Photo by: Dylan Overhouse Productions
Due to ongoing changes, please check ahead with organizations and events before traveling. For more information on safe travel visit the CDC travel page.
La Crosse County
Where the Mississippi paddle wheelers dock in the summertime along the Wisconsin Great River Road, La Crosse County has beautiful vistas, gorgeous hiking, and historic downtown. The winter months bring with them their own unique ways to enjoy this gem nestled between the bluffs and the river.
Grandad Bluff rises 600 feet above the city of La Crosse, WI, and gives a breathtaking view of the city, the bridges crossing the Mississippi, and the Minnesota bluffs beyond. On a clear day, you can see Iowa as well from this stone-faced overlook. Grandad Bluff is easily accessible with a winding road to the top of the bluff, parking, bathrooms, and picnic areas. Green Coulee is a bluff overlook for the winter hiker. You’ll find a parking lot at the base of the hill in an Onalaska, WI neighborhood, but soon you will be surrounded by nothing but nature as you make the trek to the top. The main paths are wide and well cared for, great for snowshoeing.
Getting out into the Mississippi River Valley is made easy with the many hiking trails that can be explored in the area. Maps of the trails can be found on the City’s website. The Hixon Trails are a fun place to start with trails mapped out specifically for winter usage, including multiple cross country ski trails in lower Hixon, over five miles worth. Winter biking can also be enjoyed in the upper Hixon trails, with nine miles of mountain biking trails, many of which are groomed for fat biking in the winter.
Upper Mississippi US Fish & Wildlife Refuge
The Wisconsin Great River Road brings you along the edge of the longest wildlife refuge in the United States at 261 miles long. The La Crosse District of the refuge has a visitor center with 2 miles of trails through sand prairie. The Visitor Center itself offers a museum which includes a ‘river walk’ where visitors can walk on the river and see below the surface and the common species and plant life that call the region home. Ice fishing is popular in the backwaters during the wintertime, and large ice derbies are held out on Lake Onalaska, Pool 7 of the Mississippi, each year as the ice thickens.
Downtown La Crosse, WI is on the National Registry of Historic Places as a historic commercial district. The architecture of this quaint downtown lends itself to a fun afternoon of exploring, as many of the buildings are still open to the public with shops and restaurants. With Covid restrictions and deep cleaning in place, the public is still welcome at the boutique shops and dining establishments, just at a social distance. When visiting the downtown, a walk to the riverfront and a stroll along the river walkway is a must. The walk is capped at the northern end with an international garden that is beautiful any time of year.
Winter 2020 Events
What: Rotary Lights
When: Nightly through December 31st
Where: Riverside Park, La Crosse WI
About: With over 3 million lights, nearly 160,000 visitors per year enjoy this holiday tradition while driving, walking, or taking a carriage ride through Riverside Park.
What: La Crosse Chamber Chorale Home for the Holidays Virtual Concert
When: December 19
Where: Virtual Event
About: The La Crosse Chamber Chorale is excited to be sharing their musical talents with all of you from our home to yours this holiday season.
What: La Crosse Symphony Orchestra – Holiday Gems!
When: December 19
Where: Viterbo Fine Arts Center
About: Join members of the La Crosse Symphony as we offer an intimate celebration of the Holiday spirit: from “The Nutcracker” and “Greensleeves”, to Edvard Grieg’s exhilarating “Holberg Suite”, to a garland of Christmas classics from the Baroque era.
What: The Garage Sessions: Christmas Show
When: December 19
About: The 60+ minute Christmas show hosted by WXOW-Dustin Luecke debuts December 19 and will feature performances from area musicians, performers, and performing arts organizations.