The Drive: From West Salem, Wis. (just east of LaCrosse) to the Mindoro Cut to the Mississippi River to Merrick State Park to Arcadia.
The Overview: At 120 miles, this drive includes everything from Mississippi River overlooks to the Mindoro Cut (great motorcycle photo op) to Merrick State Park to a giant rock lodged in a house to Memorial Park in Arcadia, a 54-acre park dedicated to our veterans and described as “one of Wisconsin’s best kept secrets.”
Get There: From Rochester, choose a route to get you to West Salem, Wis. I-90 will get you there quickly; Hwy. 16 (see Ride #1) will get you there slowly with a scenic edge. Then you’re doing a lot of winging it, though here’s the gist: Take 16 east from West Salem to 108 North to the Mindoro Cut. Then head west until you hit the Mississippi and take 35 north to Fountain City then east on Hwy 95 to Arcadia, Wis.
Lunch Stop: LaCrosse at lunchtime means a mandatory stop at Buzzard Billy’s for the Catfish Po’ Boy at one of the top stops for Cajun cuisine (buzzardbillys.com; yes, they serve gator). It’s downtown LaCrosse, so that also puts you directly across from The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor (pearlstreetwest.com).
Drive Through The Cut: The Mindoro Cut, located at the highest point on Highway 108 between Mindoro and West Salem, is a path cut out of solid hard rock by horse-drawn equipment and hand tools in 1908, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Watch for the designated pull-off and take some pictures.
See A Giant Rock Lodged Inside A 1990’s House: No, really. It’s worth it. In 1995, a 55-ton bounder broke free from a nearby bluff and crashed into the home of Dwight and Maxine Anderson. No one was killed, but, understandably, the Andersons moved out the next day. The rock stayed. Today, “The Rock in the House” is open to tourists. And it looks like any other house… except for that 16-foot-high rock in the bedroom. 608-687-6106; greatriver.com.
The Mississippi from Merrick: Merrick State Park is a great place to explore, with its views of the Mississippi and prime eagle watching. We recommend using the south parking lot, where you can walk out on the dock.
Honor the fallen: In Arcadia, the 54-acre Memorial Park is dedicated to our veterans and described as “one of Wisconsin’s best kept secrets.”
Ride submitted by Dave Keene