There’s nothing like a road trip. You get to explore new places and stumble upon hidden gems, plus have a ton of fun while doing it. Wisconsin offers many incredible locations to add to your road trip. Explore this epic four-day-road-trip through Wisconsin that will make you want to jump in the car tomorrow! (For those of you who want the listed itinerary with minimal details, we’ve got you covered at the bottom).
Start your trip off by heading to the Troll Capital of the World. Mount Horeb is just 2.5 hours from Chicago, 1 hour from Dubuque, 4 hours from the Twin Cities, and 5.5 hours from St. Louis.
This is a great spot to start your road trip. Once you arrive in Mount Horeb, check-in at one of their many lodging options like the GrandStay Hotel & Suites, Sunniva Inn Bed & Breakfast, or the Gonstead Guest Cottage. Once you have checked in, time to explore the Troll Capital of the World. Pick up a copy of the Troll Map from the Welcome Center and start the Troll Stroll! Along the way, you will find shopping, many dining options, and other hidden gems. Plus, stretching your legs after being in the car will feel good too! If you are looking to learn more about the history of the area, The Driftless Historium is a great spot to stop on your stroll.
Cave of the Mounds, a National Natural Landmark, is located less than 10 minutes down the road from Mount Horeb.
Over millions of years ago, deep beneath the ground, the Cave of the Mounds began to form. Tours take you past a varied collection of colorful stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and other crystal formations. Guides will delight you with tales of the history, science, and imagery of the various caverns and passageways you walk through.
The experience doesn’t stop below ground. Above ground, visitors to the Cave will find an array of activities to keep young and old alike entertained. Visit one of the most unique shops around – The Rock Shop contains hundreds of unique minerals, fossils, and gemstones. Fill your pockets with treasure at our Gem Mining Sluice. Break open a geode to see what no other person has. Or wander our rock gardens, perennial gardens, and nature trails.
After exploring above and below ground at the Cave of the Mounds, head towards Governor Dodge State Park in Dodgeville. Consider stopping for lunch at Bob’s Bitchin’ BBQ to fuel up before continuing the adventure.
With 5,000+ acres of hills, bluffs, and valleys, plus two lakes and a waterfall, Governor Dodge is one of the state’s largest parks. Between hiking, swimming, fishing, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing, there is recreation available year-round.
Please note a vehicle admission sticker is required to visit state park system properties. A state trail pass is required on certain trails. Stickers and trail passes can be purchased online, via telephone, or at individual properties per the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Day three is full of another adventure! After a busy day yesterday, we recommend taking a slow morning to relax (maybe soak in the jacuzzi if you are staying at the GrandStay Hotel & Suites, or read a book in the garden at Sunniva Inn Bed & Breakfast, then head to Sunn Cafe for brunch. After brunch, it’s time to hit the road and set out to explore another destination.
Today’s destinations include Devil’s Lake State Park and Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area. Both destinations are about 45 minutes from Mount Horeb and an easy drive. Devil’s Lake is one of Wisconsin’s most popular state parks and for good reason. With beaches, boat rentals, bird watching, rock climbing, and plenty of hiking trails, Devil’s Lake offers a huge variety of recreation options.
Being one of the most popular parks in Wisconsin, some insider tips to enjoying the park are to arrive early in the day (the park opens at 6 am) or to visit on a weekday if possible to avoid traffic. The East Bluff Trail is one of the most popular hikes and has a stunning view of the park. There are plenty of ways to maximize your time in the park if you are only going for a few hours.
After you have finished exploring the park, head to the Merrimac Ferry Landing if you are traveling between April and November and enjoy a Ferry ride across the Wisconsin River (located less than 20 minutes from the park). According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, “the Merrimac Ferry, Wisconsin’s only FREE ferry, takes about seven minutes for a single crossing.” You can board the ferry on foot, bicycle, or in your vehicle.
After crossing the Ferry, Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area is only a 5-minute drive away. If you are unable to utilize the Ferry or prefer not to, it’s only a quick 30-minute drive away from Devil’s Lake State Park.
Gibraltar Rock is a great spot for those looking for less hustle and bustle, and an amazing spot to watch the sunset year-round. Some notes from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources include “A segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail leads to the top of the bluff. An old access lane, though shorter and steeper, also leads to the summit.”
After your third day of adventuring, it’s time to head back to Mount Horeb to wind down for the evening. Consider stopping in Sauk City on your way back to catch dinner at Vintage Brewing Co. overlooking the Wisconsin River.
As your road trip comes to an end and it’s time to pack your bags and head home, make sure to grab a souvenir or two before you head home. The Trollway has plenty of options plus has great breakfast, brunch, lunch, and coffee options for you to fuel up before your drive home.
Say goodbye to the Trolls and maybe grab one last photo op with one of our favorite, the Tree Trunk Troll, to remember your time exploring epic outdoorsy spots in south-central Wisconsin.
What’s stopping you from adventuring in Wisconsin today? The best part about this road trip itinerary is that it can be easily modified to match your timeframe and interests. For other trip inspiration, make sure to visit trollway.com/trip-ideas and share your photos with us using #mounthoreb.