, I love telling the story of Kelsey and me walking out of Woodman’s with a giant piñata, a bag of candy, a case of beer, 5 packets of taco seasoning, and ice.