Recreation Outdoors

Taking the Scenic Route: 5 Local Drives to Remember

you don’t have to travel far for amazing summer scenery

Hannah Bryson |

TAKING THE LONG VIEW. Old Man River as viewed from Buena Vista Park in Alma (Photo by Ty Night | CC BY 2.0)
TAKING THE LONG VIEW. Old Man River as viewed from Buena Vista Park in Alma.  (Photo by Ty Nigh | CC BY 2.0)

After being cooped up all winter, the human’s first instinct is to roam. Fortunately for Chippewa Valley residents, beauty and adventure are only a short cruise away. If you want a vacation but only have 45 minutes to an hour in between work and letting your dog out, these serene drives will help you forget about that email you opened, read, created a draft for but forgot to send and remind you why it’s so beautiful to be alive. 


Immerse yourself in the beautiful hills of the Driftless Area on a drive from County Highway F (a.k.a. West Lowes Creek Road) to W to WW. Enjoy the many ups and downs as you pass by the iconic red barn of this region. At the end of this route you’ll find the Eleva Lookout. With a view overlooking the valley, you can see gorgeous Wisconsin landscapes for miles.


Trying to find a summer oasis? Check out this hidden gem. Take Highway 37 to Highway 85 to County Highway O into Meridean where you can drive right down to the Chippewa River and park at the end of this little dead end road (730th Street). There is a shelter there, and when the river’s low you can wade in and island hop – a relaxing and fun way to cool off on a hot day. Whether you’re from Chippewa Falls, Bloomer, or Eau Claire this is a short but very sweet ride.


This next drive is sort of a build-your-own: Take any county roads that will get you to Eau Galle Cheese, located southwest of Eau Claire near Durand. Eau Galle Cheese (N6765 State Highway 25, Durand) is a quaint little shop for tasting some of Wisconsin’s finest, nestled on the outskirts of rolling hills. Doubling as an ice cream parlor, it’s a lovely place to grab yourself a double scoop and enjoy the fresh air and vast country scenery on the picnic benches outside the shop. This drive is the perfect length for listening to some favorite albums or taking the kids out for an adventure. Be sure to head on back a different way than you came.


Instead of heading back home from Eau Galle Cheese, why not make a day of this drive and travel along the Ol’ Miss? Head to Durand and hop on County Road P then N (off N there is a beautiful pit stop at Holden Campground on Silver Birch Lake where you can get out and stretch your legs). You’ll follow the Chippewa River to Pepin, and from there take The Great River Road all the way to Buena Vista Park in Alma located on top of the bluffs. Your journey will culminate in a 180-degree view of the Mississippi River from atop a 500-foot bluff. After this breathtaking stop and event-filled day, Highway 37 offers a quick way home (estimated trip time is 3 hours). In my humble opinion this is one of the best day trips around.


Another river ride, a little closer to home, takes Highway 178 north along the Chippewa River. The highway starts in Chippewa Falls and twists and turns as it hugs the river until it ends in Cornell. Life on the river is seen up close and personal on this trip, so enjoy yourself and roll down the windows. If you want to shorten the drive you can always cross the river in Jim Falls and take County Highway S back.