Episode Six

River Travel Media/La Crosse Local

To find out more about the Wisconsin Great River Road please check out the website www.WiGRR.com to find out about Wyalusing State Park find them at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/wyalusing/

Bob: Chad Breuer is the Property Supervisor of Wyalusing State Park. Wyalusing is kind of a different name. Where does the name come from, Chad?

Chad Breuer: It comes from the Native American word meaning ‘Where the old, or the Holy Man, dwells.’ I think what sets us apart is just where we’re located. We have the river, the confluence, the bluffs. And that’s why the park was formed back in 1917.

Bob: [It’s] over 100 years old. What kind of changes have been made in those 100 years, Chad?

Chad: Well, we’ve added camping. We’ve added more electrical sites. One hundred years ago, people were relying on rustic tent camping. Now, people like to still camp and get out, but [they also want] some of those luxuries of having, in case rain comes in, that camper, the grill or the oven, and the refrigerator to keep food cold. To be honest, my wife likes to sleep in a bed at night, so it’s those little things that a camper has that a tent doesn’t. We have sites for campers and a site for tent camping. A lot of people still tent camp. It’s very popular yet year-round; we even have people come in the winter and tent camp, so that’s pretty neat to get out and talk to those folks.

Bob: Do you have showers?

Chad: Yes, absolutely. We have two campgrounds. One [is] on the Wisconsin Ridge; that’s the older campground. It overlooks the bluff, and at night you can see the lights of Prairie du Chien. Then we have another campground – Homestead campground – that’s located a little more interior of the park. [It’s] a little more secluded, [and they’re] beautiful sites. [There is] a brand-new shower building, [and it’s] a beautiful shower building. We have about 109 campsites between the two campgrounds.

Bob: I’m assuming since you’re on the backwaters that kayaking is probably a pretty big thing to do there as well.

Chad: Absolutely. We have a canoe trail. We have a canoe trail that kind of heads south from the park, and you can head north out of the park. Our friends group, the Friends of Wyalusing, is a nonprofit group that works just to support the park. They support programs in the park, especially like our naturalist positions. They have canoes they rent every day. You can come up to our concession stand and rent the canoes from the Friends [of Wyalusing]. And that money stays right back here with the park by supporting our naturalist program by giving us the opportunity to hire someone to put on programs throughout the summer.

Bob: You mentioned a canoe trail. What is a canoe trail?

Chad: We’ve got signs up so people don’t … You get in the backwaters in the refuge there, and people could get lost. This way, we have signs up just marking a path, a route, for people to canoe so they don’t get lost if they’re not from the area.

Bob: If somebody hasn’t been to Wyalusing before, what would be the definite ‘you’ve got to see this’ moment there?

Chad: The big thing you have to see is Point Lookout. That’s why the park was identified; it’s where the confluence [of] where the Wisconsin [River] flows into the Mississippi [River]. We’ve got some great lookouts all along the park in the bluffs. If you want to come down and you want to spend some time, go to these lookouts and walk some of the trails and see the bluffs. If you’ve never seen it, it’s just spectacular. We’re 800 feet above the river, so it’s just spectacular views from up on the points.

Bob: Being on the Wisconsin Great River Road has a lot of perks. What are some of the perks that you find for Wyalusing being on the Great River Road?

Chad: I think anybody who’s traveling, this is definitely a destination stop. People are going to travel the Great River Road, and this is just a destination stop for people. They might not camp, but they’re going to come spend a few hours here seeing the park [and] going to the lookouts. They can look over the bluffs into Prairie du Chien, into Iowa and Marquette, [and] Pikes Peak State Park. If you’re traveling the Great River Road, this is a destination stop.

Bob: Where can people go, Chad, to find out more information about the park?

Chad: Definitely go online to the Wisconsin DNR [website] and type in ‘Wyalusing State Park.’ That’s a great way to start. It’s going to talk about the park and what we have to offer.

Bob: The big question is, you said type in ‘Wyalusing.’ How do you spell Wyalusing?

Chad: [It’s spelled] W-Y-A-L-U-S-I-N-G.

Bob: Is there anything I’m missing, Chad, that I should be asking you about?

Chad: On the Great River Road – correct me if I’m wrong – we’re talking about Highway 35?

Bob: Yup.

Chad: Then there’s a smaller property just south of Wyalusing, [and that’s] Nelson Dewey State Park. That is adjacent to historic Stonefield Village. When you do travel the Great River Road, make some time to stop at Nelson Dewey also. We have hiking trails, [but] not as many. We don’t have the boat landing, but you still have really neat lookouts down there. A lot of people go down there and they hit the lookouts, then they can go across the road and they’re at historic Stonefield Village.