I’m not the sort of person who likes to go out alone. If I’m going shopping, I bring a friend, or if there is a park I really want to see, I bring a friend. It took me having a roommate who worked opposite shifts to be comfortable going grocery shopping by myself. I like the accountability and the companionship of having someone go with me. But my time of always having a handful of friends at the ready is coming to an end. Once I move to Washington state, I’m only going to have two other people I know in the town I live in and they are going to have just had a baby. Definitely not prime shopping or hiking buddies.
This leads me to Wyalusing State Park. It’s located south of Prairie du Chien, WI where the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers converge and is just under 2 hours from my house. I wanted to see this park before I leave for Washington state and I was going to use it as a testing grounds. I wanted to see what a solo trip felt like and how big the learning curve was going to be for me to feel comfortable doing them. So, on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, I got in my car with my tennis shoes and a bottle of water and drove.
This part of Wisconsin is truly beautiful. All along the Mississippi River, there are giant bluffs and rolling hills with gorgeous lookout points. I knew that I wanted to see that part of the park. When I looked at the map, I decided to go down their list of interesting places in the park and see as many as I was able.
Point Lookout, Treasure Cove, Council and Signal Points
I parked my car nearest to Point Lookout and got walking. Down a small incline was Point Lookout. No matter how many times I get to see the Mississippi River valley it always amazes me. This sight, in particular, was astounding because of the presence of the Wisconsin River. Also, both rivers were very high at the time, so they looked even more massive.
I walked along a path to the right on my way to Treasure Cove. I really had no idea what it was, but figured since it was on the map it must be good. I encountered a set of steep stairs that I went down and then a sign pointing up a different set of steep stairs. It turns out Treasure Cove is a cave. I didn’t go deep into the cave since it involved crawling and I had no flashlight, but it was really cool to go into and climb up to!
I finished this part of my time at Wyalusing by visiting two more lookout points. Signal Point was the most impressive. It had a sign completely laying out the view and what cities and other landmarks were visible. And, as always, the view was amazing! Council Point was pretty overgrown from trees but was very close to the road and it was an easy walk back to my car.
Sentinal Ridge Effigy Mounds and the Passenger Pigeon Memorial
Next, I decided to go down the road to the boat landing. On the way, there is a picnic area that has a memorial to the Passenger Pigeon. I got there and was immediately drawn to the fabulous view and I walked along the path there and I passed by several effigy mounds. They were mostly conical, but there was one bear mound. Then I went to see the Passenger Pigeon Memorial, which I’ll show below because this part of our history is SO important.
I mostly wanted to go to the boat landing because I knew it was going to be completely flooded and boy was it! I couldn’t even see where the landing should be, just some vague areas where there were soggy docks floating. I would love to come back here when the water is down and take a kayak on the canoe trail that goes through the backwater and goes into the actual Mississippi River.
Little Sand Cave and Big Sand Cave
My last stop was going to be a hike. The previous two hikes were just over a mile added together (you can see them on my Runkeeper). This last one, I knew, was going to be a longer hike. I started off on the trail going at a good clip, this was especially easy since the trail was running downhill. After a ways of hiking, I came to a crossroad, one trail lead to the Little Sand Cave loop and another ran straight to Big Sand Cave. I started on Little Sand Cave. I’ll be honest, coming here I was a little worried that I wouldn’t like hiking without another person and without any music or podcasts. I learned, for sure, on this hike that I loved it! It was so wonderful being in nature without any distractions.
I reached Little Sand Cave, which featured a waterfall and a shallow cutout in the sandstone. I thought about exploring the bottom of it, but I decided that I wanted to see what Big Sand Cave looked like more. I continued on the last leg of the loop and went back to the crossroads to see Big Sand Cave. It was another waterfall that had another, larger and deeper cutout into the sandstone behind it. Basically, the creek goes down the waterfall and then curves along the backside of the cave and comes out the other side. It was really cool! I wanted to go down and take a look around, but a family with a bunch of kids was there and I thought I would leave them to it and get back to my car.
I was tired out after a long day in the sun and going back uphill after seeing Little and Big Sand Caves. I took the long drive home at the reasonable speed and stopped at Culver’s to get a celebratory ice cream.
This trip was a test for me to see how I would handle going on a solo adventure. I have to say it was a complete success. It was so freeing leaving my house without having to tell anyone where I was going and show up exactly where I wanted to be. That said, I did let some friends know once I got there, where I was. Even in my newfound freedom, I know that I need to be careful. I feel like I really proved to myself that I don’t need other people to have a good time and I don’t need other people to discover new an interesting things. This realization is going to be further tested when I leave for Washington in six weeks (eek!)
If you’ve been to Wyalusing State Park, please tell me about it! If not, what is your favorite solo adventure? Would you give me any tips you have?