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Wisconsin Highway Rest Stops
travel. Who doesn’t like a nice family road trip? Yet
sometimes the best part of driving across the country is
when you stop. What better place to stop than a highway
While often looked at as little more than glorified rest rooms, sometimes the simplest pleasures are the best. Yet, most go far beyond this basic need, offering such amenities as picnic areas, vending machines, weather stations, interpretive exhibits, and little splashes of local color. Many act as miniature tourist bureaus, offering maps, advice, and row after row of fliers, brochures, and assorted enticements to the eager traveler.
Wisconsin provides 28 highway rest stops, open year round, for the comfort and convenience of those traveling through the state. This is down from a peak of 32. The state also offers a larger number of more rustic waysides, usually along the smaller state highways.Waysides tend to be open only during the summer months, while rest areas are open year round. The numbers of waysides and rest areas are diminishing, in part due to more extensive commercial facilities making them redundant in some areas,and also from reduced demand in some areas.
Most Wisconsin rest stops have historical commemorative markers, displays of local culture, and each is planted in the wildflowers native to its own part of the state. Those near the borders with other states also have tourist bureaus, sometimes staffed. Many have play areas.
Each stop seems to have a personality of its own. Some are full of excited tourists, looking for the best places to stop and most interesting sights to see. Others are all business, with truck drivers, delivery vehicles, commuter traffic, and highway workers. Many are quite isolated. All have the peace that comes from being out in the countryside, and the security and convenience of the nearby road.
Created as a spot to rest, relax, and recover from accident causing fatigue, rest stops are free of charge, though stay is limited to a duration of 24 hours. There is also no camping permitted, though picnicking is common, and some stops even have grills, and places to dispose of charcoal ash.There is also no hunting, even from the more remote sites. The DMV strongly discourages geocaching here, considering it to be little different than littering. Pets must be leashed, with most areas having special pet exercise sections.
The stops are exceptionally clean, and are regularly maintained by local community rehabilitation programs. These are non profit organizations that hire people with disabilities, and get them out to the rurally located rest stops. Other than some vending machines, also administered by non-profits, there is no commercial activity at the stops, in contrast to those of some other states.
All Wisconsin rest areas have rest rooms, potable water, generous parking spaces, and other facilities as shown in the table below:
Not all links are active - yet.
Wisconsin has approximately 28 rest stops. I have posted pages on 15, and have photographed another three which I will put up over the winter. I am taking a brief hiatus on rest stop photography due to the weather and Covid. Rest stops, and especially truck stops, are a big part of the fun of a road trip. Eventually, I plan to have them all up here. For those of us trapped inside, it might be a nice reminder of the road, and of the larger world that exists outside of sheltering in place. I have another 10 stops to to photograph over this coming (2022) summer, and have them up by the end of that year. There are also brief pages on two of the closed rest areas, which I hope to add to this summer. I have some new camera gear, including a nice new wide angle lens, so I will likely revisit a few and take some new photos. Inactive links are works in progress.
Closed Rest areas
|Rockland rest area by Sparta/
|Wisconsin Rest stop Official Link|