Seeing the Sites: Summer Travel Close to Home

As the July heat and humidity builds, my mind wanders to good wandering places, including natural historical sites close to home.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing like a cross-country adventure, but if I drive 700 miles to a family gathering, and cannot converse on the state parks and historical attractions near my adopted home in southern Wisconsin, then what kind of a traveler—or Wisconsin resident for that matter—am I?

You know what I mean. You drive a full day to a family reunion, only to have someone there tell you how they loved a historical attraction minutes from your home, an attraction you’ve never seen—a conversation stopper to be sure.

Effigy Mounds National Monument, IA, US.

Effigy Mounds National Monument, IA, US.

Case in point: Wisconsin has one of the highest numbers of Native American Indian burial mounds in the US. In case it’s on your way to Wisconsin, our neighbor to the west, Iowa, is home of Effigy Mounds National Monument, part of the National Park Service!

Let’s start with ancient effigy mounds close to home; Here in Madison, Wisconsin, there are mounds on the University of Wisconsin campus, both on Observatory Drive and closer to the Picnic Point path. The web site for the Lakeshore Nature Preserve along Lake Mendota provides some fascinating detail and historical accounts of some of these ancient burial sites, attributed to the Woodland Indians.

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