In last week's travel post I shared that we went to the Wisconsin Dells for the weekend (we actually went two weekends in a row we loved it so much!). On Saturday we hiked in Devil's Lake State Park, and then that evening we enjoyed strolling in downtown Wisconsin Dells. The next morning, we took a Wisconsin Dells Upper Boat Tour.
Even though it might be chilly, fall is the perfect time to take an Upper Dells Boat Tour because the foliage is so beautiful! Just be sure to dress nice and warm, as it is chilly when that boat moves on the water.
On the day we took our tour, it was cold (42 degrees) and cloudy and we were FREEZING because the weather app did not predict these cold temperatures so we were not prepared for it. But we huddled close to stay warm, and we couldn't help to enjoy ourselves because the views were so breath-taking.
Can you see why we thought the views were breath-taking? Just look at the color! The dells formation with the colorful foliage on top makes it so much more beautiful than if you took a boat tour in summer and all you saw was green.
So now you're probably wondering "What are Dells?" They are glacier-carved sandstone formations. They surround the Wisconsin River. Their layered appearance is just so interesting.
There are two boat tours in the Wisconsin Dells: an upper dells boat tour and a lower dells boat tour. The upper dells boat tour is twice and long as the lower dells tour and it includes two stops: Witches Gulch and Stand Rock. A dam separates the upper and lower dells.
I believe the large rock formation is called "High Rock".
Now, the number one reason I wanted to take this boat tour was to see Witches Gulch. You see, a year earlier we took the family to the Dells for a weekend fall getaway. On our hotel's wall were vintage photos of this amazing place called "Witches Gulch". I wanted to see it so badly so I googled it to try and find it. To my dismay, I discovered that the area was not open to the public and the only way to see it was to take an Upper Dells Boat Tour. I made a mental note to come back again next year and take a tour.
Witches Gulch is a beautiful slot canyon. PLEASE watch one of the videos at the end of this post to get a feel for this amazing place. You walk through the canyon on a wooden boardwalk. Below the bridge is moving water and a hidden whirlpool chamber. The walls of the canyon surround you and seem to tower above as well. Beautiful green moss covers all the canyon walls.
There are many superstitions surrounding this place, hence the title "Witches Gulch". According to Native American legend a great serpent, wriggled down from the north and his home near the Big Lake, forming the bed of the Wisconsin River. Witches Gulch and Coldwater Canyon were formed by more timid, lesser serpents.
Other tales came from the early raftsmen (if you listen to the videotape on the boat tour below, you will hear our tour guide discuss the early raftsmen and what the river was like before they built a dam and separated the river into the upper and lower dells) who believed that a point in the river known as "Devil's Elbow" was an evil point that had no bottom to the water and was a portal to hell.
I always find it interesting that any beauty of nature is always giving the glory to Satan, instead of to God the creator. No matter where we travel, some beautiful, scenic area is always described "Devils....something".
When you reach the end of "Witches Gulch" there is a concession stand and restrooms. Some might not appreciate the commercialism, but I for one was happy to use the potty and get a cup of hot chocolate to warm my bones.
We had twenty minutes to explore the gulch and visit the restrooms and concession stand. At first, I thought it wouldn't be enough time, but is was enough. We all got back on the boat for our next stop Stand Rock.
Stand Rock is famous for this photograph. You see this famous photograph everywhere you go in the Dells. The photo was taken by photographer H.H. Bennett in 1886. He specialized in landscape photography and his photos of the dells turned the Wisconsin Dells into the major tourist attraction it is today. The photo below is significant because it was Bennett who created a new shutter to allow photographers to take pictures of moving objects. However Bennett's son Ashley still had to make the jump 18 times to get the shot Bennett wanted.
Many people have made the jump between these two rocks over the years. Now, the only one who jumps it is a trained dog. Watching the dog jump the rocks is included in the Upper Dells Boat Tour and you can see it for yourself in one of the videos at the end of this post. And don't worry about the dog. Today there is a safety net underneath the rocks.
To our surprise, after we watched the Dog Jump show the fun wasn't over yet for on the way back to the boat there were even more interesting rock formations with a lot of history to them.
The first one is called "Toadstool Rock", can you guess why?
There is a second concession stand/restrooms in this area but it was closed for the season. On the building of this stand was a large sign explaining the photography of H.H. Bennet and some of the famous rock formations we were now looking at ourselves.
This is "Luncheon Hall". It is this beautiful rock "window" overlooking the Wisconsin River. It's just stunning in person.
And if you caught Monday's Fashion Post, you would have seen this picture. I am standing beneath Visor Ledge...another rock formation H.H. Bennet made famous.
Well, after our last stop at Stand Rock it was time to get back onto the boat and enjoy the trip back. We were the first tour boat out on the water so it was very peaceful. We saw an eagle perched in a tree and lots of kayakers and fishermen.
We really loved our boat tour and wondered why we waited so long to take one. It is surprisingly very inexpensive for all you get on the tour, costing a mere $32.00 for an adult ticket. They also have ghost tours which are taken after dark (I kept wondering how much you could possibly see in the dark, although I did see lights on the side of the river so I think they must light it up nicely), summer sunset dinner cruises, jet boat tours, and the famous "Wisconsin Ducks". I hope to be able to take another tour next year, we still need to see the lower dells!
In the meantime, enjoy the videos we took. They are all super short. I know I will never watch a video that is too long, so I keep them short on purpose.
Dog Jump At Stand Rock
(Guide explains how the early raftsman made it through the waters)
The next three videos show different sections of Witches Gulch!
Have A Great Day! Amy
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