Register Aug. 21 For Crane Congregation Tours In November and December


To conveniently experience up close the breathtaking spectacle of thousands of sandhill cranes gathering on the Wisconsin River’s sandbars and islands behind Aldo Leopold’s shack and farm, 20 minutes from the Inn at Wawanissee Point, don’t hesitate. For 2018 there are four ways to experience the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s Crane Congregation Tours in November and December at dusk as the cranes come in to roost, but access is limited. Registration begins Aug. 21 and 27, 2018, for members and nonmembers, respectively.

As fall migration begins thousands of sandhill cranes gather on the Wisconsin River along the Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area (IBA). This 16,000-acre IBA is adjacent the Aldo Leopold Center, and Leopold Shack and farm, nine miles northeast of Baraboo, Wis., on Levee Road, which is Rustic Road 49.

The river here is a premier viewing location in the region for this migration staging when cranes refuel for several weeks before flying south. From the Inn at Wawanissee Point bed and breakfast it’s a picturesque 20-minute drive through the Baraboo Hills' Lower Narrows.

  • Beginning in the mid 1930s when Aldo Leopold worked the farm and lived at the shack, now a National Historic Landmark, sandhill cranes were diminishing to the extent he feared their extinction. Come see the successful resurgence and learn why it has occurred.
  • The week of Aug. 19, 2018 small groups of cranes began arriving!

Four Viewing Opportunities For 2018

  • Expert Tour 3.5 hours: with world-renowned ornithologist Stan Temple, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor emeritus of conservation (a position Aldo Leopold once held) and Leopold Foundation senior fellow. Begins with a cheese-and-wine reception and presentation by Temple, then he guides the viewing interpreting it and the landscape, $75.00, which includes a Foundation membership. Seven tours each limited to 25 people.
  • Basic Tour 1.5 hours: a condensed weeknight with Leopold education and land stewardship fellows, $35.00.
  • Photography Blind: reserve an individual, portable blind that Foundation staff place before you arrive for optimal, up-close viewing not feasible in groups, based on availability, $150.00.
  • NEW Roost Overnight Tour: private immersion tour for individuals, couples or groups up to six people, with dusk and dawn viewing opportunities. Includes a stay in the newly constructed Future Leaders Center and two meals. $250.00.

Reservations are required for all. Tours sell out quickly.

Proceeds support conservation work at the Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area.

Viewing Dates

Nov. 15, 16, 30, Dec. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, and 15, 2018, with Stan Temple

Nov. 27 & 28, Dec. 4 & 5, 2018, with Leopold staff, no reception

Reserve Your Spot Online at or by contacting Maria Kopecky at or 608-355-0279 ext. 38.


What To Expect

Begin at the Aldo Leopold Center. Travel in your vehicle a mile to a meeting place in the Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area just west of the Leopold Shack and farm. Ride in an open wagon to the new wind-sheltered viewing blind with ample space for modest-sized groups to observe. Once cranes have roosted just after sunset, return to your vehicles. Dress warmly. Bring binoculars and your camera.

  • Optional for the 3-hour public tour, arrive 1.5 hours early for a complimentary and out-of-season tour of the Leopold Shack and farm.
  • Optional for the weeknight tour bring snacks and a water bottle.

Visit for additional details.

Read an article by Stan Temple about the sandhill cranes’ local history and why they are now thriving in south-central Wisconsin here.

Book your guest room HERE or call us at 608-355-9899.


Spend A Day Birding Around Leopold Center

Bird migration peaks the first two weeks of November. Though much of Leopold-Pine Island IBA land is privately owned, you’ll find excellent birding along 11 miles of Rustic Road 49 and some public land to explore.

  • As many as 40 migrating species have been surveyed here.

Also hike and bird along the Foundation’s 2.5-mile upland interpretive trail network through 305 acres of oak savanna, wetlands and a dry prairie remnant overlooking the River, critical habitat for grassland birds and sandhill crane staging. The trail is open year-round for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing during the Center’s visitation hours:

  • Mid April–October: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
  • November–early April: Monday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

The last day to enjoy a guided tour of the Leopold Shack is Oct. 28. Self-guided tours of the Shack and through the Center’s exhibits about Leopold, conservation and the Center, one of the greenest buildings in the world, continue and the trails remain open during winter visitation hours.

Tips For November Birding And Hiking

There’s no such thing as bad weather only improper clothing! See our tips here to enjoy birding and hiking the Baraboo Hills in November and early December.

Enjoy These Coinciding Events

Nov. 5–6: Taurids Meteor Shower Peaks, runs Sept. 7–Dec. 10. The thin crescent moon sets early in the evening leaving a dark sky for good viewing! The Taurids are well known for having many fireballs, exceptionally bright meteors. Snuggle on the Tepee room's deck or at the prairie terrace by the fire.

Nov. 15:  Wollersheim Ruby Nouveau Release

Nov. 17–18: Leonids Meteor shower peaks, runs Nov. 6–30. Snuggle on the Tepee room's deck or at the prairie terrace by the fire.

Nov. 17:  Downtown Baraboo’s Christmas Light Parade 6:00 p.m.

Dec. 1: Sauk Prairie’s Holiday Light Parade, tree lighting and fireworks extravaganza 7:00 p.m.

Dec. 7–8: Baraboo’s The Very Merry Holiday Fair

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