Long before it was considered the “waterpark capital of the world,” families flocked to the Wisconsin Dells to spend their summer vacation amidst the beauty of nature. The history of the Dells as a vacation destination dates back to the mid to late 1800s when visitors were attracted by the sandstone bluffs, countless caves, and of course, the Dells.
Derived from the French word, dalles, the actual Wisconsin Dells exist from a melting glacier some 20,000 years ago. Melting waters cut into the sandstone landscape and as the waters receded towering sandstone cliffs emerged and the gorge was created. With the river below and the high bluffs above, it became a place of natural amazement. H.H. Bennett, a Civil War photographer, came to photograph the scenic area and created stereoscopic images that depicted the magnificent dells as multidimensional. Those photographs were eventually turned into postcards and soon the whole country knew about this fantastic place in the Midwest. In 1856, the Wisconsin Mirror wrote this about the Dells – “We conclude that the wild, romantic scenery of the Dells will always make them a place of resort for seekers of pleasure.”
And that’s the way it remains to this day – except now there are waterparks galore (more than 20 as a matter of fact) as well as a few more tourist attractions.
The Wisconsin Ducks, Army surplus vehicles that can travel on land and water, have been a Dells mainstay since they first arrived in 1946. These vehicles provide a unique way to tour the Dells. Today, the Wisconsin Ducks have more than 92 vehicles making it the largest fleet of Duck tours in the country. Duck tours last about an hour and will take you through Lake Delton and the Lower Dells of the Wisconsin River.
You can also take a step back in time and see where it all began in a tour of the H.H. Bennett Studio and Museum. See how Bennett was able to capture The Dells in their three-dimensional beauty. Start your Dells visit off with a tour of this piece of history and get an idea of how the Dells became so popular.
Another historic attraction is the Wisconsin Deer Park. Set on 40 acres of land, the park breeds and raises deer and has separate feeding areas where visitors can feed the deer. In addition to the deer, visitors can also see lemurs, bison, elk, goats, llamas, and horses.
And of course, The Dells is famous for its many water parks – Noah’s Ark is the largest in the United States and features two lazy rivers, wave pools and new this year, Raja, a water slide experience with 335 feet of twists and turns ending with a thrilling 37-foot plunge into the mouth of the King Cobra!
There’s plenty for the outdoor adventurer as well – from zip line courses to rock climbing adventures; horseback riding and wineries to explore, visiting the Dells is nonstop fun and adventure.
For more Dells attractions and information, visit wisdells.com.
Stay at a Petite Retreat in Wisconsin! From rustic log cabins to beautiful yurts, the Petite Retreats in Wisconsin are the perfect way to lodge when you are visiting the Wisconsin Dells. Visit petiteretreats.com for more information.