Why Choose Gays Mills
Whether business or pleasure, Gays Mills and the Driftless Area offer options to suit the taste of every visitor. Our great diversity of natural resources, and authentic artisans and organic farmers provide for cultural and heritage activities that are flexible to help you design the perfect traveling experience. From romantic getaways to main street parades and events, our village and surrounding communities can provide talent and resources to create custom services catering to visitors.
For more information on full service partners that can design the perfect destination package including, B&B's, lodges, conference rooms and meeting locations, special events, tours or outings to area attractions, and year round outdoor adventure and sport outfitting complete the contact us form or send e-mail request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gays Mills hosts two annual celebrations commemorating the traditions of the Kickapoo Valley. The Spring Festival takes place on Mother’s Day Weekend in May and the Apple Festival occurs on the final full weekend in September to coincide with the apple harvest. Both events include parades, carnivals, arts & crafts and flea markets as well as a vast array of music, dancing, food & festivities at Robb Park, the Community Building, the Log Cabin Village, the orchards, the Crawford County Fairgrounds (on the south side of Gays Mills) and many other village locations.
Besides the Spring and Fall Festivals, the rivers, streams, and woodlands around Gays Mills offer an extensive choice of year around outdoor activities. Among the most popular are canoeing on the Kickapoo, fishing of all types – including fly fishing and ice fishing – turkey & deer hunting, morel mushroom hunting and strawberry picking, hiking or biking through a county or state park, horseback riding, camping, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling as well as viewing the beautiful fall colors and striking apple blossoms in May.
Paddling & Fishing the Kickapoo
The Kickapoo River has been a favorite among paddling enthusiasts for many years. The word "Kickapoo" is from the Native American Algonquian language meaning "he who goes here, then there." Translated locally as the "crooked river," it certainly lives up to its name, meandering its way along a 125-mile course that covers only 65 miles "as the crow flies." The shallow, gently flowing river is tame enough for the beginner but challenging enough for the advanced paddler as well. It is considered one of the best Class 1 canoe rivers in the Midwest and is one of the most photogenic. The upper stretch of the river from Ontario to La Farge, about 30 miles north of Gays Mills, is the most popular for canoeing.
The river is fed by a number of smaller streams and tributaries, many of which offer excellent trout fishing opportunities. In fact, there are over 200 miles of trout waters within a short drive of Gays Mills. Springs and free-flowing wells contribute to keeping the river cool year round.
Deer, Turkey and Small Game Hunting
With its thriving deer herds, Wisconsin is recognized as one of the premier deer hunting states in the nation, and the Gays Mills area is particularly attractive to both bow and gun hunters.
The wild turkey is truly one of Wisconsin's wildlife management success stories. Since wild turkeys were first successfully reintroduced into Wisconsin in 1976, population levels continue to increase and expand statewide as well as in the Gays Mills area.
Although it is commonly known as "America's Dairyland," Wisconsin could also be called "America's Forestland" as nearly half of the state is forested, and it is now viewed as one of the nation's top destinations for fall color viewing. With its unique topography of hills, valleys and bluffs, the driftless region of Southwestern Wisconsin is particularly attractive.
Sunlight converts sugars that have been trapped in certain leaves into anthrocyanins, reddish or bluish pigments. The more anthrocyanins a leaf has, the deeper its red and purple hues. These brilliant shades are outstanding in Wisconsin maples and sumacs. The crisp yellows of poplar, some beech and most birches, on the other hand, reveal a lack of tannins in the leaves, so the yellow pigments shine through. An abundance of these brownish tannin compounds will cast a yellow-brown color in certain species of oak and beech trees. With the exception of tamarack, Wisconsin's abundant conifer trees remain green during the fall, providing a dramatic counterpoint to the deep reds and oranges and bright yellows so prevalent throughout the forest palette. Willows, alder, elder and some oaks also provide a counterpoint, as their neutral shades add a rich dimension of depth.
Don't expect to hurry in the Kickapoo Valley. Biking is one favorite way to enjoy both the scenery and the peaceful highways and byways. The northern Kickapoo Valley, a short drive north of Gays Mills, encompasses both the Kickapoo Valley Reserve and the Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail, the grandfather of all "rails-to-trails" conversions. There is currently a growing movement to complete a Kickapoo Watershed bike trail that will eventually hook up with this renowned trail.
There are over 25 miles of paved roads in and around the Kickapoo Valley Reserve with a number of connecting roads that expand the tour biking network to over 100 miles in the immediate vicinity. State Highway 131 north of Rockton is one of the most scenic stretches and crosses the Kickapoo River at least five times in a five-mile stretch. There are also 19 miles of designated mountain bike trails on the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. These trails present many of the challenges that serious off-road bikers find appealing — steep uphill climbs, hairpin turns, and rapid descents as you travel through hardwood forests and open meadows with breathtaking overlooks along the way.
The three railroad tunnels on the the Elroy-Sparta State Trail make it one of the most popular trails in Wisconsin. The longest tunnel is over 3/4 of a mile long. Walking through the tunnels is kind of eerie, with the strange sounds and echos and the constant dripping of water.
Gays Mills, WI is located in the Driftless Area of Southwest Wisconsin. Click here to see a map defining the Driftless Area of Wisconsin.
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