Midwest Living



Minnesota and Wisconsin, and focusing around Lake Pepin. Reaching 2 miles wide in places, it’s the broadest naturally occurring part of the Mississipp­i and also the birthplace of waterskiin­g, invented nearly a century ago.

While some road-trippers book private sailing excursions across Lake Pepin (call Captain Beth at WIMNSAIL for details), and others soar above it with man-made wings (Eagle Hang Gliding has the ticket), I find Anderson’s laidback nature tour to be an excellent intro to the area. He expertly narrates the scenery around us. Silver maples over here. River birch over there. He also points out brilliant cardinal flowers and bald eagles perched high in the treetops. We stop to smell the swamp milkweed, with a scent like vanilla cotton candy, and watch the water dance on hydrophobi­c lily pads. We keep our fingers crossed for a sighting of a prothonota­ry warbler, identifiab­le by its chirpy call and happy yellow coat, but aren’t so lucky. “They’re hard to find anywhere else this far north,” Anderson assures me. “They only like river backwaters and wetlands.”

The ecology is just one reason Anderson is enamored with this swath of river country. The epic landscape is another. “There are towering bluffs 500 feet above the wild Mississipp­i River, and it’s so easy to find peace and

Tracing the twists and turns of the Mississipp­i River, the Great River Road (which officially runs on both sides of the river in most places) draws cyclists and road-trippers alike.

Hover your phone’s camera to watch a video from the Buena Vista Park overlook.

quiet,” he says. “There’s something about the deep forests, the views, the huge river valley—it feels ancient, a little mysterious even. It’s a different kind of beauty out here.”

A beauty in need of protection. The Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance, which Broken Paddle supports, is working hard to combat sediment accumulati­ng in the upper end of Lake Pepin. Threatened by upstream erosion, both the lake and back channels are in danger of disappeari­ng: The silt clouds the waters and destroys natural habitats. Anderson worries that the damage could be irreversib­le if they don’t act immediatel­y. His response? Share his wonderment with as many people as possible.

As we near the close of our tour, Anderson announces a surprise. It’ll take some extra paddling, but he says it’s worth it. We push past a boat of fishermen lazily jigging their rods for smallmouth bass and northern pike, through a swirl of kelly green duckweed, around several tall stands of reeds. And there she is: a lone American lotus rising from the inky black water. She was in full bloom yesterday, Anderson says. Today, just two buttery yellow oval petals cling to her showerhead-like stem. That’s how fast things move around here. The message is clear: Hurry, go now, before it’s gone.



At RUSH RIVER PRODUCE in Maiden Rock, hummingbir­ds dart in the wildflower­s while you pluck currants, tart gooseberri­es and plump blueberrie­s in July and August. Nearby, CULTURAL CLOTH specialize­s in ethically sourced blankets, rugs and other textiles made by indigenous women artists around the world. Start or end your travels on a spiritual note at KINSTONE in Fountain City. The modern megalithic sculpture garden covers 30 acres overlookin­g the Mississipp­i. It features a meditation labyrinth, restored prairie, a dolmen with a 13-ton capstone and a thatched cordwood chapel for quiet contemplat­ion. For all things pastry, hit up country-cute STOCKHOLM PIE AND GENERAL STORE in Stockholm. Have a slice of old-fashioned sour cream raisin or order the daily pot pie special. Browse for souvenirs in the attached shop, STOCKHOME.

Open weekends only, CHEF SHACK is a sweetly rustic restaurant in Bay City. It’s helmed by two-time James Beard Award nominee Lisa Carlson, who specialize­s in seasonal fare. Book a table ahead and count your blessings if she’s serving her famously tender brisket. Homey HARBOR VIEW CAFE

in Pepin has been a favorite in these parts since 1980. A rainbow of Adirondack chairs faces the water outside, and old books line the cozy interior walls. Also in Pepin, clink glasses on a storybook piazza encircled by Italianate-style buildings at VILLA BELLEZZA WINERY, one of the 11 vineyards on the GREAT RIVER ROAD WINE TRAIL.

Two blocks from the Lake Pepin shore, MAIDEN ROCK INN in Maiden Rock ranks among the quirkiest B&BS on the river. The 1906 high school building features restored pressed-tin ceilings, ornate custom woodwork and an artful spiral staircase.

Our destinatio­n has missed making memories with you. When the time is right, we’re ready to welcome you back to our shores. A lot has changed, but we invite you to fall back in love with the sugar-white sand beaches and pristine turquoise waters along the Alabama Gulf Coast by visiting when your family is ready and able. As always, stay safe and stay healthy.


Daydreamin­g of your next road trip? Hit one—or a few—of South Dakota’s 62 national and state parks. The Mount Rushmore State is full of natural treasures like Custer State Park’s bison herds and the waterfalls in Spearfish Canyon. When you’re ready to travel, find your great place in the great outdoors.


Not the scenery you were expecting? Iowa is home to breathtaki­ng terrain just waiting to be explored. Enjoy an elevated trek through one of our magnificen­t state parks or take a deep dive in one of Iowa’s popular lakes. Discover all that Iowa has to offer.


Embrace the texture, rich history and authentici­ty of Saint Charles. Discover the people, unique places and can't–miss experience­s of a city that has been welcoming visitors since 1769.


Here are five great reasons to make North Dakota part of your summer plans. #1 Beautiful Theodore Roosevelt National Park, #2 Historic forts and museums, #3 Family-friendly state parks, #4 Miles of hiking and biking trails, #5 Vibrant cities with excellent dining and lodging. Find more reasons in your free Travel Guide.


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From vibrant cities to the rolling hills of Amish Country, from inventive chefs and a food and drink scene unlike any other, to breathtaki­ng vistas on exhilarati­ng woodland hikes, to hearing waves crash at the shoreline, Ohio’s ten perfect road trips await you and those you care about most! For life’s most important journeys… Ohio. Find It Here. Ohio.org

Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win $2,500 for your very own Ohio Getaway! Midwestliv­ing.com/enjoytheri­de

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