A view of the eastern end of the Baraboo Range looking from the Lower Narrows southwest toward Baraboo.
Photo courtesy of the Baraboo Range Preservation Association.
Wawanissee, pronounced wah-wah-NEE-see.
A National Treasure: The Baraboo Bluffs
Wawanissee Point is nestled in the east range of the nationally renowned Baraboo Range of Sauk and Columbia counties in south-central Wisconsin. Commonly called the Baraboo Bluffs or Baraboo Hills, the Range covers some 144,000 acres that support 55,000 acres of hardwood forests, the largest tract of its kind remaining in the upper Midwest.
The Range is all that remains from the Ice Age, one of the most ancient rock outcrops in North America. It is an oval-shaped, quartzite bedrock formation covered with trees amid the agriculturally dominated, southern Wisconsin landscape. Millions of years ago glaciers covered most of southern Wisconsin and their retreat gave us Wawanissee Point and many other highlights of the Range, one of the most naturally spectacular sites in the Midwest.
Because of its unique geological history and impressive plant and animal diversity, the National Park Service in 1974 designated part of the Baraboo Range as a Natural National Landmark. The Nature Conservancy, 21 years later, designated the Baraboo Range as one of its Last Great Places, one of only 77 in the world.
Explore A Rich Ecosystem
The Range has many different microclimates from warm and sunny hilltops to cool, moist gorges such as Parfrey's Glen. The eco-region is home to more than 18,000 species of plants and animals, including numerous rare species and 135 species of breeding birds. Only four miles west of Wawanissee Point is the crown jewel of the bluffs, Devil's Lake State Park, where the preglacial Wisconsin River cut through the bluffs leaving spectacular, 500-foot quartzite cliffs, a crystal-blue lake and a Mecca for experienced rock climbers.
Wawanissee Point's location, natural beauty and authenticity are noted in a 1920 publication of geology, Native American legend and local history written by H. E. Cole of Baraboo, Wis.
"Continuing on the main road less than a half-mile, Wawanissee Point is
reached and the prospect from this roof of the region is impressive.
Lake Wisconsin may be seen in the hazy distance, the village of
Merrimack being hidden on the right. With a glass the capital dome at
Madison, 283 feet high, the highest but one in the United States and
the highest but three in the world, nearly thirty miles away.
May be seen almost due south on the horizon.
"Stepping into the wooded pasture and ascending a knoll, a wondrous view
is enjoyed. The checkered farms, the shimmering lake and the distant
hills combine in making one of the most charming pictures of the region.
Wawanissee is an Indian word which means beauty or beautiful.
On a summer evening there is presented an ever changing picture
of fading clouds and deepening twilight, numberless hues
appearing as darkness fall."
See Cole's book and framed excerpt pages in our great room.