Outdoors & Nature

Birds eating corn

Barn Quilts Grab your camera. Bring your binoculars. Take a leisurely drive throughout Lafayette County and enjoy spectacular views, with small towns nestled in valleys and winding tree-lined country roads that will weave you along rivers and beside wooded hillsides and farmsteads. You’re likely to see cows dotting the fields, a sure sign that you’re in Wisconsin. Check out 65+ barn quilts featured on barns along the country roads – you can get a map showing locations here or stop by the courthouse for a copy.

Birding Lafayette County is a great place to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of our feathered friends. Many people know that camping, hiking and hunting are big business. Many may not know that birds, bird watching and items related to birds are also big business. In fact, according to the “Market Analysis of Bird-Based Tourism,” $41 billion dollars is spent annually on birding in the U.S. Darlington has been previously designated as a “Bird City” in Wisconsin. Make a stop at The Bluebird Nest Nature Center in Darlington. The Center features interactive interpretive displays relaxing to the Eastern Bluebird and other cavity-nesting birds, along with information about threatened and endangered species and the general fauna and flora in the driftless area. New to the area are the bird statues depicting native birds of Wisconsin. These statues, created by David Oswald of Sparta, WI, can be found in communities across Lafayette County and were made possible by donations from individuals and businesses; you can find eagles, blue herons, bluebirds, cardinals and more! If you would like to make a donation for a bird statue, you can stop by The Bluebird Nest Nature Center which is open Wednesday through Saturday from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Fishing For information on Fishing, visit our Rivers, Lakes and Waters Page

Rustic Roads Enjoy a scenic 7.5 mile drive along Rustic Road 66 in the southwest corner of the county, located just off County W in the town of Benton. Look for an abandoned lead mine, complete with tin shacks, rusted ore buckets and piles of tailings. This stretch of road offers you a gorgeous drive, especially in autumn with a display of spectacular fall colors. While in this part of Lafayette County, you really should make a detour to Gravity Hill and experience something that defies common sense. Just a couple miles outside Shullsburg on County Road U, the highway plunges down a steep hill, across a low area and curves back up a steeper hill. Stop your car about three-quarters of the way down the first hill, just short of the 25 mph sign (the spot is also marked on the road) and shift your vehicle into neutral. You will start rolling backward up the hill, gradually picking up speed. You have to be there to believe it.

Parks and Recreation While driving through the county, stop for a bit and enjoy a leisurely hike or a picnic at one of our parks. Belmont State Park is located on County Hwy. G just northwest of Belmont. Belle Mont, French for “beautiful mountain”, is clearly an appropriate name. The park includes picnic areas, hiking trails and playgrounds. In territorial days, the mound served as a landmark to guide travelers. One of the reasons Governor Dodge placed the First Capitol at Belmont was because it was easy to find in the uncharted Wisconsin Territorial wilderness.

Yellowstone Lake State Park, located between Blanchardville and Argyle, is open year round. The park is host to many different species of wildlife, including whitetail deer, wild turkey, groundhog, fox, grey squirrel and cottontail rabbit. There have been over 170 species of birds observed in and around the park. Bald eagles, osprey, common loon and the double-crested cormorant visit the lake in the spring and fall during migration. Waterfowl of all kinds, including wood ducks, mallards and Canadian geese use the lake as a rest stop during their migration. Sandhill cranes have been observed in the park with their young. The great blue heron is a common resident seen wading in the shallows hunting for fish or frogs. And bats! Yellowstone Lake is the summer home to more than 4,000 little brown bats. Nature programs run throughout the summer months. Evening programs have many different topics, from bat houses, stars in the night sky, to prairie ecosystems and more.

Near the State Park, you will also find the Yellowstone Wildlife Area, a 4,000-acre property located in Lafayette County. The property consists mostly of rolling upland grass and agricultural fields, with scattered woods and old oak savannah. Find it on County Road F between Darlington and Blanchardville.

The Yellowstone Wildlife Area offers many recreational activities including birding, cross country skiing (no designated trail), fishing - catch and release trout on Steiner Brook, hiking (no designated trail), Horseback riding - 30 miles of trails, hunting, snowmobiling, trapping, wild edibles/gathering and wildlife viewing.

The Yellowstone Wildlife Area also includes a shooting range, located in northeastern Lafayette County, it is owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and is managed in cooperation with the Fayette Sportsman's Club. The shooting range is open daily each week throughout the year, except for Tuesdays when the range is closed for use by state and local Law Enforcement agencies. There are no fees required for use of the range. Please abide by all the rules for use of the shooting range. Safe shooting practices, courtesy to others, and litter pick-up and disposal are everyone's responsibility. Acts of vandalism, unsafe shooting, and violation of any of the other rules listed below will not be tolerated and may result in restricted hours of operation in the future. Please cooperate to keep this range safe, open and free to the public.


When you’re in the Yellowstone Park neighborhood, drive into Argyle and visit the Erickson Wildlife Area. You can enjoy a variety of settings, including open water, wetlands, Pecatonica River frontage, big oak trees, woodland, rock outcrops and grassland. Wildlife is abundant! Cranes, songbirds, turtles, frogs, fox, butterflies and fish call this special place home. And there are plenty of wonderful wildflowers, grasses and trees! The area is open to the public throughout the year for non-motorized uses like hiking, birding and wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting, trapping and skiing.

Six miles south of Argyle off County Rd Y is Blackhawk Memorial Park. Situated alongside the Pecatonica River, you will find a picturesque 120-acre park where you can camp, hike, canoe and fish. Take plenty of time to enjoy the beauty on your travels through Lafayette County… it is picture postcard material.