Mississippi River Lock and Dam
While visiting a Sparta Inn, a trip to the Lock and Dam at Dresbach, Genoa or Trempealeau will yield an engineering miracle/nightmare depending on your environmental view operated by the Army Corps of Engineers to move barge traffic up and down the Mississippi River. Pleasure boats and barges lock through the dam. Watch from an observation deck.
State Parks National Wildlife
“This land is your land…” State parks, forests and national wildlife refuges belong to all citizens and visitors. Choose from hiking, bird watching, photographing, canoeing and breath-taking scenery at Black River State Forest, Black River Falls; Wildcat Mountain State Park in Vernon County; Wyalusing State Park south of Prairie du Chien; or the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge north of Trempealeau, Wisconsin. Enjoy world class scenery without crowds and expensive prices. One of God’s Country’s best kept secrets! Only a Wisconsin State Park sticker required for admission. National Wildlife Refuge admission is free. Each of these state or national public lands is within an hour’s drive of Justin Trails Resort at Sparta, Wisconsin.
Donna Justin’s personal favorite drive on a sunny day anytime of year is I-90 crossing the Mississippi River near La Crosse, WI continuing past Lock and Dam # 6 at Dresbach to State Highway 61 north toward Winona, MN. The mighty Mississippi River creates islands and sandbars for resident eagles and migratory birds to rest. The background of bluffs with rock outcroppings among the hardwood forest on the Wisconsin and Minnesota side is a site more beautiful than the Amazon River. There are a couple of pull-off viewing areas for bird watching and photographers.
Any time of year is great for drive through the coulees. Drive Mallard Road south to State Highway 33 past a residence with 5 spring fed ponds. In May continue through the narrow valley with a moist, shady, hillside of mature trees. To the east, view the large, white flowered -Trillium, smell the columbine, and notice the May Apples unfurl their large leaves. June brings ferns unfurling.
During a country drive in Monroe County in July, Castor beans, 6 feet tall with large white flowers dot the roadside. Wild blue/purple phlox and wild old-fashioned roses can be spotted in areas with a grove of trees that may be an abandoned homestead.
Mother Nature shows the detail of the hills and valleys on a winter drive. A topless convertible or a motorcycle is a wonderful conveyance on winding country roads through this Driftless Area.
Nearby in Vernon and La Crosse County are several roads designated for travelers to enjoy the special beauty of that area. www.greatriverroad.org.