8 Best Road Trips In Wisconsin That Are No Less Than Nature’s Treasure (2023)
There is so much more to the United States than what meets the eyes (and the internet) and one of the most beautiful examples for the same is the Dairy State, Wisconsin. Though, Wisconsin is famous for its dairy and farmlands; another glory that captivates here are the scenic roads. Yes, you read that right. Wisconsin is home to gorgeous highways and byways attracting road travellers. Once the ice starts leaving the flats, Wisconsin brings home-road travellers from across the nation. Be it the popularly known All-American Great River byway or the beautiful Door County byway; the options aren’t just enough but the best as well.
A road trip in Wisconsin needs nothing more than your car, tank full of fuel, seats full of people (or maybe not) and love for roads. Once you begin, the route will take you close to picture-worthy sights and a surprising side of Wisconsin. And if you want to soak in more than usual, drive slowly and stop at multiple attractions in between.
8 Best Road Trips in Wisconsin That Are No Less Than Nature’s Treasure
This way, you can have a little bit of everything from the state. So why wait? Let’s get into the virtual road journey of Wisconsin.
1. All-American Great River Road National Scenic Byway
Unarguably the best road trips in Wisconsin starts at the All-American Great River Road National Scenic Byway. The route is also known as Highway 35 which begins from Prescott in the North and ends in Kieler in the south. The entire Byway covers over 30 unique communities and 250 miles parallel to the Mississippi River. Nearly 2/3rd of this Byway passes through protected regions and incredible scenery. You get to see endless flora, fauna and lake beauties of Wisconsin on the way. Along with that, the Byway provides access to hundreds of Wineries, Breweries, Chess companies, historic towns, orchards and galleries.
The Best time to drive through this route is from Mid-August through October. It is when the fall foliage takes the driving experience to a whole new level of the panorama.
2. Wisconsin Lake Superior National Scenic Byway
The Wisconsin Lake Superior National Scenic Byway offers the most scenic road trips in the world. The Byway begins at Bayfield at the junction of Federal Highway 2 and covers 70 miles reaching ultimately State Highway 13 in Douglas County. As per claims and personal experiences, this Byway holds the most diversity in terms of geography, history and culture. No wonder a number of American presidents have always chosen to explore it. The highlights here are, of course, the clear waters of Lake Superior and the glory of the Apostle Islands. The Red Cliff Reservation and Gaylord Nelson Wilderness Area too are a part of this route.
The Best time to drive through this route is definitely during the summer months. Considering it has a number of beaches, recreational opportunities here will never come to an end. Though for someone who is looking to walk over the iced surfaces of Apostle Island, winter may become your next vacation season.
3. Kettle Moraine Scenic Route
The Kettle Moraine Scenic Route is definitely Wisconsinites’ favourite. This scenic route will take you through 6 counties from the North to the South inside the same-named State Forest. The route begins from Elkhart Lake, covering 115 miles, then ultimately reaching Whitewater Lake. In between, you can see first-hand the geological history of southeast Wisconsin comprising the beauty of thousands of years. As you continue, the route will take you through pristine beaches, historic sites, camping grounds, picnic places and other places to stop at. The best part is that not just driving, but a road trip here will allow you to explore places on foot. There are endless trails on the way that will make you stop the car and wander around insanely.
The Best time to drive through this route is during the Fall or Summer season. During the rest of the year, opportunities may drop down to some limitations.
4. Door County Coastal National Scenic Byway
Ask a traveller about Wisconsin, and he will never fail to mention Door County. It has miles of shoreline, islands, parks, villages, and towns, all of which is a part of the Coastal National Scenic Byway. This Byway goes to 66 miles starting from the City of Sturgeon Bay and ending at the harbour town of Northport. On the one hand, the route offers a settlement, whereas on the other shoreline and waterfront. It further takes you right somewhere into the forest-studded coastal drive edging along Lake Michigan. They say you haven’t had the best yet if you missed driving through this Byway. Enter the Newport state park on a clear night, lie down there, and observe one of America’s most star-studded sky. The surreal views here will leave you stunned and happy at the same time. Views of Niagara Escarpment bluffs and from multiple lighthouses are some other highlights here.
The Best time to drive through is all around the year. While the coastal side will make you fall in love during summers, the forest land will take your heart during Fall.
5. Highway 33 Scenic Drive
One of the oldest in Wisconsin, the Highway 33 scenic driveway is for all those old hearts (only hearts, not age). The route connects Horicon Marsh with Port Washington on Lake Michigan, comprising 93 miles. To your surprise, the road you drive upon here was built back in the 17th century, one of the very firsts of Wisconsin. On one side, it has Lake Michigan, whereas, on the other, it has the Mississippi River. For anyone who loves driving in mountains or hairpin turns will absolutely love this place. Highlights here include the Wildcat Mountain State Park, Amish farms, Grandad Bluff, and old African American settlements. If you have extra time in hand, there are several small towns to stop in between and several recreational activities to try.
You can enjoy your road trip here almost during any season of the year while still enjoying your best.
6. The Cranberry Highway
There isn’t a better route for enthusiasts who are planning just for a one-day road trip than the Cranberry highway. True to the name, this 50-mile-long highway cuts through expansive cranberry beds. It begins at the Wisconsin Rapids and goes all day long to Warren. On the way, you will see cranberry marshes full of bright red fruits. What makes the views more gorgeous is the trees’ fall leaves, adding more colours to the picture. Needless to say, cranberries are easily seen from the highway but stopping and stepping into the fields too never harms. Once you choose to leave the road, you will find yourself right between the splashes of red berries. Other highlights on the way include the old glacial lake, Sandhill Wildlife Area, Wisconsin Cranberry Museum and Rubi Reds.
The Best time to drive through this route is during the harvest season, and it goes from late September through late October. However, enthusiasts start populating the route from the Mid of August only.
7. The Scenic Highway 42
Home to Wisconsin’s most vibrant fall foliage, Highway 42 is a dream for every road trip lover. It begins from Manitowoc and goes all the way to Algoma. Though the route is no more than 15 miles, it still takes the title of the famous curvy road of Wisconsin. You can literally compare it to the drawing of curvy roads you used to make during the kinder garden. Apart from the twists of the road, what draws visitors the most here are the stunning fall foliage colours. For a moment, you may feel as if you are driving in one of those storybooks and not reality. That is why to no surprise; Highway 42 is also one of the most photographed places in Wisconsin.
Considering what it is famous for, the best time to drive here is during Falls, ideally October to November.
8. The Rustic Road System
Road trips aren’t just the best on Highways and Byways, but the rustic routes as well bring too much fun. And to live that the right way, enter the Rustic Road System in Wisconsin. The State of Wisconsin has 122 marked Rustic Roads at the moment. The roads pass through 61 counties covering over 740 miles. What makes them name Rustic are the dirt, asphalt, or gravel routes. The maximum speed here is no more than 46 miles per hour and even as low as 30 miles per hour. These routes are recommended for leisurely drives and not at all for drivers with back pains. For anyone who is a fan of off-roading, the Rustic Road system is definitely for their next road trip.
Though driving here is fun throughout the year, during monsoon, it can get a little messy. If you don’t want to get into mud puddles after every while, avoid the season. Also, consider taking off-roading vehicles or the ones with more ground clearance to be at ease.