Two Wisconsin “natural wonders” in our backyard

SHERWOOD – Have you found yourself wandering the internet, looking for a winter reprieve? A far-flung locale with sand beaches and palm trees would be nice – but not likely for a quick weekend getaway.

“We’d drive out here to visit friends and think, what are we doing in the city?” explained Char Barribeau.

Barribeau and her husband moved away from Appleton in 1998 to nearby Sherwood.

“Then we said, ‘Gee! We should have raised the kids out here!”

Barribeau loved Sherwood’s High Cliff State Park and its beauty so much she now heads up its non-profit charitable wing.

“(You can) walk the trails and look out over the lake and go down by the marina, there’s just so much natural beauty.”

Not to mention High Cliff’s high cliffs.

High Cliff is just one of seven natural wonders you can visit in the state – even during the extended winter weather. The state Department of Tourism put the list together, which also includes the Horicon Marsh near Mayville.

High Cliff’s natural wonder is the rock formation called the Niagara Escarpment. It’s made up of layers of limestone. At one time, the state park wasn’t a state park, but a quarry. Something park officials say many visitors don’t realize.

The limestone rock formation starts in Milwaukee and continues through Door County.

“Goes underneath Lake Michigan for a time and then reappears in Canada and then finally ends at Niagara Falls,” explained High Cliff’s naturalist Cindy Mueller.

“We tagged ourselves as the quiet side of the Lake,” explained Calumet County’s Resource Management Director Julie Schmelzer.

Schmelzer says when it comes to tourism in the agriculture-heavy county, much is park-dependent.

“Over the last 10 years, our tourism dollars have increased every year,” said Schmelzer. “We attribute it to High Cliff State Park.”

According to the DNR, High Cliff visitors spent more than $36 million in 2013.

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