The Southern Wisconsin River Valley is a region of five counties in extreme Southwest Wisconsin along the Wisconsin River. Comprised mostly of rural communities, the area is part of the greater Driftless Area and is noted for its natural beauty and small town charm. The region includes the entirety of Lafayette, Iowa, Grant, Richland and Crawford Counties.
Major cities in the region include:
- 1 Dodgeville : The county seat of Iowa County and home to one of the oldest downtowns in Wisconsin.
- 2 Platteville : A major regional city and county seat of Grant County.
- 3 Prairie du Chien : Commonly referred to as "Wisconsin's second oldest city," this major regional city is located near the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.
- 4 Richland Center : The birthplace of Frank Lloyd Wright.
- 5 Shullsburg : A rural community in Lafayette County known regionally for being the home of Shullsburg Cheese.
- 6 Soldiers Grove : A town in Crawford County.
- 1 Mineral Point , a charming village bursting with Cornish heritage in architecture, shopping and cuisine
- 2 Spring Green , location of Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic home and school at Taliesin, and also of the unassuming but attractive little Unitarian church where Lloyd Wright's uncle Jenkin Lloyd Jones preached
The Southern Wisconsin River Valley was home to some of the earliest French trading settlements in the area. As the area's economic activity increased, it became increasingly important and developed. It is one of Wisconsin's oldest and most historic areas and has a long been associated with many aspects of Wisconsin's progressive movement. Belmont, now a small community in Lafayette County, was the original territorial capitol of Wisconsin.
The Valley is one of the more remote areas of Wisconsin, but it does have some major entry ways. Much of the area is immediately accessible from US 151 (from Madison or Dubuque) or US 18 (from Madison or Northeast Iowa). WI 35 serves as a north-south route connecting the area to La Crosse and Galena.
Many of the same routes that get you into the Valley are the same that connect the cities and destinations in the area. A brief guide to travel by car in the Valley:
- US 151: The primary north-south and east-west route, 151 enters the region northeast of Dubuque and take a northeasterly route toward Madison. While traveling through the region it connects Platteville, Mineral Point and Dodgeville before exiting into Dane County.
- US 18: A major east-west route, it enters the region concurrent with 151 after exiting Dane County. It breaks with 151 and travels due west from Dodgeville before connecting it to Prairie du Chien and exiting the state.
- Wyalusing State Park, 13801 State Park Ln, Bagley, WI (From Prairie du Chien take US 18 south.), ☏ . A beautiful, 2628-acre state park at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.
The Southern Wisconsin River Valley is possibly the safest region in Wisconsin in terms of violent crime. However, the terrain can be difficult to travel on during adverse weather.