Everyone knows that Wisconsin Dells is known for one thing, water slides. Beyond the water slides one will find a plethora of mini golf courses, fudge shops, and restaurants. The dells is Wisconsin’s version of Las Vegas. If you thirst for adventure, pull yourself away from the strip and head on out into the wilderness. Take a side road a long the river and find yourself in the heart of Witches Gulch. A place that not many tourists dare tread. $5 gets you on the trail and you will not be disappointed.
According to Native American legend it was a great serpent, wriggling down from his home near the Big Lake, that formed the bed of the Wisconsin River. Crawling over the forests and the fields, his huge body wore an immense groove into the land and the water rushed in behind him. When he came to the sandstone ridge where the Dells begins he thrust his great head into a crevice between the rocks and pushed them aside to form a narrow, winding passage. At his approach, lesser serpents fled forming the canyons which lead off from the main channel. It was these timid, lesser serpents that formed Coldwater Canyon and Witches’ Gulch, so the legend goes.
The true story is just as exciting. When the great glacial lake of Wisconsin started to break free from its large ice dam the waters rushed free in a catastrophic flood and carved out the great rock formations we see today. It is hypothesized that the noise of the rushing water would have been heard up to six states away.
My mom and I almost missed the entrance to the Gulch. There are now big glitzy signs pointing to it, just a hand painted sign on an old iron gate marks the spot. A dirt road takes you deep into the woods, a stream is to your left, and soon you are in a narrow parking lot. There is a concession stand/gift shop at the edge of the lot, plop down your $5 and you are granted passage. I loved every minute of the Gulch, my head turning round and round in an attempt to take it all in. I stopped looking at the gulch through my iPhone camera lens and sucked in the beauty that is Wisconsin.
Witch’s Gulch is magic, pure natural magic. As you progress through the gulch you are greeted by the sound of rushing water. You soon realize that water is running beneath your feet and dumps into what they call “the witch’s bathtub.” The gulch leads you out to the Wisconsin River and of course as we were making our way through a noisy group of tourists arrived on one of the many sight seeing boats. My Mama and I didn’t let them spoil our fun, we slowly made our way pointing and looking at the beauty that was around us.