Wisconsin's Rivers: Motorcycle Touring

Three routes for motorcycling touring Wisconsin’s rivers.

| July/August 2013

  • River Watershed
    The Kickapoo, Wisconsin and Mississippi river watersheds offer some of the best motorcycle touring in the world.
    Photo By Gary Ilminen
  • Destinations
    The concrete control tower at the unfinished dam near La Farge.
    Photo By Gary Ilminen

  • River Watershed
  • Destinations

Wisconsin's Rivers
What: Three great routes following the Kickapoo, Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers in Wisconsin.
Best Kept Secrets: Visit Taliesin, famed Wisconsin architect Frank Lloyd Wright's incredible summer home in Spring Green, Wis.
More Info and Photos: Lower Wisconsin State Riverway.

The watersheds of the Kickapoo, Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers offer some of the best motorcycle touring in the world, in a spectacular part of southwest Wisconsin called the Driftless Area. “Drift” is what geologists call the stone fields left behind after a glacier grinds the land down and then melts away. But since glaciers never covered the area it’s “driftless,” with soaring sandstone bluffs, pinnacles, towers and walls that look more like what you’d expect to see in the desert southwest, jutting up out of rolling green pastures.

The Kickapoo River

The Kickapoo River offers some of the best riding, snaking its way south 65 miles from Ridgeville in Monroe County to its confluence with the Wisconsin River at Wauzeka.

From Wauzeka, run the Kickapoo south to north. Take SR 60 east to SR 131, then go north on 131. This begins the experience of traversing the entire length of a river from its mouth to its headwaters.

Along the way, you’ll go through tiny villages like Viola, the ancestral home of S&S Cycles. Farther up 131 is La Farge and the dam that never was. In the late 1960s, the federal government schemed to tame the Kickapoo with a huge dam near La Farge. In 1970, the Federal Environmental Protection act was passed, and enviromental concerns led to costly changes and delays. The project came to a halt, unfinished, in 1975. Today, a large portion of the dam that was constructed stands north of town, and next to it, jutting some 60 feet high, stands a concrete obelisk that was built to house the controls for the flood gates.

North of La Farge on 131 lies tiny Rockton and the Rockton Bar, a motorcycle-friendly spot that hosts a tasty outdoor chicken barbecue every Sunday from April to October. North of Rockton, the curves come even closer together as you cross SR 33; a right turn here takes you south to Wildcat Mountain State Park and wonderful switchback roads. Keep heading north on 131 through Wilton and you’ll have ridden the entire length of the Kickapoo River!

7/26/2013 4:54:21 PM

Have to go back every yr. Always find new backroads to explore and little farm towns. Want to retire there.

Richard Backus
7/19/2013 10:10:39 PM

Wisconsin is beautiful, no question. Every time I ride through I wonder why i don't live there. Miles and miles of fantastic roads.

Bryan Cole
7/19/2013 2:11:11 AM

what a beautiful location is the Kickapoo, wisconsin and missippssppi rivers photo, would love to ride around all of that location, but alas i live in australia

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