June 5, 2018

An Outdoor Lover's Guide to the Sparta Area

Posted by: Jennifer

Summer means it is finally time to get outside and experience all the adventures Sparta & Southwestern Wisconsin have to offer. Whether it's kayaking down to the Kickapoo River, cycling along the Elroy-Sparta Trail, or hiking to the top of Grandad Bluff, Sparta in the summertime is truly an outdoor lover’s paradise.

Canoeing, Kayaking, and Tubing

The Kickapoo River’s leisurely pace and beautiful scenery make is ideal for canoeing, kayaking, or tubing. On a hot day, Spartan’s spend hours floating down this gently flowing river and soaking in the Midwestern sun. Though the river is mostly slow and shallow, there are also portions that will excite the more advanced adventurers. Many companies in town offer gear rentals as well as guided trips down the Kickapoo. We recommend:

Necedah National Wildlife Refuge

The Necedah National Wildlife Refuge is a beloved treasure of the region. Also known as the Great Wisconsin Swamp, this beautiful and diverse wildlife refuge is a great place to see whooping cranes, frogs, reptiles, migratory birds, and more than 44 species of butterflies. It is home to the world’s largest population of the Karner Blue Butterfly, who likes to nest in the refuge’s abundant wild lupine. Because of the unique climate of the region, you can find plants and birds with affinities for the tropics, Atlantic Coast, Rocky Mountains, and the tundra! Keep a lookout for the Rhexia plant, a bright tropical plant with yellow anthers and vibrant pink petals.


Hikes & Forest Strolls

Sparta’s many parks and nature reserves make it a popular resting-spot for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts from all around the region. Many of the following trails can also be used for cycling and horseback riding. We especially love Grandad Bluff. At 600 feet, the bluff is the highest point in the area and offers panoramic views of La Crosse, the Mississippi River, and the three surrounding states. Other great areas for hiking are:

  • Wildcat Mountain State Park
  • Kickapoo Valley Reserve
  • Hixon Forest Nature Center

For more tips on hiking in Sparta, read our previous blog post.

Mississippi River Cruises

Cruise down the Mississippi River in an authentic paddlewheel riverboat with the La Crosse Queen Cruises. This impressive replica of a 1900s riverboat docks in nearby La Crosse and takes its guest on a beautiful trip down the Mississippi River, where you can soak in unbeatable views of the surrounding bluffs and the local wildlife, including bald eagles, Blue Heron, and White Pelicans. Mississippi River Cruises offers a variety of different cruise options, such as the Captain’s Sunday Brunch, Saturday Night Dinner Cruise, Moonlight Cruise, and traditional Three Hour Paddlewheel Cruise. They even offer a pizza cruise for those who would like to soak in the beautiful sites with a slice of pepperoni in hand.


Beaver Creek Love Lock Bridge

Did you know that Sparta has its very own Love Lock Bridge? Though the most famous love lock bridge is probably over the Seine in Paris, you can also head to the bridge over the lovely Beaver Creek to declare your everlasting love in our charming & historic Midwestern town. The bridge connects the Sparta Free Library to Evans-Bosshard Park, a 6-acre park not far from downtown Sparta. Afterwards, take a stroll down the beautiful Beaver Creek Parkway and possibly stop for a romantic picnic along the way.


Planning an outdoor adventure to Sparta, Wisconsin? Book a stay at the lovely & historic Franklin Victorian Bed & Breakfast! for warm service and an unbeatable location. 


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