Our Baraboo Hills Scenic Drive suggestion takes you over the highest peaks of the Baraboo bluffs and offers some spectacular vistas along the way. This loop also gives you a few opportunities to get out a hike if you want to spend some time outside the car. You’ll also want to note this drive when looking to enjoy the best of Wisconsin’s Fall colors as well.
To make things easy we start this trip at Circus World Museum in Baraboo and head east out of the city on Highway 113. You’ll follow Hwy 113 right up and over the Baraboo range coming back down on the south side of the hills. (If you have an outside temp display in your car, watch, does the temperature change from the bottom to the top of the bluffs?) Once over and back at the bottom, you’ll see Devil’s Lake State Park to your right. Just past the South Shore Road entrance, there is a parking area where you can get out and enjoy the views. This area is called Steinke Basin and is part of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail as well.
We’ll turn left (East) on County Road DL and drive about a mile before ascending the bluff again on Devil’s Delight road. Devil’s Delight is a short, but vertical switch back, which forces you to climb at a fun, but slow pace. The road will merge and become Kentview Rd at the top. Follow it west to get some wonderful views of Devil’s Lake State Park (Especially late in the season when the leaves are off the trees.). When you reach the junction at Solum Ln., turn left to continue on, or you can turn right to find more parking for the Ice Age Trail and go for a hike.
Solum Lane takes us back to Hwy 113 where we will turn right and backtrack a little bit to find Tower Road. Turn Right on Tower. You’ll quickly come upon a small country church which is now rented out for weddings and special occasions. The best time to hit this spot is in the autumn when the maple trees to the right of the church are in full fall regalia. This is a great photo opportunity.
We’ll continue on Tower Rd for a bit. At one point you’ll see the towers that bring TV, radio & cell services into the Baraboo Valley. This is the highest point on the Baraboo Range. Tower Road will cross the bluffs west to east until changing its name to McLeish Rd. At that point it will descend down to Durward’s Glen. Here’s another chance to get out and hike. There’s some short trails, a historic stone chapel and small picnic area.
Now we’ll follow Durward’s Glen Rd., north until grabbing Luebke Rd. Luebke Rd., again offers some nice scenic views. Keep your eyes to the north were a lone bluff rises to just over 1200 feet. We’ll join county road W for a short while before climbing back up the bluffs on Owen Park Rd. Here you’ll find the forests to be deep and beautiful. Again, a great fall color spot. At the very top of the buff you’ll round a corner and find Owen Park to your right. This small park offers a few picnic benches, a grill and a porta-potty in season, but its main attraction is the view to the south. You are now in the Caledonia township and the views are breath-taking!
It was hard to decide how which route back down the bluff to take from here. You could follow Owen Park Rd., down as we show in the map, or back track and take Messer Rd., down as well. Messer Rd., offers more wonderful vistas and there is a surprising little water fall on private land just off the road that you can just catch from your car. It’s up to you which way to go. Backtracking and taking Messer Rd., adds only a couple of minutes to the loop.
Regardless which way you choose, you’ll soon be back down on Highway 78 and heading west. Highway 78 keeps the Baraboo Range to the north and the Wisconsin river valley to the south. Follow 78 for a bit over a mile before turning right on County Rd., DL. DL will offer one last vista before slipping down past the bottom of Devil’s Head Ski Resort and then past Parfrey’s Glen before taking us back to Hwy 113. Turn right on Hwy 113 to climb back over the bluffs and head back into Baraboo to complete the loop.
There are lots of options and add-ons when taking a scenic drive through this section of the Baraboo Bluffs. I’ve left both Bluff Road and Neuman Road off the list as well as County Road W which traces the north side of the southern range. They’re all worth the drive as well. Still, the route we have chosen will certainly offer you some of the best of what the Baraboo hills have to offer.
View Baraboo Bluff Drive in a larger map