For those people from Chicago (or anywhere in the bustling cities of the Midwest) looking for an escape from the chaos of the city, a trip up to Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, should be on your to-do list. It’s about a six-hour drive to Boulder Junction from Chicago. Boulder Junction can be found in central Vilas County and encompasses the basin of the Trout and Manitowish Rivers, which flow into the Flambeau River. The town and surrounding areas are covered by the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Boulder Junction in both winter and summer, and the area is absolutely beautiful. Fantastic trees such as Aspen, Red and White Pines, Yellow Birches and Sugar Maples can be found in the area. It’s amazing how the scenery changes on the drive up from the busy Chicago suburbs. Visitors will find themselves lost in a landscape that looks like something out of a storybook fairytale.
What to expect
It’s estimated that under 1,000 people live in the tourist town year-round. The town itself is pretty small but quaint and fun, with a variety of souvenir shops, a small selection of restaurants and hotels, and even a winery.
Outside the town, it’s a nature’s lover’s paradise. People who don’t enjoy bugs, camping, or playing in the woods may not have much fun here. But those who enjoy fishing, hiking, and exploring won’t be disappointed.
In the cold winter months visitors can rent snow mobiles and jet through moonlight pathways beneath the treetops. Cross-country skiing and skiing also are popular activities, as is ice-fishing.
Or, if you’re feeling romantic, rent a room and escape from the winter elements in a cozy retreat while watching the winter world swirl around wildly outside.
During the summer, there are numerous campgrounds around the Boulder Junction area to appease all sorts of campers. There are dog-friendly and family-friendly campgrounds, as well as campgrounds for people who seek a more remote location and escape from the crowds.
What Boulder Junction is most known for
Boulder Junction is probably most known for its fishing. The area has been called the “Musky Capital of the World.” There are 194 lakes throughout the area and fishing is good. Common fish roaming beneath lake surfaces include northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill, perch, and crappie. I myself enjoyed catching a few largemouth bass on a recent trip, as well as something large and mysterious that broke my line and got away.
The Northwoods are thriving with plant and animal life. Though black bear sightings are not common around the Boulder Junction area, the animals also are not unheard of. Visitors will most likely see deer and loons during a summer stay, as well as hordes of insects! Be prepared with citronella candles and a good supply of bug spray to combat the pests and make the most of your vacation.
Want to learn more about the Northwoods and Boulder Junction? Check out the Boulder Junction tourism website for more information.