Barron County Attractions
Located in northwestern Wisconsin, Barron County is part of Wisconsin's great "Northwoods", an area of unparalleled lakes with forests, farms and fields, towns and villages about. The scenery provided by nature is a delight in all seasons with spring-fed, crystal-clear bodies of water ranging in size from a few to more than 3000 acres tucked in among rocky shores and tree-covered rolling hills.
Formed by millions of years ago by glaciers of the great Ice Age, the land of Barron County is unique, with conifer and rare hardwood forests, spruce and tamarack bogs, free-flowing rivers, rolling farmland and jack pine barrens. The woods are full of berries and wildflowers and animals large and small. Muskrats and beavers, nesting mallards, wood ducks teal, loon and other waterfowl are regular residents. This is the natural habitat of the great blue heron, the pileated woodpecker, the red-shouldered hawk loggerhead shrike, osprey and bald eagle.
This is a floaters, boaters and fishing enthusiast's paradise. Two area lakes have been officially recognized by the State of Wisconsin for the fishing they provide: Long Lake is the state's "Walleye Capital" and Birchwood is the "Bluegill Capital of Wisconsin."
In addition to great fishing, boating, canoeing, sailing and swimming, Barron County offers a Golf Digest "Four Star Course" and ten more courses, one sure to suit any golfer's taste, hundreds of miles of hiking, cycling, horseback riding, cross country skiing and snowmobile trails through spectacular scenic forests and hills, primitive backpacking and full-service RV campsites, picnic sites, nature trails, go-cart tracks, waterslides, a skateboard park and two prime downhill skiing areas.
Barron County communities host a variety of special family fun events throughout the year, including Chetek's Summer-long big prize fishing contest "Fish-o-rama" and Fourth of July weekend "Liberty Festival", Rice Lake's five-day "Aquafest", Cumberland's August "Rutabaga Festival" and February "Wintertime Festival" with ice-fishing contest and ski race, Almena's "Fun Days" tractor and truck pull, "Haugen Fun Days" in August, and more.
The arts are also alive and well represented in Barron County, in old-fashioned outdoor band concerts in Rice Lake's City Park, the Hardscrabble Players productions and regional art exhibits at the Red Barn Theater, entertainment at the Czeska Opera House in Haugen, the ancient gardeners art in the Japanese Garden at the UW-Barron Campus, the Red Cedar Symphony Orchestra and Communiversity Band performances throughout the year.
Area history is well preserved in ancient burial mounds preserved in Rice Lake's Indian Mounds Park, the Barron county Historical Society's Pioneer Village Museum in Cameron, the Great Lakes Forestry Museum and the Calhoun Memorial Museum in Chetek.
Barron county offers lodging accommodations to suit every visitor's needs from family housekeeping cottages, luxurious lakeside lodges and historic bed and breakfast inns to pack-in primitive forest campsites.
Museums and Historical Sites
Pioneer Village Museum
Museum Rd., Cameron
Stroll through the history of Barron County at the Barron County Historical Society's Pioneer Village Museum. The village features 21 buildings constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that capture the spirit of their time, including a dentist's office (1883), the Meeting House (1877), Town Hall (1876), Doctor's Office with early medical instruments, Soo Line Depot, General Store, the Hedin Home (1890), Dallas Jail (1903), Joliet School (1905) Blacksmith Shop, Log Drive Camp Kitchen and more. Open Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday 1:00 - 5:00 p.m., June through Labor Day.
Calhoun Memorial Museum
321 Moore St., Chetek
Visitors to this museum will find a large collection of antiques and historical items from the Chetek area. Open Wednesday and Friday 1:00 - 5:00 p.m., June through Labor Day.
Lakeshore Drive, Rice Lake
This old Indian trading route is remembered by a historical marker on the shore of Rice Lake overlooking the old rice beds. Pipestone and wild rice from Rice Lake were traded to other settlements. Northwest of the marker are pits which were likely used to store the wild rice harvest.
Indian Mounds Park
Lakeshore Drive, Rice Lake
This park preserves 12 Indian Burial Mounds, all that remain of some 67 mounds constructed in the Rice Lake area. Archeological excavation revealed burial bundles, some ornaments and implements. The mounds are believed to have been constructed by a branch of the Dakota Sioux.
Parks and Nature Centers
Barron Blue Hills
Cty. Hwy. C, Rice Lake
Motorists, hikers, cyclists and snowmobilers enjoy the summer green, autumn gold, and winter white of these hills. Once a majestic mountain range towering more than 20,000 feet, carved down by successive ice age glaciers that rounded off the peaks, these hills are older than the Rocky Mountains. The last glacier stopped at the foot of these hills.
Christie Mountain Ski Area
Cty. Hwy. O, Rice Lake
Eighteen miles east of Rice Lake, high in the Blue Hills snowbelt, Christie Mountain is a family-oriented downhill ski area with ten trails up to 4000 ft. with a 350 vertical drop, a double chair lift T-bar and two rope tows.
Cty. Hwy. C, Rice Lake
Five miles east of Rice Lake, Mt. Hardscrabble features 11 miles of cross-country trails, five downhill runs, a chair lift, two T-bars and a rope tow.
Tuscobia State Trail
Cty. Hwy. SS, Rice Lake
Beginning just north of Rice Lake, the 76-mile Tuscobia-Park Falls State Trail is the longest state trail in Wisconsin. This multi-use railroad grade trail offers spectacular scenic views appreciated by hikers, cyclists, horseback riders and snowmobilers. It is well marked with constant grooming and maintenance. Part of the trail, from its western end to Angus is also part of the 1000-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Wild Rivers Trail
North City Limits, Rice Lake
Beginning at the Rice Lake City Limits, this multi-use, groomed snowmobile trail runs 97 miles north to Superior and intersects with the Tuscobia State Trail leading 74 miles east to Park Falls, Wisconsin.
Veterans Memorial County Park
12 1/2 Avenue, Cameron
On the west shore of Prairie Lake, 1 mile south of Cameron on Hwy. SS and 1 mile east on 12-1/2 Avenue, this park features 160 acres of land and water, tent and trailer campsites, picnic tables, fireplaces, boat ramp and landing area, fire rings, pit toilets, playground, drinking water, hiking trails, exceptional scenery and wildlife, and great fishing.
Kirby Lake Primitive Park
4th St., Cumberland
This 80-acre woodland tract on the shores of Kirby Lake offers walk-in tent camping sites with tables and fire rings, pit toilets and boat ramp.
Red Cedar River
Fish, float, swim or canoe the Red Cedar River from Chetek, 60 miles south to the Chippewa River below Menomonie. The upper 20 miles are relatively shallow and wide with brisk current and lots of islands; an ideal float trip for novices and families. The lower 125 miles parallels the Red Cedar State Bike Trail. Fishing is good all along the river. Access is available at numerous county parks and canoe rentals are offered at many towns along the river.
Special Things To Do
Downtown, Rice Lake
Enjoy farm fresh produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, jams, jellies, preserves, syrups, and more. In season, gardeners will find a variety of bedding plants, annuals and perennials. Non-gardeners will find fresh cut flowers and vegetables. Amidst the food, fun and flowers market-goers may also find unusual art and craft items, music and street performers. Saturday mornings, June through September.
The City of Rice Lake
During the third week in June the City of Rice Lake celebrates the return of Summer and the joy of living in this spectacularly beautiful area. Aquafest features fun-filled events designed for the entire family; several days of national bands, food, fun, softball tournaments, a golf tournament, a parade, kiddie parade, kids games and a carnival, topped off by a festival of the arts featuring crafts and artworks of outstanding Wisconsin artists.
Chain of Lakes, Chetek
From early May through mid-October, anglers by the thousands try their luck at catching one of more than 400 prize fish marked with $25, $50, $100 and $500 tags released in the waters of the Big Six Chain of Lakes. In 1999, 216 patient, intrepid, and lucky individuals reeled in winners, including 17 worth $500 each. Enjoy Fish-o-rama, where every cast holds the possibility of catching a "big buck" worth $500 fish.
Celebrate liberty at Chetek's annual Fourth of July extravaganza; five days of music, parades, food, slow pitch and horseshoe pitching tournaments, antique stock and modified car show, water ski shows, airplane rides, a "Fishy Four-mile" run/walk, street dancing, and giant fireworks display.
Municipal Band Concerts
City Park, Rice Lake
Tap your feet and lift your spirits with an old-fashioned Summer Band concert in Rice Lake's City Park. Bring the family, spread a blanket, set-up your folding chairs and listen to the stirring sounds of music from the past and present under the stars. The band strikes up every Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. and mid-June through mid-August.
Hydroflites Water Ski Shows
Lakeview Drive, Chetek
Thrill to the skill and antics of the fifty-member Hydroflites water ski team as they skim, fly, jump and ride the wakes of their fleet of powerful ski boats on the waters of Lake Chetek. Performances take place one mile east of downtown Chetek on Lakeview Drive starting at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays and Sundays throughout the Summer.
Points of Interest
Japanese Friendship Garden
UW-Barron County Campus, Rice Lake
Discover the tranquil beauty of this Japanese garden. Designed by a master of the ancient gardener's art from Rice Lake's sister city Miharu, Japan, the garden features plants native to Japan that thrive in Wisconsin's northwoods environment. From the garden gate, stepping stones lead to a meditation bench with a view of a miniature mountain range and waterfall flowing into a pond. True to the Japanese art form, the garden focuses on the character and placement of the many distinctive rocks used in its design.
Czeska Opera House
Enjoy live musical and stage productions in this historic theater, restored to commemorate the Czech heritage of the people of Haugen. Call for performance dates.
Northern Star Theatre
104 S. Main St., Rice Lake, WI
The Northern Star Theatre Company is a 100% volunteer, non-profit community theatre. Volunteers share a vision of creating productions designed to entertain and enrich audiences of all ages through their collaborative efforts. Northern Star Center for the Arts is located in beautiful downtown Rice Lake. The center is committed to the continued development of the cultural arts within the community. Visit our website at www.northernstartheatre.org to see our performance schedule.
Red Barn Theatre
Hwy. 48 & County Hwy. M, Rice Lake
For a taste of community theatre at its best in a truly unique setting, take in a performance by the Hardscrabble Players, a 30 year-old Summer Stock Company recognized nationwide for its excellent productions. After beginning on a make-do stage platform in Cap Hagen's Hardscrabble Ski Chalet, in 1967 the company took up residence in the Red Barn Theater. Located north of Rice Lake near the intersection of state highway 48 and County Highway M, the Red Barn Theater intersection of state highway 48 and County Highway M, the Red Barn Theater also displays the works of area artists in The Gallery during each production.
Valkyrie Brewery Tours
Valkyrie Brewing Company, Dallas
Tour this local enterprise and enjoy samples of this Barron County Brew on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m.
Twin Valley Bison and Quarter Horses
Hwy. F, Prairie Farm
Stop by Twin Valley Farms and see more than the typical farm of 2000. Call for tour availability.