Activities, Services

A Vertically Inclined Vacation

Wisconsin Dells can rightfully claim to be one of the Upper Midwest’s premier adventure destinations. And, among the most thrilling and unforgettable adventures you can partake in while here is both indoor and outdoor rock-climbing. The diversity of climbing options in the Dells area attests partly to its wonderfully unique geology: all the craggy buttes, gorge walls, and exposed cliffs scattered throughout the region provide opportunities more akin to those you’d encounter out West. So don’t forget to thank millions of years of sedimentary deposition, glacial modifications, and the endless work of running water and wind as you partake in Wisconsin Dells’ outdoor sports!

Some of the Wisconsin Dells area resorts have indoor climbing walls among their amenities. The Kalahari Resort, for example, includes impressive examples in its 100,000-square-foot indoor theme park. Offering the chance to introduce yourself to the sport in a safe and monitored environment, climbing walls certainly spice up your family’s fun-filled resort vacation—and may just plant the climbing bug in you. Whatever the weather outside is doing, an indoor climbing wall beckons.

If you’re interested in climbing outdoors on natural rock formations, you’ve got a number of options in the greater Wisconsin Dells region. Guided rock-climbing is available through numerous area businesses. Vertical Illusions, for example, can escort beginners and veterans alike up the stunning cliffs of Chimney Rock, for jaw-dropping views of the countryside and a major sense of accomplishment. (The company also runs unique canopy zip-lining tours at Chimney Rock.) You can even try the exciting and relatively recent sport of waterfall-climbing.

Vertical Illusions and plenty of the other area guides also provide climbing instruction and fun at one of the Midwest’s premier spots for the sport: Devil’s Lake State Park. Devil’s Lake is cupped within massive, 400-foot cliffs of hard and ancient quartzite in the heart of the Baraboo Hills. Few places in this part of the country accommodate the spectrum of climbing routes that Devil’s Lake does. Bouldering opportunities, for example, exist in the park’s scattered boulder fields and outcrops like Tombstone Rocks, where you can practice your climbing skills or simply have loads of fun on a sunny day.

Meantime, the cliff faces—East Bluff, West Bluff, South Bluff, and others—play host to loads of different technical routes of varying levels of difficulty. Climbing opportunities exist throughout the year, but it’s certainly an especially memorable activity in the autumn, when the mixed hardwoods mingling with the pines flare their famous crimsons and yellows—setting the Baraboo Hills aflame from your cliff-side vantage. The crisp weather of this time of year is certainly a bonus, as well.

When you’re done climbing, you can relax in a paddleboat or a canoe on the waters of Devil’s Lake itself, or go on a cool-down hike through forest and rock-field trails. Devil’s Lake State Park also offers camping and the chance to admire some prime examples of Midwest indigenous effigy mounds.

Local spots to rent or buy climbing gear include Wildside Adventure Sports in Baraboo, conveniently located only minutes from Devil’s Lake State Park. Staff at such outfitters can help you with every step of the gear-selection process, and also recommend particular routes. These are great places to hang out and soak up some knowledge as you deck yourself out for the cliffs, the boulder piles, and the pinnacles!

So take your next vacation to Wisconsin Dells to the next level and ensure it’ll be a wonderfully memorable one. Strap on your helmet and your climbing shoes and get scrambling! Few activities offer the combination of physical exercise and adventure, socializing, fresh air, and incomparable vistas and perspectives. Whether you’re looking for a guided tour, an independent outing, or a sociable afternoon at the rock wall in between water sports and other fun, the Wisconsin Dells area has got the vertically inclined covered.


Reference: Mountain Project: Climbing Devil’s Lake