Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Photo of team of horses pulling bobsled © Kickapoo Valley Reserve

Bobsled rides, dog races, snow sculpture and a chili feed are all part of the fun at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Winter Festival.
© Kickapoo Valley Reserve

December 2010

Wisconsin Traveler

Look up, down and around

The season of snow blankets the ground and clears the air. Even as skies darken earlier, reflected light and a base of white help us see more clearly. Take advantage of that opportunity.

Head to Bristol in the countryside far enough west of Kenosha to get away from the city lights. At the Pringle Nature Center, 9800 160th Avenue, they’ll be gazing up on Sunday, December 12 to catch the late night Geminid meteor shower. Astronomers consider this annual celestial show a best bet with up to 60 multicolored meteors an hour streaking the dark heavens on a clear night. This light shower is strongest this year between Dec. 6-19, peaking around the 13th. There's a small fee to join the center naturalist's talk. If the weather looks iffy, call or contact naturalist Valerie Mann just to make sure the program is on: (262) 857-8008.

Learn to read the tale of the winter trail at winter weekend Wolf Ecology Workshops at the UW-Stevens Point's Treehaven Center, W 2540 Pickerel Creek Avenue in Tomahawk. The workshops running 9 a.m. Saturday through noon on Sunday will be offered February 5-6 and repeated February 26-27. The program includes a mix of class study, tracking field practice and a nighttime howling survey. The $146 fee includes three meals, instruction, materials and lodging. Contact Treehaven or call (715) 453-4106.

Have cold weather fun at the Winter Festival at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve on Saturday, January 8, S3661 State Highway 131 in La Farge. The festival based at the visitors center includes snow sculptures, an ice cave hike, horse-drawn bobsled rides and lots of activities like skating, sledding, skiing, archery, face painting and a snow cave demonstration. The Tri-state Malamute Club holds a sled dog race, weight pull and a mutt race. The La Farge Lions Club hosts an annual chili and bread contest. Contact Kickapoo Valley Reserve or call (608) 625-2960 for times and details.

It’s a fire and ice experience on Saturday, January 29 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Mosquito Hill Nature Center, N 3880 Rogers Road in New London. Naturalist Steve Petznick will warm you up to a toasty glow with his Campfire Astronomy talk. Then you'll gaze upwards and practice newfound skills recognizing constellations as you walk this picturesque property near the Wolf River in Outagamie County. There's a $5 fee for adults, $3 for students, seniors and members. Register by January 21. Contact Mary Swifka, (920) 779-6433.

Come back to Mosquito Hill on Saturday, February 26, 10:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., to learn tree care basics like pruning techniques, tree root care and trouble shooting early signs of tree problems before the branches start to bud up, bloom and leaf out. There’s an $18 program fee, $15 for seniors and members. Please register by February 18. Call (920) 779-6433.

Still hopping around for something to do? Take in the Frogs: A Chorus of Colors exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum, 800 West Wells Street that runs through January 2.

The self-guided tour puts you nose-to-nose with 17 species of live frogs where you can learn about their lifestyles and habits. Reserve your tickets for the exhibit and add to your fun by booking seats to see "Bugs!" at the neighboring IMAX. Rates and reservations available at (414) 278-2714.