Life Along Wisconsin’s Great River Road And Why You Need To Go
By ANASTASIA PENCHI
It’s been the national symbol for the United States since 1782 when our newly formed country needed a national seal.
Despite declines, bald eagles have had a remarkable comeback in states like Wisconsin, where they soar majestically over the Mississippi River. And if you’ve ever visited famous tourist attractions like Yellowstone National Park, you know that people will do U-turns and drive into ditches just to get a glimpse of one.
There are plenty of places to see bald eagles along Wisconsin Great River Road, the 250 miles of Highway 35, which runs adjacent to the Mississippi River from Kieler, Wis., in the south, to Prescott in northern Wisconsin.
Start your search here:
See eagles at ground level
Overlooking Lake Onalaska is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Visitor Center, located within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (the migration flyway above the Mississippi River accessible in four states). More than 300 pairs of bald eagles nest the refuge and can be seen year-round: Mates renew their bond November until March with aerial displays; they teach young ones to hunt from March to October; and open water fish from November to March. The Onalaska Visitor Center is unique because it has two miles of paved and packed gravel trails and a River Walk exhibit that allows you to “walk on water” within the refuge. Take a look at what lies beneath the river surface – you might see something eagles like to eat.
Watch eagles in comfort
Wings Over Alma Nature & Art Center celebrates nature and art, while also promoting ethics in the environment. It is perched within the same refuge mentioned above, but you can see things from a higher location as the City of Alma spreads onto a bluff. The center boasts both a 50-foot viewing outdoor deck and interior viewing area, which is especially good for those with limited mobility. It’s also nice for those who prefer to do their eagle watching in temperature-controlled environments.
Spot eagles from your car
The Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce and Travel Wisconsin Welcome Center advises visitors who want to see eagles to stay in their vehicles. Apparently, eagles are used to these motorized bird blinds nowadays. Take a spotting scope and get comfy. Research eagle nest locations and feeding areas before you go by studying the tips on the chamber’s website. You can also learn more about them during Bald Eagle Appreciation Days, which is held every February.
Eagles have homes, too
An abundance of top quality wetland habitat is what makes the observatory at River View Park in Ferryville an eagle-spotting hub. Cold morning air warms and lifts, and eagles take advantage, soaring amid the nearby bluffs. The Annual Bald Eagle Watching Day takes place in March. There are numerous activities during the event including a live eagle program and local youth are asked to submit eagle-related art projects.
Meet the Writer
Anastasia Penchi is a self-employed writer who lives just off Wisconsin’s Great River Road. You can read more about Wisconsin’s Great River Road, and the festivals and people of Western Wisconsin, at the Web site: www.loislaneforhire.com.