The unglaciated region of western Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa, northwestern Illinois, and southeastern Minnesota is a natural and beautifully sculpted landscape that is known as the Driftless Area. The area is considered “Driftless” because it was not shaped by the movement of glaciers thousands of years ago. A part of the attraction to the region is the forested hillsides that extend into deeply carved river valleys that cut into limestone bedrocks. A key feature that makes the Driftless Area a unique place is the Baraboo Range, comprising of a collection of monadnocks- huge masses of rock rising up out of the middle of a plateau. The Driftless Area is a strange combination of plateau, deep river gorges, sinkholes, bluffs, and monadnocks.
The Driftless Area covers about 20,000 square miles, which primarily extends into western Wisconsin-roughly 85 percent. The landscape has plenty of caves, notably Viroqua City Cave and Cave of the Mounds, and the most rugged part of Driftless Wisconsin is the Ocooch Mountains. In southeastern Minnesota the Driftless Area begins at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. This region is defined by vegetation of mixed woodland, goat prairies, and old plateau covered by loess. The Minnesota River cuts across the Driftless Area. In Driftless Iowa the landscape is of forested valleys, streams, rivers, and majestic limestone bluffs. In Illinois, rolling hills and wooded ridges, and features such canyons, ravines, bluffs, and palisades makes up its portion of the Driftless Area.
The Driftless Area’s forests, prairies, wetlands, and grasslands provides ideal habitat for wildflowers and wildlife. Farming continues to be an activity that thrives in the Driftless Area. Unique soil conditions and higher elevations are ideal for growing particular crops. Amish farmers have long situated themselves in the region, but a new breed of organic farmers has emerged in Driftless. Wisconsin in particular, has expanded into a hotbed of organic farming. The Driftless Region is also ripe for fishing for a variety of trout including brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout. Whitetail deer and wild turkey, ring-necked pheasant, along with other games such as ducks and geese, grouse, quail, mourning dove, rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, fox, and coyote can all be hunted in specific portions of the Driftless Area.
Lisa Middleton’s provides a detailed mapping of the region, and depicts particular features that partly shape the region. The Driftless Region is simply a beautiful and diverse landscape that is like no other.
All sizes are approximate.
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