Brisbane, QLD

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Many old army ducks were bought and converted into a tourist attraction, in which we partook.

The gorge is lined with striking sandstone formations.

We sailed down the Wisconsin River which has a 'rich amber hue' according to the brochure. It looked muddy as a result of the river beginning in the Tamarack Swamps.

We passed Dawn Manor on the banks of the man made Lake Delton. The manor was built in 1855 by Captain Vanderpool a friend of Abraham Lincoln. The last owner was the wealthy Helen Raab, who filled it with art treasures from around the world.

Then the duck leapt out of the water and climbed over hills for panoramic views of the lake and then it plunged into the depths of the ferny Red Bird Gorge. It was a fun ride and the young college student driver/guide was humorous and informative.

Unfortunately this was the only attractive part of Wisconsin Dells. It is a popular midwestern tourist destination and "The water park capital of the world" and I believe it. As we entered the town there was just one water park after another lining the streets and one tacky resort after another. The town strip was lined with T-shirt and Fudge shops one after the other. We couldn't find a decent cafe for lunch (even though there must have been some in such a big tourist town) so we bought a healthy sandwich from a supermarket and then couldn't find a park to sit in and so we sat on the grassy footpath under a tree. We felt this was poor organisation on the part of our tour company.
The town was so tacky that I didn't take any photos. ( This is only my opinion)
Early in the morning we left Chicago and headed towards Minneapolis and St Paul. We stopped at Wisconsin Dells for lunch and a Duck ride. The Dells is a scenic, glacially formed gorge. Dells is derived from a french word meaning slabs probably describing the rocks. 


  1. Diane, the duck ride looks like fun. Thanks for the tour. This is the first I have heard of the Wisconsin Dells.

  2. I don't blame you. But those sandstone formations were well worth seeing. Never heard of Wisconsin Dells but I've only just ridden through Wisconsin. Never stopped to see anything. I'd like to see it.

  3. The ride in the duck looked like it would be fun but it sure sucks when you can not find a nice place to eat.

  4. wow that is picturesque country. the army ducks are such a good idea. lovely photo :)

  5. Unfortunately there are quite a few 'tacky' places like that in this country... Gatlinburg used to be a wonderful, lazy, country, mountain town --but is fast turning into another tourist trap... There are some good restaurants there though STILL. But the outskirts of Gatlinburg (Pigeon Forge and Sevierville) are definitely waterpark havens!!!!

    George has been to the Dells. They camped out when they went --and didn't even go into town much I don't think... This was about 60 yrs. ago also!!!!! Times have changed.

  6. Such a pity to learn that your trip to Wisconsin Dells was a disappointment. I managed to have a couple of trips across to the State of Wisconsin from either Minnesota or Iowa, and found the places visited of interest and very clean, not tacky! The people I met were really lovely folk and very interested in Australia. Times change, unfortunately.
    Still your honest opinion is to be respected.
    Colin (HB)

  7. Thanks for some more memories. The only real vacation my parents took with my brother and I was to the Wisconsin Dells. We took the vacation before my sister was born, so I must have been about nine. I remember the ducks and the Dancing Waters, but that is about all. We camped on that vacation and I don't remember the town at all.

  8. Huge fun to go on the type of ride the converted duck gives.
    The sandstone cliffs are beautiful.

  9. For me the beauty of nature outdoes the city every time ... tacky or not.

  10. The cliffs are good, pretty colours.
    I expect some places we visit according to brouchers do not live up to our standards. A caravan park in Winton was one for us, broucher showed really green lawns, but when we got there all sand and dirt, we still had a good time, that was when we had a caravan which we don't have now.
    Plus when you go to so many places there is bound to be something that isn't quiet right. Then we wonder why on earth that places was recommended.

  11. those rocks are totally amazing, never even heard of the dells, the are gorgeous

  12. Now you made me homesick ! I have been there so many times, we even had pic nics there and my son once did some camping with the neighbor's son and friends. I don't know if it has changed so much, but the Wisconsin Dells I know was not at all as you discribed, but I am also talking of about 16 years ago, lol ! Haven't you seen the Indian Dances ? that was really great.

  13. The gorge looks lovely. Too bad the town near it is a mess. You probably would have enjoyed Door County more...picking cherries and going for a sail on the lake to see the light houses and staying at a bed and breakfast.

  14. Well, I know not to visit the Wisconsin Dells, though the photos you took do prove it has at least one lovely spot! I was in famous Branson, Missouri a week ago and had the exact same impression...tackiness on a grand scale. It's disappointing.

  15. I grew up in Wisconsin Dells and it certainly has changed. The part of "Wisconsin Dells" your are describing with the water parks and fudge shops is actually Lake Delton or originally Town of Delton. Wisconsin Dells itself is down the strip, to the right, across the bridge. Several nice diners on the main street of downtown and a beautiful park. If you get a chance to return, check out H. H. Bennett photography studio downtown. The Dells has a very colorful history, much of which is documented in Bennett's photographs. Wisconsin Dells was originally named Kilbourn City and Dawn Manor that you saw on the Duck ride was originally in the Lost City of Newport. Whenever traveling in a tourist town, I always ask the "locals" for their recommendation on a nice restaurant (not a chain restaurant) or their local entertainment (parks, etc.) I have seen some of the most beautiful places on the advice of the "locals."